Tag Archives: Jacob Appelbaum

Jacob Appelbaum at Aaron Swartz Day - 20151205

Jacob Appelbaum at Aaron Swartz Day - 20151205

Lisa: Ladies and Gentlemen, Jacob Appelbaum.

Jacob: First of all, thank you so very much for having me tonight. It’s actually really difficult that I can’t be there in person, and I wish that I could be. And, when Lisa asked me to speak tonight, I actually didn’t feel that I had something to say until I sat down and wrote a text. So, I’m just going to read you a text, and as a result I’m going to cover my camera because there’s nothing worse than watching someone read. So, as you can see there, it’s just a bright white light, and now I’m going to read you this text, and I hope that you can still hear me.

[Crowd chanting “We want Jake!”]

Jacob: (Laughing)

Lisa Rein: Jacob, come back on camera, please. Don’t do it, Jake.

Jacob: I’m sorry. It has to be this way. That’s how it has to be, I’m sorry, but here we go.

Lisa: It’s okay. No, no, no!

Jacob: You can’t fucking be serious. [laughing] Terrible.

Lisa: Jacob, please. Thank you. (Jesus Christ.)

Jacob: Look, I want to see all of you, too, but we don’t get what we want so I’m going to read you this text now.

The first time that I heard Aaron Swartz speak in person was at the Creative Commons release party in San Francisco.

Lisa: Jacob, we’re going to turn it [the podium laptop] around.

Jacob: I was working the door as a security guard, if you can believe that. I think it was in December of 2002. Meeting people in that seemingly weird world mutated life in a good way. Over the years, we crossed paths many times, be it discussions relating to CodeCon, to age limits, or free software, or the Creative Commons, or about crypto, or any other topic. Aaron was an insightful, hilarious, and awesome person.

Aaron and I worked on a few different overlapping projects and I very much respected him. Some of the topics that came up were light, but some were very heavy and very serious. The topic of WikiLeaks was important to both of us. In November of 2009, long before I was public about my work with WikiLeaks, I introduced Aaron to someone at WikiLeaks who shall remain unnamed. If we had a secure and easy way to communicate, if some sort of communication system had existed that had reduced or eliminated metadata, I probably could’ve done so without a trace. But we didn’t. You’re not the first to know, the FBI and the NSA already know.

Less than a year later, Aaron sent me an email that made it clear how he felt. That email in its entirety was straightforward and its lack of encryption was intentional. On July 10, 2010, he wrote, “Just FYI, let me know if there’s anything, ever, I can do to help WikiLeaks.” Did that email cast Aaron as an enemy of the state? Did Aaron worry?

2010 was an extremely rough year. The US government against everyone. The investigation of everyone associated with WikiLeaks stepped up. So many people in Boston were targeted that it was effectively impossible to find a lawyer without a conflict. Everyone was scared. A cold wave passed over everything, and it was followed by hardened hearts from many.

In February of 2011, a few of us were at a party in Boston hosted by danah boyd. Aaron and I walked a third person home. A third person who still wishes to remain unknown. The sense of paranoia was overwhelming, but prudent. The overbearing feeling of coming oppression was crushing for all three of us. All of us said that our days were numbered in some sense. Grand juries, looming indictments, threats, political blacklisting. None of us felt free to speak to one another about anything. One of those people, as I said, still wishes to remain unnamed. We walked through the city without crossing certain areas, because Aaron was worried about being near the properties that MIT owned.

When Aaron took his life, I remember being told by someone in San Francisco, and I didn’t understand. I literally did not understand who they meant or who it could be. It seemed impossible for me to connect the words that were coming out of their mouth with my memories.

Shortly after Aaron was found, WikiLeaks disclosed three facts:

  • Aaron assisted WikiLeaks.
  • Aaron communicated with Julian and others during 2010 and 2011.
  • And Aaron may have even been a source.

I do not believe that these issues are unrelated to Aaron’s persecution, and it is clear that the heavy-handed U.S. prosecution pushed Aaron to take his own life. How sad that he was abandoned by so many in his time of need. Is it really the case that there was no link? Is it really the case that the U.S. prosecutors went after Aaron so harshly because of a couple of Python scripts and some PDFs? No, clearly not.

