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January 7, 2013 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Jacob Appelbaum speaks about resistance in his keynote address at 29c3 (previously : 28c3, 24c3)

29c3 had over 100 talks across numerous topics related to technology, information, and related human rights areas. All talks should eventually appear at media.ccc.de and various mirrors. In fact, the mirrors host talks that haven't yet made it onto media.ccc.de, such as Appelbaum and Dingledine's talk on the Tor Software Ecosystem (see also their talk last year), as well as smaller versions and torrents (keynote by torrent : 236meg 84meg)  The German language talks posses an English audio track as well.

Amongst the non-technical talks you'll find :  Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, and William Binney discussing the harassment they experienced after becoming whistle blowers in the U.S.  Violet Blue's talk Hackers As A High-Risk Population about harm reduction methodology.  Molly Sauter on The Ethics of Activist DDOS Actions.  Axelarnbak on Certificate Authority Collapse.  Sean Bonner on Safecast: DIY Citizen Sensing [and Mapping] of Radiation [in Japan].

There are various talks by activists resisting ACTA, SOPA, IPRED, TPP and similar legislative efforts or proposing specific legislation, including Ot van Daalen and Rejo Zenger's on the Dutch Net Neutrality Law, Kirsten Fiedler and Markus Beckedahl's Privatisierung der Rechtsdurchsetzung and Jérémie Zimmermann's Defending Online Freedoms.  Gregor Hackmack's talk about Hamburg's Transparenzgesetz, a new "proactive" transparency law, was particularly interesting.
posted by jeffburdges (43 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome post - definitely putting all of these on the to-consume list.
posted by odinsdream at 6:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


29c3 was also notable for a number of rather disturbing sexist incidents; the reaction and discussion has been interesting to follow.
posted by jacobian at 6:26 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I figured this would end up here.

I'm not sure where I stand on it, but you can probably choose to read this from Asher Wolf if you are interested. I'm not sure if it's linked above or not.
posted by Mezentian at 6:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, so-called "revolutionaries" who reenact the values of the establishment they seek to overthrow simply are members of it, and deserve to fall as much as it does.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:12 AM on January 7, 2013


29c3 was also notable for a number of rather disturbing sexist incidents;

The "Hacker Jeopardy" thing is rather shitty as it happened under the auspices of the conference--however spoofing of creeper cards "on a private website", while sophomoric and not actually funny, is probably within the realm of BBS and Usenet derived knee-jerk anti-PC tropes.

Ugh, so-called "revolutionaries" who reenact the values of the establishment they seek to overthrow simply are members of it, and deserve to fall as much as it does.

You'll find total assholes amongst both "the revolutionaries" and "the establishment" because both camps are comprised of human beings, a significant portion of which are total assholes, especially with regard to life beyond the ambit of the issues they engage. At least, some of the time. The presence of assholes does not inherently undermine the validity of a cause.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:30 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh god, this is precious:
@Asher_Wolf: Public shaming leads to discrimination against what is considered wrong by the norm. We want visitors to challenge normativity.
Being a sexist asshole isn't creepy bullshit behavior, it's just challenging the status quo!
posted by kmz at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The presence of assholes does not inherently undermine the validity of a cause.

The failure of an organization to condemn its members who are assholes and purge members who are abusive inherently undermines the credibility of the organization. All the more so when the rot has spread to its leadership.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh god, this is precious:
@Asher_Wolf: Public shaming leads to discrimination against what is considered wrong by the norm. We want visitors to challenge normativity.
Being a sexist asshole isn't creepy bullshit behavior, it's just challenging the status quo!


Yeah, there's something to be said about this but that sure ain't it.

Reflecting on Asher Wolf's note, and that response, I wonder if there isn't a little cognitive dissonance going on in the interface between what we might clumsily call "online subcultures" and "hacker culture," the former being predisposed to progressive attitudes towards gender, identity, etc. and the latter widely understood to suffer from a preexisting deficit in that area (perhaps associable with inherited chauvinism from hobbyist, academic and professional engineering origins). Meanwhile, both segments have the characteristic anti-authoritarian orientation of online activists.

So it seems more realistic and thereby productive to expect that certain poorly socialized tech-heavy and still gender imbalanced segments of hackerdom are going to improve only in fits and starts if left to their own devices to do the right thing based on "trying harder." Rather than asking the rest of the community to "make them unwelcome," which is neither a real fix nor a solution compatible with open-source ideals and realities, we need to figure out how to make them care. These are computer geeks; I'd suggest that they need to understand that their chauvinism is an harmful and embarrassing bug that needs to be excised permanently rather than continuously worked around or masked; which is what happens when open sexism "made unwelcome," but no real change in attitudes is worked.

