'Snowden' director Stone talks NSA, Pokemon GO at Comic Con

Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:04pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Reuters) - Pokemon GO may seem a long way from the spy networks of the U.S. National Security Agency, but for Oliver Stone, director of NSA whistleblower movie "Snowden," the gaming app represents "a new level of invasion" of our digital privacy.

The Oscar-winning director made the comments at a panel discussion promoting his latest film "Snowden" at San Diego's Comic-Con pop culture event on Thursday. The movie follows the 2013 events that led former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to expose the U.S. government's mass surveillance programs.

Snowden fled the United States in May 2013 after the government filed espionage charges against him. He was granted asylum in Russia later that year, where he has since lived.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the title character of the movie and met Snowden in Moscow two years ago to prepare for the role, spending four hours with him and his girlfriend Lindsay Mills, saying he found him to be "very polite."

"He's very much an old fashioned gentleman, and an optimist," Gordon-Levitt said. "He's known for raising his hand about the downside of technology, but he's really optimistic about technology in the future and how it can improve democracy."

When asked about Alphabet Inc's Google and Nintendo Co Ltd's Pokemon GO app that has taken the world by storm, Stone said the phenomenon is "a new level of invasion."

"Google has invested in what surveillance is, data mining, which is about what you're watching, what you're buying, and Pokemon GO taps into that," Stone said.

He said Pokemon GO "manipulates our behavior," leading to a "Robot society where they know how you behave ... It's what you call totalitarianism."   Continued...

U.S. film director and screenwriter Oliver Stone speaks during a discussion with students at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan in this file photo dated November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Ana Martinez