We’ve decided to name our documentary film “/Anonymous.”

Eric Reitz, Pierce Dolim, Benjamin Ng, Noko, Eroth, Iateji

The film will be focus on one or two main subjects/ interviewees; the story will explain why the subject(s) chose to be a part of anonymous web communities, the current threats to anonymous web use, and the most positive aspects of these communities as told by the main character(s).

Note: The credits will feature steps the audience can take to protect themselves and their information online.

Intended audience:
15-30 years old; individuals interested in the current worldwide debate regarding privacy and digital freedom; individuals who want to know more about using the web anonymously

Objective of the film:
The audience should walk away from the finished film with a cursory understanding of some of the strongest reasons to use the web anonymously, why individuals choose to become a part of anonymous web communities, and how to protect their information and privacy online. They’ll hear the story of 1 or 2 main characters and understand what drives people to participate in anonymous web communities. Early on, the focus will be on pseudonymous and basically anonymous sites like 4chan, and move to more obscure anonymous web communities such as Tor.

Early on in the film, the tone will be dark. Eric Reitz has composed a dark cityscape-reminiscent song titled “Redglow” for the first chapter of the film (“Why I’m Anonymous”). A full version with leads and powerful riffs may be used in the transition between chapters 1 and 2, but that hasn’t yet been decided. Once the core concepts are clarified through further interview footage, Eric will compose as many as 2 more songs to be used in the rest of the film. For ambient noise, the film will most likely use a low computer hum from a computer lab or a microphone placed near a somewhat quiet computer. Other sound design elements will be digital sound effects or electric-themed sound effects. The topic is abstract and takes place in the digital realm, and the production team will find whatever it can in order to incorporate representative sound elements into our documentary film.

4chan and similar web communities are a kind of web community where members post anonymously. This allows users to speak freely and without fear of retribution. This is attractive to many people because they are able to allow themselves to be vulnerable without any tangible risk to their personal safety or public reputation. Anonymous web communities offer people who feel ostracized or outcast by certain parts of society are able to find a safe space in these web communities. In a way, this offers acceptance and a sense of belonging to some people who wouldn’t easily find those things in the physical world. Noko is one of these people. Noko has been a member and supporter of communities like 4chan since 2006. 4chan and SomethingAwful allowed him to speak openly and without any fear of risking his safety or reputation in the physical world. Noko believes that these communities are by and large positive/constructive, and believes that all web users should be allowed to use the web anonymously without fear of unnecessary surveillance or monitoring by an increasingly tyrannical government surveillance apparatus.

Since the Patriot Act was passed after 9/11, the government of the United States has increasingly spied on its own citizens and undermined the freedom/ privacy of its own citizens in order combat what they call “an existential threat to democracy-” terrorism. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning reveal that the NSA, CIA, and other surveillance agencies which work for the United States seek to eliminate anonymity online and in the physical world. These agencies carry out dragnet surveillance- a true existential threat to democracy- on the same citizens whose tax dollars fund the existence of said agencies. This is scandalous, and seriously degrades the validity of the U.S. Constitution- the document from which these same agencies draw their authority to operate. These threats to anonymity are seen around the world by tyrannical governments such as those in Iran, Russia, China, Syria, and many more. The death of privacy online inexorably has a chilling effect on free speech- the foundation of any democratic/ first-world Western society. Noko is sympathetic to Edward Snowden, but is not unfamiliar to the dragnet surveillance carried out by the United States. He explains that these are all fantastic reasons to consider using the web anonymously. In order to protect their privacy, their information, and to safeguard their identity online, people must learn more about using the web anonymously. While average use of the internet may not merit constant anonymity, anonymity is a powerful tool which offers web users enhanced security, freedom, and privacy.

Focusing on positive aspects of anonymous web communities and the recent popularity of anonymous web services, it is clear that there is a niche for anyone from any part of the world to actively participate in and feel accepted by anonymous web communities. Noko has found sites like 4chan and SomethingAwful to be full of like-minded individuals who offer him endless entertainment, knowledge, and companionship. He believes that these communities have existed since the birth of the internet in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s; and that they will certainly exist in the future. Although threats to the existence and well being of anonymous web communities won’t disappear anytime soon, much is at stake for members of anonymous web communities. These members will fight vociferously for their privacy, freedom, and anonymity online. It is exceedingly simple to use the web anonymously; there is little risk in joining an anonymous web community, but quite possibly a great deal to gain from forging relationships with like-minded individuals. Regardless of the time of day or the topic at hand, someone within these communities is willing to listen and discuss your interests with you.

The narrative demonstrates why web users choose to use the web anonymously, the current threats to anonymity online, and the appeal of remaining a member of an anonymous web community through archival interview footage, interview audio, aggregated news footage and interviews, explaining current domestic policy within the United States regarding digital privacy, and the personal story of an anonymous web user- Noko.

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