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14-Year-Old Students: The New NSA Enemy

The 14 Year Old NSA EnemyThree middle school students won the C-SPAN Student Cam 2014 competition by taking on a very hot issue: mass surveillance. The students were given a question, not a topic, being allowed to choose the latter themselves. The question they were given was broad: “What is the most important issue the U.S. Congress should consider in 2014?” For Peter Jasperse, Madeleine Hutchins and Antonia Torfs-Leibman, the answer to that question was the NSA spying programs.

The students produced a documentary called “The NSA: The Lengths of America’s Security”. It covers the NSA surveillance program that has been a hot button issue with Internet privacy advocates and those who feel that the program violates the Constitutional rights that protect against random searches of people’s persons and property and freedom of speech.

The students took home a nice $3,000 prize for the documentary as recognition for their accomplishments. They’ll also get their documentary broadcast on CSPAN on April 23. You’ll have to get up early to catch it; it airs at 6:50 a.m. EST. If you’re looking for a reason to have hope about the upcoming generation, however, it will be well worth it.

Interestingly, the second-place entry also covered this topic and was title “Data Obsession”. It was made by Ben Blum from San Rafael, CA, who attends Saint Mark’s School. The winners attend classes at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, MD.

Sometimes Kids See It Clearer

The documentary is just over 6 minutes long and shows some really outstanding work. It uses testimony given to Congress, speeches at rallies and other sources to do just what a documentary should: ask questions and let people figure out what they think on their own.

The students obviously worked for this. They selected great clips to include giving information provided by the ACLU, Congress members, advocates for the program and more. They addressed issues related to changing technology, as well.

There’s really outstanding work on display here and it’s worth seeing. These documentaries may have been made by young people, but the way they addressed the issues certainly shows a maturity beyond their years. In fact, you’re likely to glean more solid information and better representations of the opinions on all sides of this issue from these documentaries than you will out of much of the coverage given these issues on cable networks.

You can check out the winning documentary here. The second place documentary is located at EFF’s site, here. Both are worth taking a look at and kudos to these filmmakers for taking on tough subjects and showing some real intelligence and journalistic ethics in doing so.



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