The comparison would probably be unwelcome (by hackers) but the situation with sexism at RPG or comic cons presents certain analogues.

The failure of an organization to condemn its members who are assholes and purge members who are abusive inherently undermines the credibility of the organization. All the more so when the rot has spread to its leadership.

Yeah, I think the Jeopardy thing is pretty strong evidence on its own that whoever was in charge this time around needs to not be in charge in the future. But that's different than a general commentary on "hacker culture," like Wolf's.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or, to quote Wolf more precisely, "the hacker community."
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:10 AM on January 7, 2013




Being a sexist asshole isn't creepy bullshit behavior, it's just challenging the status quo!

I think you might have misread that; the line is a kind of clunky, but I read it as "the public shaming of sexist assholes leads to discrimination against those who shame them, for doing so. Since the norm is 'let's not shame people for their overt misogyny', that's what needs to change."

Having said that: this woman has a legitimate gripe that's been a long time coming, and using patronizing terms like "precious" to dismiss a woman's (obviously true, evidence-backed) claims of misogyny in the hacker community makes you part of the problem.
posted by mhoye at 8:23 AM on January 7, 2013


I frequently wish mods would retroactively <small> only slightly off topic comments, but hey I'll start that :  I've one female friend who briefly worked around cryptography who said she refused to attend DefCon over sexism issues, definitely very real problem. All the cases discussed in jacobian's links represent real sexism in particular.

That said, Asher Wolf's post is not a well organized critique because it conflates unrelated issues, like developers being rude just because they're developers and crypto users generically being clueless.  You know, Finland has done more against sexism than most countries, but the Fins remain a comparatively gruff lot, especially their celebrity developers.  If you hang out with techies, especially esoteric ones, then you'll be called an idiot occasionally, perhaps even in nasty personal ways.

We could adopt the ironic approach writing an RFC on cruelly bitching people out as offensively as possible without making sexist, motherhood, etc. comments perhaps. :)

posted by jeffburdges at 8:26 AM on January 7, 2013


I think you might have misread that; the line is a kind of clunky, but I read it as "the public shaming of sexist assholes leads to discrimination against those who shame them, for doing so. Since the norm is 'let's not shame people for their overt misogyny', that's what needs to change."

Having said that: this woman has a legitimate gripe that's been a long time coming, and using patronizing terms like "precious" to dismiss a woman's (obviously true, evidence-backed) claims of misogyny in the hacker community makes you part of the problem.


What?!? Oh... I see the confusion now. That was not a tweet from Asher Wolf I was calling "precious", that was a reply to her from the 29c3 Conflict Team.
posted by kmz at 8:35 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


(That said, my comment wouldn't have made any internal sense if you assumed I was dismissing Asher Wolf rather than her detractors... eh, whatever.)
posted by kmz at 8:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you hang out with techies, especially esoteric ones, then you'll be called an idiot occasionally, perhaps even in nasty personal ways.

Sexism is different, if only as a matter of pervasiveness and degree. I've been around different tech scenes for a long time, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen somebody flat out called a nigger, a wetback or a towelhead. But: cunt, whore, bitch, slut, everything else? And not just the overt terminology, but everything patronizingly piled up and implied on top of it? I've seen that shit not just tolerated, but cheered on. So have you.

This is a big, pervasive, systemic problem, and it feels like we in the tech community have only started airing it out this year.
posted by mhoye at 8:41 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


(That said, my comment wouldn't have made any internal sense if you assumed I was dismissing Asher Wolf rather than her detractors... eh, whatever.)

Yeah, that was my misreading, and I apologize for it.
posted by mhoye at 8:42 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Violet Blue is apparently preparing her own response, but in the meantime she posted this in regards to the blog linked above:

Before I weigh in on it… In short: a young woman went to a hacker conference last year (not a hacker nor was she a speaker; she accompanied her then-partner) and brought with her a set of cards she gave to women for them to hand to men when they felt male conference-goers behaved inappropriately. I do not know why she did this. The cards were colored by degree of offense, and intended for public use. No constructive solution or cue for positive interaction or resolution was provided; the cards’ simple function shamed and humiliated individuals who received them. In short, she trolled hacker culture like a champ. At a recent hacker conference, a bi girl made a nude torso out of them, and her gay male friend made a big green penis out of them for lulz. Some people who did not attend the conference wrote about the images, depicting the act of making the pixel-pr0n as statement acts of sexual violent intent. The woman who made the lulzy female image just wrote a blog post about it, but I think that because it is a reasonable post it is not getting as much attention as it should.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is an embarrassing lack of sophistication about the "community", certainly its rhetoric and mannerisms. The 3000 smartest people in the world, Jacob? Really? Strangely it seems to have gotten worse over the years. Perhaps it's a bit incoherent to foster a community around mistrust and subterfuge. I mean I don't expect my activists to be necessarily pleasant but do they have to be so smug?
posted by deo rei at 9:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not to derail from the sexism discussion [*], but many of the technical talks were quite interesting, and well worth watching. I particularly enjoyed this talk on GSM security, which shows how to capture text messages from anyone in an up to 1000km^2 area, and gives very clear hints about how to disconnect every mobile phone in a large city with easily available and really cheap hardware.

