Shailene Woodley covered up her webcam with a Band-Aid after filming ‘Snowden’

Actress Shailene Woodley attends 'Snowden' press conference during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Sep

Sheri Block,

From covering up her computer’s webcam to not agreeing to a website’s terms and conditions without reading them first, Shailene Woodley says making the movie “Snowden” has definitely changed her perceptions of online privacy.

“I do have a Band-Aid over my computer. But when it comes to personal privacy, privacy is a privilege now and it’s only a privilege if you’re privy to the fact that it’s a privilege because it’s not something you inherently have as a human being in 2016,” the actress told reporters at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Saturday.

In the Oliver Stone political thriller Woodley plays Lindsay Mills, girlfriend to real-life whistleblower Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Even though Mills currently lives in exile with Snowden in Moscow, at the time the movie indicates she had no idea the earth-shattering secrets her boyfriend had discovered about the NSA and its mass surveillance programs.    

(Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley in a scene from 'Snowden.' Image courtesy of TIFF)

For Woodley, she was always aware the information she was sharing on social media was public, but says learning more about the subliminal things (like clicking ‘I Agree’ when signing up to Facebook without knowing what you’re agreeing to or that a webcam might be secretly filming you) were the most eye-opening.

“The awareness of what you do when you’re in the privacy of your home, the comfort and safety of your friends and family, that you’re not thinking is being recorded or videotaped or that data is being stored, that’s something that I think we all have to wrap our heads around a little more and that’s something that’s dramatically changed my life from this experience.”

Her co-star Zachary Quinto, who portrays lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald, says he’s also thought twice about his actions online since making the film. 

He cites a recent example of reading consumer ratings online while looking for a new washer and dryer and having ads for the appliances immediately show up on the next website he visited.  

“What we are willing to sacrifice in our privacy … without even thinking about it for convenience sake, what we’re willing to give up of our own freedoms and interests just in sitting down to our computers is shocking,” Quinto said.

“You can take protections, you can take steps to enact two-step verification, and put tape over your laptop and strengthen your password but all you need to do is shop for appliances and you’re exposing yourself of some kind of tracking, some kind of collection of data. It’s fascinating and unsettling.” 

Stone, who met with Snowden multiple times in Moscow while doing research for the movie, says it’s only going to get worse. 

“Unfortunately Ed Snowden has warned us more than once about privacy and he said very clearly … the next generation won’t know what privacy is,” said the Oscar-winning director.

But Gordon-Levitt has a more optimistic view. 

“I think it’s worth being very critical of some of these particular actions of the U.S. government but I also choose to remain optimistic that we still do live in a country where we still do have the opportunity to raise our voices and try and take control of this and not let it go in a bad way.”