This is a special keynote the whistleblower and former NSA intelligence official Bill Binney gave in Munich in January 2014 on the occasion of the annual Handelsblatt-Tagung “Strategisches IT-Management”.
During his speech, he outlined the procedures he helped to develop to manage the enormous amount of data gathered via automated analysis of electronic communication, ways to analyze metadata to generate profiles of suspicious groups, and how to use this information to predict potential dangers.
In the second part of his presentation, Binney emphasized that NSA operations (as well as the use of their data by other agencies) are fundamentally unconstitutional, as the US constitution does not only prohibit intelligence agencies from gathering information on domestic matters, but also from using or dispersing it for other purposes, such as criminal investigations.
With reference to the technical specifics of the fiber optic network used by phone companies, he deduced that all officials who claimed that they did not intentionally collect data on US citizens were deliberately lying and obfuscating their operations, and that secrecy and dishonesty have thus become general characteristics of the US intelligence agencies and their allies in other countries.
Throughout his talk, Binney linked these practices to the inner workings of totalitarian states, such as the GDR, and to the totalitarian reign of English king George III which had directly preceded the Declaration of Independence. He expressed his worries that not only the US, but democracies all over the world are endangered by an erosion of their fundamental principles.
Sociologist Manuel Castells examines the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements that have emerged in the Internet Age. He shares his observations on the recurring patterns in these movements: their origins, their use of new media, and their goal of transforming politics in the interest of the people. Castells presents what he sees to be the shape of the social movements of the Internet age, and discusses the implications of these movements for social and political change.
On February 20, Edward Snowden addressed a wide range of questions during an in-depth interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie at Liberty Forum, a gathering of the Free State Project (FSP) in Manchester, New Hampshire. FSP seeks to move 20,000 people over the next five years to New Hampshire, where they will strive to secure “liberty in our lifetime” by affecting the political, economic, and cultural climate of the state.
Snowden’s cautionary tale about the the dangers of state surveillance wasn’t lost on his audience of libertarians and anarchists. He believes that technology has given rise to unprecedented freedom for individuals around the world—but he says so from an undisclosed location in authoritarian Russia. And he reminds us that governments also have unprecedented potential to surveil their populations at a moment’s notice, without anyone ever realizing what’s happening.
In the midst of a fiercely contested presidential race, Snowden remains steadfast in his distrust of partisan politics and declined to endorse any particular candidate or party, or even to label his beliefs. But he stresses that the U.S. government can win back trust and confidence through rigorous accountability to citizens and by living up to the ideals on which the country was founded.
At the Berlin transmediale 2015, Danish musician and performer Goodiepal presented his performance-installation “Drop-In or Drop Out!”, a continuation of his acclaimed “El Camino Del Hardcore - Rejsen Til Nordens Indre…” (2009-12). Through his installation, he focused on the way technological inventions such as the Internet have formalized knowledge and the capability of the human psyche to imagine things beyond this formalization.
In order to reclaim a space of imagination, Goodiepal has been engaged in the creation of what he calls “unscannable” objects and practices in the past few years. The publication of “El Camino Del Hardcore” follows this logic, as it is constantly evolving, handmade and not available online, contains encrypted texts and is assembled from the author’s sometimes incomplete personal memories.
The short interview he gave during the festival provides additional information on the development of Goodiepal’s work as a traveling performer on a self-made bike, his former occupation as a lecturer at the Danish Royal Academy of Arts, and his personal outlook on the relation of artificial intelligence and the arts.
In 2015, Jennifer Granick was the keynote speaker at Black Hat, the annual conference of the global InfoSec community held in Las Vegas (UT). In her talk, she argued that 20 years from now, the internet might complete its shift from liberator to oppressor. According to her, centralization, regulation, and an increasingly divided community of users have slowly subverted the dream of a free and open internet. These developments will continue to form the future of communication and information, and transform the internet into a slick, controlled, and closed thing. While it might still be possible to prevent this from happening, Granick believes that in the next 20 years we will need to get ready to smash the Internet apart and build something new and better.
Jennifer Granick is the director of Civil Liberties at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Outside of academia, she is mostly known as the attorney who defended some of the more notorious criminal hackers around, including Kevin Poulsen, Aaron Swartz, Jerome Heckenkamp and the hackers in the Diebold Election Systems case.
“It is essential to me not to spread apocalyptic sentiments. It is about to call on people, like I do in my book, that improvements can actually be achieved and that we, the citizens, are in no way helpless when it comes to our rights.”
