As an American, one of the greatest rights we have is the right to vote. The democratic system allows the American people to choose who they want as their elected official for places like their village, their state, and their country. Not every country gets this right, which what makes voting so important in America.
But after the 2016 presidential election, where there were rumors and evidence of Russian interference in the election process, questions about our voting processes and our voting machines came into question. Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections, a chilling and eye-opening documentary, looks at the issues and potential threats that we face with out voting processes going into the 2020 presidential election.
Filmmakers Simon Ardizzone, Russell Michaels and Sarah Teale made a movie reminiscent of a great espionage spy movie. This compelling, tightly spun film follows Finnish hacker and cyber security expert Harri Hursti as he travels around the world and across the U.S. to show how our election systems remain dangerously unprotected.
What Hursti discovers is truly incredible and scary to think about. Some of his findings include finding a warehouse in Ohio full of AccuVote TSX machines, a model that will be used in the 2020 elections, being sold on eBay even though they’re supposed to be under lock-and-key, hackers at the world’s largest hacking convention experimenting with current voting machines and discover that votes could have been altered remotely, even from a car driving past a polling place, and, in one of the films most shocking pieces, a hacker from India who reveals that he hacked into Alaska’s voting systems on the day of the 2016 Presidential Elections and could have changed any vote or deleted any candidate. This just scratches the surface of what is exposed and all the discoveries are jaw-dropping.
There is a lot of technical jargon in this documentary dealing with computers and hacking, but Ardizzone, Michaels, and Teale do a great job of making sure the viewer knows what these hackers, tech-genius’, and politicians are talking about is explained and make sure that we know the severity of the situations. With a movie so focused on computers, technology, and politics, it could have been very easy for us as viewers to get confused and jumble everything together. But the thoroughness of the film never make Kill Chain confusing and keep it endlessly captivating.
Though politically focused, Kill Chain is a cautionary tale about the power of technology in today’s world. People might think that the most powerful weapons are guns, tanks, and bombs, but it’s really computers. As Hursti says in the beginning of the film, “Anything can be hacked” and that might be the most chilling line said in 2020. Computers run everything, from vote-counting machines to cars, and the fact that anyone can get into anything at any time and steal your identity or change a country’s presidential election is truly horrifying to think about.
This is an election year for the United States and a documentary like Kill Chain is one everyone needs to watch before deciding this year’s president. Kill Chain makes a strong case for the use of paper ballots and breaking away from electronic voting stations, but that’s only the tip of the ice berg. Kill Chain shows that hacking into our voting system and hacking into our computer systems is a major issue we need to acknowledge, yet is one that isn’t being taken as serious as it should be. Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections is essential viewing for every American in this important time.
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