"Erasing David" is a documentary about a guy who tries to go offline and anonymous for a month while private investigators try to track him. It's about privacy and security, and also just about the ubiquity of the Internet and our willingness to share information online.
It should be an interesting way to address some significant social problems, but it's not.
Well, that might be a little too harsh. Let's just say there are interesting moments counterbalanced by points where the filmmaker just tried a little too hard.
David Bond is the documentarian who decides to try an experiment: Can he disappear for one month, not using credit cards or his mobile, trying not to leave a trail that private investigators could use to find him? Great premise. But the film jumps around different time periods (before he disappeared, during his mission, back even earlier before he disappeared, etc.), which can be confusing, and even worse Bond tries to make his escape seem terribly frightening -- as the promotional material puts it:
Tracked by two ruthless private investigators, his chilling journey forces him to contemplate the loss of privacy.
Take out ruthless and chilling and you have a more realistic portrayal. For instance, at one point Bond runs off and hides in the woods and worries that the investigators will see the small fire he's built, paired with a pre-disappearance scene in which a psychologist tells him he might begin to feel paranoid, and lacking any explanation of how he got the camping equipment or built the fire.
If you can ignore such trying-too-hard moments, there are some interesting discussions of privacy and how we willingly turn over information about ourselves to government agencies and private companies with very little thought about who knows what. In the end, it's a phone call to his wife's obstretician's office that gives Bond away, not Internet data, which is funny because that tactic could've worked in the '40s... yes, the 1940s, when my parents were born.
In sum then, a flawed film, but one that might give pause to you or your students the next time you fill out a form or submit an online application.