Also this talk about "chip and pin" security was, ah, illuminating. (I actually thought using chip and pin technology in an ATM was more secure than the old magnet strip technology - silly me.)

If you follow US politics this talk on the IT infrastructure and IT security of the latest Obama campaign is worth watching. (Among other techniques they sent phishing emails to their own staff, those who fell for it had to take a class.)

The videos are still being posted to the YouTube channel. Many of the videos would actually be worth a post of their own.

*: Since not commenting on the sexist harassment could be seen by some as an implicit approval of it: See this discussion about the secular movement (2012), and similarly this one on the Mad Men generation. IMHO the world is getting a lot better, it is just that people are still only hairless monkeys, all you can really do is not to be an idiot yourself. Oh, and have government require of all private and public child care services: "Gender equality should be reflected in kindergarten education. Kindergarten should raise children to meet and create an equal society." (paragraph 1.3) 2-3 generations of that would help as well.
posted by Baron Humbert von Gikkingen at 9:27 AM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yes, there were a lot of talks that warranted their own thread, Baron Humbert von Gikkingen, well so do the links posted by jacobian and mezentian about sexism in the hacker community. I collected the political talks with the most bearing on Appelbaum's keynote here, along with a couple others I found interesting.

I'd agree sexism is different, mhoye, but Asher Wolf's post conflates sexist and non-sexist techie bitchiness into one tangled bad experience, not ideal. Jacobian's geekfeminism.wikia and adainitiate.org links are otoh crystal clear, as are the replies by mirromaru and Violet Blue.

posted by jeffburdges at 10:30 AM on January 7, 2013


Minor point of order: for dum-dums like y.t. it would've been nice to see slightly more spelled out who these people are or why we should pay attention to them.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2013


Well, sexism at the convention notwithstanding, I found this Mr. Applebaum's speech to be a good one. The story of his (mentally-ill) mother's arrest and subsequent treatment to be chilling to say the least. In fact, it's a theme that he kept coming back to overtly and not. I was really struck when he asked for the show of hands of who thought anonymity was a right. Why should the right to anonymity be defended unless you do not believe you can rely on law-enforcement to act responsibly, (or other variations on this basic idea of maintenance of privacy/ being able to control (as much as possible) how one presents oneself). I have to confess I felt like I had been caught very flat-footed for a moment. Times have changed under me without my paying attention. Like, remember that Sandra Bullock movie, the one with the S.N.L. guy who later turned into a right-wing dick? Like that movie is coming way way too close to 'real.' Imagine if we had that same feeling about 'On the Beach'?
posted by From Bklyn at 12:37 PM on January 7, 2013


Why should the right to anonymity be defended unless you do not believe you can rely on law-enforcement to act responsibly

Well, yes, that's the whole point - since when can you rely on law enforcement to act responsibly? Far better to deny them the tools they need to ruin your life than to try to fight them in the courts after they've already worked you over.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Folks, enough with the all-small comments please?]
posted by jessamyn at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2013


Well, yes, that's the whole point - since when can you rely on law enforcement to act responsibly? Far better to deny them the tools they need to ruin your life than to try to fight them in the courts after they've already worked you over.

I sympathize with from a tactical point of view but strategically this abdicates responsibility for improving law enforcement. It also seems a little untethered to suggest that you can fight the powers that be on turf that simply can't function in its current capacity without extensive accommodation by the powers that be. Ideally that would be in a world where the powers that be are (sometimes) you and me.
posted by deo rei at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only talk I've watched so far was the Radack, Drake, and Binney one which was great. I skipped Radack because I've heard her story before in a couple of interviews, but the answers from all three at the end about how to protect the vulnerable (e.g. Syrians) from snoops were chilling.
posted by morganw at 2:01 PM on January 7, 2013


We know that law enforcement has never acted responsibly, but they'll continue possessing the tools to ruin your life. Applebaum's speech is about denying them the tools to quietly optimize who's life they ruin and how they do it.

