Terms and Conditions May Rightly Apply

Mark Joe         May 16, 2020

Who has seen the 2013 movie by Cullen Hoback; Terms and Conditions May Apply? It all but confirmed some of my worst fears; the government is spying on me.

Now, why would it do that? Right now, I haven’t got a clue. Its exact motives are subject to a debate that would require another article. The question that ought to be asked right now is how it does this. The answer is; through Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn, and Instagram, and pretty much every technological software application on your smartphone right now. You may not know it, or you may have already heard about it, but those terms and conditions you agreed to (you certainly did not read them); they contain arrangements that allow your personal information to be acquired, stored, and retrieved by the government and its representative agencies, often without your knowledge. What’s more, there have been well documented cases of the commercialization of absolute volumes of personal data by these software companies in the past.

What a violation of privacy! Certainly, there ought to be penalties for these violators. Well… there have been, in a select few cases. In others, such as those involving the government? Not so much. In any sense, while it makes sense to uncover these atrocities committed by these insanely profitable software companies, Hoback’s documentary violates one rule of the game; it fails to quit while ahead. As such, the rest of this article isn’t a review any more than it is a critical appraisal.

In one of the most significant, and admittedly funnier, scenes of this documentary, Hoback meets with comedian cum war veteran Joe Alpari, who narrates his run-in with law enforcement after he admittedly posted the pretty laughable plans of his attack on the apple store in his area. After receiving some pretty frustrating service from the store, Joe goes home, and having been impacted by some admittedly badass action movie, posts a quote from the movie on his Facebook page. Joe wrote, and I quote; “I might walk into Apple on 5th Ave with an Armalite AR10 gas powered semi-automatic weapon and pump round after round into one of those smug , fruity little concierges… This may be someone you’ve known for years…” The comedian then goes on to narrate how, less than a couple of hours later, he was visited in his harmless little apartment by the NYPD and SWAT; each personnel armed and geared-up for war. They were apparently acting upon intelligence from Facebook. Now, the issue here is; the director thinks the intrusion was not only rude, but was completely uncalled for.

Well… what do I think? I’m sorry director, but I cannot see why you have an issue with the law enforcement doing its job.  Permit me to give you a little idea of what happens when they do not. People die! That’s right. In January 2018, before Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and shot 17 persons dead, the FBI was made aware of his intentions, but failed to act fast enough. Before that, In November, 2009, after Nidal Hassan had walked into an army base in Fort Hood, Texas, with firearms and killed 13 persons, it was reported that his internet postings discussing the attack had come to the attention of federal authorities who evidently did very little. Before that, the Columbine High School shooters who killed 13 people in April 1999 had made internet postings to which the attentions of authorities were called. Again, very little was obviously done. I could go on, but I think the reader has already comprehended what I intend to say. The law enforcement agencies were well within their moral and legal rights to visit Joe Alpari, and every other person who behaved as inappropriately as he did. I bet this documentary, and its producers, would have been one of the very first protesters to jump on the back of authorities if Joe’s threat was a valid one, and the authorities did nothing to prevent him ‘pumping round after round into some smug courtiers’. The cycle of violence in this country ought to keep us grounded, and imbue in us the severity of the issue we have at hand. The demerits of these unethical, if not illegal, actions by software companies should be talked about, but these should not cover up the instances where they actually put to good use, some of the agreements in their terms.

Again, who has seen this documentary? I certainly have, and whether or not this review covers it in a good light for you, you ought to find it, and you need to see it. Oh, and while you’re at it, one thing I ask of you, is if you could keep your sentimentalities aside, and allow for a more logical sense of judgment.