The story of Mac Schrems is one of engaging in a hard, long struggle that reached a pivotal moment in October 2015, when the European High Court ruled that the US can no longer portray themselves as a ‘safe harbor’ for the data trails of European citizens.
On 26 June 2013, the law student turned privacy activist filed a complaint against “Facebook Ireland”, the international headquarter of Facebook Inc., with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. Schrems argued that the transfer of customer data to the US, where these data were processed, constitutes a “transfer to a third country,” which is only legal in the European Union if the receiving country can guarantee adequate protection of these data. Because the data is forwarded from Facebook Inc. to the NSA and other US authorities for mass surveillance programs, the core claim was that personal data transferred to the US is not adequately protected once it reaches the United States. About one year later, the Irish High Court referred the case to the European Court of Justice.
Max Schrems and his thousands of supporters did not give in. On 6 October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the regulation of data transfers under the ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement between the European Union and the US, which allowed tech firms to share their data, was invalid. The court followed Schrems’ interpretation, stating that Facebook and other digital operators do not provide customers with protection from state surveillance, and concluded that the US thus “does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data.
In a first reaction, Schrems stated that “this case law will be a milestone for constitutional challenges against similar surveillance conducted by EU member states.” He also thanked the bravery of ex-security analyst Edward Snowden, whose revelations about mass surveillance had played a pivotal role for the Strasbourg decision. In this interview with award-winning technology journalist John Kennedy, he provides background information on the case against Facebook, how end users’ lack of technical knowledge fosters their lack of necessary mistrust and how business interests outrank the question of legality.
In the early years of his career, Marcel Duchamp set out to revolutionize the art world: he invented the ready-made and declared art to be dead. In doing so, he did not only shock the audience, he also alienated many of his fellow artists - including the French cubists and those he deemed to be ‘optical’ painters who only seek to please, like Matisse. By the 1960s, when Joan Bakewell interviewed him for the BBC, Duchamp had become a legend who inspired the young artists of the time, especially those involved in Pop Art.
In the interview, Duchamp talks about his attitude towards his own work as well as about distancing himself from groups and artistic movements alike to follow his vision, and boredom as a strategy to attract a public after shocking the audience became impossible.
Reem al Assil; Julia Angwin; Jacob Applebaum; Julian Assange; Tim Berners-Lee; David Chaum; Steve Crocker; Alex Hawkinson; Jon Iadonisi; Eugene Kaspersky; Rick Lamb; Troels Oerting; Thomas Olofson; Bruce Schneier; Paul Syverson; Peter Todd;Joss Wright
Twenty-five years after the World Wide Web was created, the issue of surveillance has become the greatest shame upon its existence. With many concerned that governments and corporations monitor people’s every move, this programme meets hackers and scientists who are using technology to fight back, and some law enforcement officers who believe it’s leading to opportunities for risk-free crimes. With contributors including World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.
The documentary features statements, in alphabetical order, by: Syrian human rights activist Reem al Asim, journalist Julia Angwin, Tor representative Jacob Applebaum, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, World Wide Web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee, cryptographer David Chaum, ICANN chair Steve Crocker, SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson, internet security expert Jon Iadonisi, Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky, ICANN Senior Program Manager Rick Lamb, the Head of the European Cybercrime Centre Troels Oerting, information security specialist Thomas Olofson, cryptographers Bruce Schneier and Paul Syverson, Bitcoin developer Peter Todd, and Oxford Internet institute researcher Joss Wright.
FreedomBox is the name of an award-winning project devoted to building small, low-cost computers that protect peoples´ privacy, security and anonymity while they use the Internet. On January 21, 2015, Version 0.3 of FreedomBox has been released. Speaking at the Elevate festival Graz, Austria, free software advocate and consultant James Vasile outlines the technical and political background and present status of development.
In this presentation at the legendary location for the legacy of Austrian avantgarde art, Forum Stadtpark, Vasile looks back at the way communication used to work in the early days of the internet. Stressing the importance of trust in communication networks, he proposes the FreedomBox as a possibility to create a convenient way for users to access encryption technology and to re-establish personal trust as the foundation of online interactions. The boxes themselves work as Debian plug servers and allow to run various software, including encrypted VOIP and email. They can also be used for routing connections around national censorship firewalls, or to replace social networking sites like facebook. For a software projekt, the development seems to be slow as Vasile is speaking in 2011, yet a closer look shows the complexity that is involved in `doing FreedomBox right´. More information on the project can be found on the project wiki at https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox
The project has received an Innovation Award at Contact Summit 2011, as well as an Ashoka ChangeMaker’s award for Citizen’s Media.