A Good American Film Screening and Panel Discussion

  • Lauren Smith (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


How do we balance our fundamental freedoms and national security in the digital age? Hosted by the University of Strathclyde iSchool, this screening of A Good American seeks to foster debate on the role of surveillance powers to tackle terrorism in a modern democracy. A Good American tells the story of Bill Binney who was the best codebreaker in US history. After the Cold War, he developed a revolutionary surveillance tool called ThinThread that was cheap and efficient, and didn’t invade anyone’s privacy. He developed it right up until the NSA scrapped it - three weeks before 9/11. In its place NSA chose a surveillance system that generated profit and spied on its own citizens instead of its enemies. This system remains in place today. A Good American tells one of the most important stories of the information society, and dissects the inner workings and ties of a politico-economic network whose reach goes way beyond America. Following the film will be a Q&A ft. whistle blowers, former NSA Technical Director, Bill Binney and former NSA Senior Analyst, J. Kirk Wiebe; the UK Bureau Director for Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Rebecca Vincent; and Research Associate at the Department of Computer & Information Science, Lauren Smith to discuss the relationship between free expression and enhanced surveillance powers as outlined in the Investigatory Powers Bill. Do we express ourselves fully if we know we are being watched? Should civil liberties be sacrificed to guarantee security in the face of unknown threats? If we have nothing to hide, do we in fact have nothing to fear?
Period12 Dec 2016
Event titleA Good American Screening and Q&A: Hosted by Scottish PEN and the University of Strathclyde
Event typeOther
LocationGlasgow, United Kingdom


  • intellectual freedom
  • censorship
  • libraries
  • public libraries
  • security
  • access to information
  • privacy
  • government surveillance
  • corporate surveillance