The hyrax is not a fictional creature, it exists, just like narwhals and Ewoks. Cullen Hoback, who helms Hyrax Films along with producer John Ramos, actually keeps a hyrax as a pet…
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Latest News

The Guardian: ‘How do you get politicians to care about privacy?’ by Cullen Hoback

January 13, 2014


Beneath the US Capitol building there is one of the swankiest theatres in which I’ve screened my film, Terms and Conditions May Apply, to date.

The space is usually reserved for tours during the daytime, but at night if you have the magic key – a Congressman- movie magic can happen for Capitol Hill’s elite.

Our magic key was Congressman Justin Amash, a second-term representative from Michigan who made a splash this summer with his stance on government surveillance. He introduced a narrowly defeated amendment (205-217) that would have defunded the mass data collection that Section 215 of the FISA Amendments authorises. It has since become known as the Amash Amendment, and it was the first beacon of hope that Washington might reform the Patriot Act.

While introducing the film, the Congressman laid out a somewhat bleak view regarding his leadership role in the field of privacy, “Civil liberties have been my focus in Congress, maybe in some ways unintentionally, I wish there were more people who cared about civil liberties here.”

So how do you get Congressmen to care about privacy?

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The Guardian: Cullen Hoback calls for US to grant Edward Snowden immunity

December 6, 2013


Cullen Hoback, the film-maker behind Terms & Conditions May Apply, a documentary on digital privacy, talks to Jemima Kiss about what happened during the screening of the film, and why the USA Freedom Act – introduced by Jim Sensenbrenner, who was also behind the Patriot Act – may be the best hope for reining in the NSA

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The Guardian: ‘Our data is our digital identity – and we need to reclaim control’ by Cullen Hoback

September 19, 2013


I’m a film-maker by trade, so heading to Capitol Hill the other week was a new experience for me. I was there to talk privacy, and in essence, to advocate. I didn’t have the first clue where to begin. The architecture, both impressive and oppressive, made me feel simultaneously important and meagre, and as I was later told, this was intentional.

For the past month we have accrued about 20,000 signatures at our site, from people who want their Congressmen to see my film about digital privacy: Terms and Conditions May Apply.

I had a feeling a lot of people on the Hill didn’t really understand how privacy has been eroded through the digital corporate/government alliance. It’s not because these Representatives are dummies, it’s because the unholy alliance of the surveillance-industrial complex is just that: complex.

Everything in our digital lives now comes with this legally binding contract, a contract designed to take away fundamental rights. And with 30 or more pages of undecipherable legalese at many sites, how is anyone supposed to understand the nature of the trade for digital services?

These contracts had largely evolved after the Patriot Act, designed to take as much from the user as possible, while simultaneously protecting the company from any and all legal recourse. Who was bargaining on behalf of the user? I suppose I had made a film, and I was now in Washington to change that.

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