In a series of posts, I have written about some of my favorite media regarding privacy and security: TV shows, movies, and novels. When I wrote about TV shows, a number of people recommended the show Black Mirror. I have now seen all the episodes thus far, and I am happily adding it to the list. Black Mirror is essential watching in the canon for anyone interested in privacy, security, technology, and the future.
Each episode of Black Mirror has a different cast and topic. The series is created by Charlie Brooker, who has written all episodes. The common theme is the often frightening ways technology is affecting our lives. Most episodes show the dark side; happy endings are rare. Black Mirror is akin to The Twilight Zone, but it often doesn’t delve into the bizarre or far-fetched — many episodes of Black Mirror involve new technologies that are not far away on the horizon.
Several episodes involve privacy and security. In the “The Entire History of You,” people have a device implanted in them that records everything they see and hear, enabling people to play back any part of their lives. This technology results in some ugly truths being exposed.
In “Be Right Back,” a widow orders an android of her deceased husband that mimics his personality based upon his social media postings. “White Christmas” stars Jon Hamm and involves a device people can use to block others from seeing and hearing them.
“Nosedive” involves a dystopia where people’s lives revolve around ratings. Each person rates each other, and these ratings affect people’s rights and opportunities. The episode involves a woman who strives to reach a higher rating to raise her status and be eligible to live in a nice apartment.
My favorite two episodes are “Shut Up and Dance” and “Hated in the Nation.” “Shut Up and Dance” involves a hacker who captures people’s secrets and blackmails them by making them do a series of tasks, each one being more extreme and disturbing. “Hated in the Nation” is a brilliant exploration of data security, robotics, as well as hate speech online. A government agency has developed robotic bees to replace the dying bee population, but these bees are hacked by a hacker who uses them to kill people who are criticized online. Apparently, the hacker broke into the system because law enforcement has mandated an encryption backdoor. I cannot go further into the plot without giving a lot away, but there are many twists and turns.
Black Mirror episodes are all thought-provoking and well-acted. This is a must-watch show. Black Mirror is currently available on Netflix. Thus far, 13 episodes have aired, with more to come soon.
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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.
Professor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz of the Privacy + Security Forum (Oct. 4-7, 2017 in Washington, DC), an annual event that aims to bridge the silos between privacy and security.
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