Wednesday, November 20, 2013

London CryptoFestival in New Cross

The CryptoFestival is coming up at Goldsmiths in New Cross on Saturday November 30th. They say:

'Freaked out by spiralling revelations of NSA surveillance? Worried that the spooks have subverted the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered panopticon? Or simply creeped out by the way services like Facebook & Gmail track everything you do so they can profile you for advertising?

Whatever your paranoia, now is not the time to give up on the internet. It's time for a CryptoFestival! On November 30th we're coming together to build on the success of the CryptoParty movement and to reclaim our right to communicate and experiment on the internet.

CryptoParties have taught thousands of people the basic ways of protecting themselves and their data from intrusive surveillance. London CryptoFestival will have skill-sharing sessions on how to have private conversations over instant messaging, how to encrypt emails, how to browse anonymously and how to reliably encrypt your hard disk amongst other things. It's peer-against-fear; the self-organised activity of people teaching each other essential privacy skills.

But we aren't naïve enough to think crypto alone will save us. There's more to freedom than hiding, (and even crypto is being bent out of shape). Silicon Valley's stalking-based business model has merged with the GCHQ and the NSA's Eye of Sauron. The whole infrastructure is at risk of becoming an abuse machine. We don't care if it's the FBI behind the hijacked webcam or some other masturbatory misfit. An open and free internet is a core part of our social lives and our society and we want it back.

Governments and corporations have shown themselves to be untrustworthy stewards of the internet. At CryptoFestival we'll look at practical alternatives; from metadata-stripping to mesh networks, from autonomous community wifi to the potential of the ex-TV whitespace spectrum. But we'll also discuss the forms of social solidarity and governance we need to sustain our global commons'.

CryptoFestival takes place on Saturday 30th November, 11am - onwards in the New Academic Building, Goldsmiths, New Cross. Admission is free'.

In New York last week Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to ten years in prison for hacking the private intelligence firm Stratfor and exposing their spying on activists and others.  See FreeJeremy.Net for more information

The only surprizing thing for me about Edward Snowden's revelations about US and British surveillance is the sheer scale of the operations, involving the very architecture of the internet and most of its major brands. Put simply it suggests that in terms of information gathering spies will do whatever it is technically possible to do - there seems to be little in the way of political or financial limits. The issue isn't just what they are doing with this information now (including spying on protestors), but how it could be used by future regimes. The last century has seen enough terror at the hands of repressive governments round the world to cause you to tremble at the enhanced power any of their future counterparts would hold. Is a government here or elsewhere rounding up minorities and dissidents really so unthinkable? Unfortunately not - and their task would be made much easier if they could access everything there was to know about them at the push of a button.

The notion that whistleblowing about mass surveillance is 'helping terrorists' seems ludicrous - surely the first thing anybody involved in serious crime or guerrilla warfare must learn is to assume that anything said on the phone or written on a computer can be intercepted. This is something we all need to know about.

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