There isn't imho any "abdication of responsibility for improving law enforcement" here because the same people championing privacy also champion governmental transparency. And transparency is an extremely effective tool in reducing abuse by law enforcement. I loved the Hamburg Transparenzgesetz for exactly this reason.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:11 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


you know what else is really sexist? the surveillance state!

also they kill people!
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:30 PM on January 7, 2013


deo rei - I wonder if you've had the chance to attend any of the CCC events over the last ~30 years? My experience is that it is one of the most awesome groups of people I've ever met in my life, I was speaking from the heart when I said so.
posted by ioerror at 11:58 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My experience is that every other discussion either starts with or ends up praising the cleverness of the hacker community and/or mocking the stupidity of everybody else. After 25 years that gets a bit old. CCC is a terrific thing to exist but with billions of people now trapped in walled gardens like Facebook and iStuff I've grown a bit wary of the nature and reach of that "cleverness". Sometimes it feels like we've gotten a golden cage to play in and because we're an hyper-focused, results-motivated breed, we don't stop to think about the why or how of that cage, we just start looking for ways to break it. Then when we do we get a pellet and the effort is harvested to build a better cage. But anyway. It's not you, it's me. Hope you had a great time and got a lot of new input. You were smug though.
posted by deo rei at 2:30 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


An amusing talk is Anne & Richard Marggraf-Turley's Romantic Hackers : Keats, Wordsworth and Total Surveillance (30 min).  See also Jeffrey Robinson's Occupy Romanticism.

Just fyi, there are many talks that run under 1 hour long so don't worry too much if your short on time.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:13 AM on January 8, 2013


This seems relevant to the discussion, since it was made in response:
Quota - Quick Orthodox Tokenism Assessment System

I don't like arbitrary quotas as much as the next person, but I don't think this guy (operating under the moniker the "Federation of Unionized Kindred Tokenism Administrators for Required Diversity and Statistics" is helping anyone.
posted by Mezentian at 3:41 AM on January 8, 2013


There isn't imho any "abdication of responsibility for improving law enforcement" here

You are right, that wording is too strong. My concern is that the notion that law enforcement is always irresponsible and cannot be trusted with anything, justified as it may be, sets up a necessarily adversarial relationship that does not motivate to go about improving law enforcement or even to start educating oneself. And this is a kind of prison itself, an ideological myopia where every problem becomes a nail. Anyway all this follows familiar fault-lines in in the debate and I think there are a lot of ways to do good, so if you want to smash the state (and apologies to caricature your position like that, it's in good humor), more power to you, just right now, for me, I'd like to work on something different.
posted by deo rei at 10:05 AM on January 8, 2013


There is corruption, nepotism, etc. in all human endeavors, but the solutions always come from outside, like evolution placing cultures in conflict, threats like the cold war, etc. We aren't talking about smashing the state but preventing the state from degrading into surveillance while improving it by exposing the ubiquitous corruption.

Information technology affords roughly two fundamental direct forms of social progress or decline : (1) greater physical separation between intelectual influence (speech) and action and (2) increased access to information. We can obviously subdivide progress on (2) into (a) preservation of physical world privacy for relatively powerless individuals and organizations, via Tor, Freenet, etc., and (b) transparency, meaning exposing more information about powerful organisations and individuals. If you're not hot about (2), then what do you care about? I've certainly never heard anyone into info-graphics bitch about transparency.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:52 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is interesting discussion about privatized law enforcement and successors to ACTA in the Privatisierung der Rechtsdurchsetzung talk, although I wish they'd post English transcripts for the talks that move slowly.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:19 PM on January 9, 2013


There were enough talks about ACTA, SOPA, etc. here that I'll point out Aaron Swartz's keynote "How we stopped SOPA" from the Freedom to Connect (F2C) conference in 2012, thanks to Numenius in the Aaron Swartz's suicide thread.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:17 PM on January 12, 2013


Google's transparency report shows governments requesting more data, up 70% since 2009. (previously)
posted by jeffburdges at 5:21 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just got through reading that. The interesting thing to me, besides some of the country-specific language, was how they're acceding to fewer requests. I wonder a bit about that and they didn't clarify.
posted by jessamyn at 5:31 PM on January 23, 2013


If you check the US details, you'll find requests far faster than rejections. A priori, I'd expect enough companies grant all requests that law enforcement has grown lazy and started writing more improper ones.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:47 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]






There are definitely some talks still not on media.cc.de, notably the JStylo-Anonymouth talk discussed here.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:00 AM on January 27, 2013




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