I wish that Aaron had lived, as we all do. This was the year that brought us the summer of Snowden, and yet it felt like ten years of grief in a single one. It was the last time I spent any time in the U.S., and even now it feels like a distant memory, mostly bad memories. Especially the memory of learning about Aaron.

Only a few months later, in 2013, there was a New Year’s Eve toast with many of us who were being investigated, harassed, and targeted for our work, our associations with WikiLeaks, and for our political beliefs. It was me that stupidly, stupidly said, “We made it.” But I know it was Roger, and I remember it well, when he said, “Not all of us.” And he wasn’t speaking only about Aaron, but him too. And it was heartbreaking to remember, and it was telling of how to cope. How some try to forget, and we do forget, and that it is important to remember. Especially right then and especially right there. Just as it is here, and just as it is right now.

When we learned more details about the U.S. prosecutors, we learned that they considered Aaron a dangerous radical for unspecified reasons. One of the primary reasons is probably the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. This is a good document, and, as many others, I respect it and I admire it. The Guerilla Open Access Manifesto is not as radical as the U.S. prosecutors might consider it. But their fear is telling, so let us say it out loud: We should honor it and we should extend it.

Let’s not only liberate the documents of the world, let us act in solidarity to liberate all of humanity. Let us create infrastructure that resists mass surveillance. Let us enable people to leak documents. And let us also work to infiltrate those organizations that betrayed us. There is a division of labor, and we all bring different skills to the table. Let us all use them in service of a better world, in service of justice.

We must have total transparency about the investigation into Aaron. Why was the Department of Justice grinding their axe with Aaron? Was it really because of JSTOR and the past anger about PACER? That is absurd and unbelievable. It is disproportionate and it is unjust.

One concrete thing that needs to happen is for the FOIA case to be properly resolved. We must find a way to speed up the processing about FOIAs regarding Aaron. Rather than hundreds of documents at a time, we should have all 85,000 at once, and not mediated by MIT, who is partially responsible for the outcome we have today.

And we must not drop the pressure. If you are invited to MIT, I encourage you to decline and to explain that you do so because of MIT’s treatment of Aaron Swartz. But not just Aaron, but those like Star Simpson and Bunnie, who MIT would’ve left to be like Aaron, if the cards had played a little differently.

Here are some things you can do to support the legacy and spirit of Aaron. We can support the development of some of Aaron’s projects like SecureDrop. Kevin, Garrett, Micah, and others are carrying that torch. We can work with them. They’re still with us today. You can come and work with many people at the Tor Project on Tor Browserand Tor Messenger, and other software to be of use to disseminate and to push out information, important information to people that might have otherwise not happened without that software. And you can come and help us make free software for freedom, just as Aaron did.

And there are other projects that need assistance. OnionShare, Let’s Encrypt, GlobalLeaks, Pawn[?], Subgraph, Signal, the Transparency Toolkit, and many more.

But it isn’t just software. There are so many things that can be done. You can write to prisoners of conscience of Aaron’s generation, of my generation, of your generation. Do Jeremy Hammond, Barret Brown, and Chelsea Manning have to die before we work to correct the injustices that they face daily? We can and we should free them.

Here are some things to support each other during the hard times, those with us now and those sure to come in the future. We should support WikiLeaks, an organization under attack for publishing information in the public interest. We should support the EFF. They support people who are at the edge. We should support the ACLU. When others called Edward Snowden a traitor, the ACLU gave him legal support. We should support the Courage Foundation. They are the ones that helped Edward Snowden to seek and to receive asylum and do the same with others that are directly under threat today and those under threat tomorrow. And we should support the Library Freedom Project. They work to educate, to deploy, and to resist, by deploying alternatives in public spaces for everyone today. And together, we are already building, deploying, supporting, and using infrastructure which is not merely a matter of protest, but is an act of resistance in itself, by being a practical alternative.

And there is a legal lesson that we actually must learn in a very hard way, as many communities have learned it already, and it is one where the lawyers in the audience who represent me are already cringing from what I’ve said, but they’ll cringe harder next. We must resist grand juries. We must not bow down. We must band together. And together we can refuse to be isolated. We must resist it every step of the way, never giving them anything, ever, at all, when they wish to persecute us for our political beliefs. And if you feel there is no other choice, drag it out and make it public.

Consider that the core of Aaron’s legacy is not simply about information or about writing software. It is about justice, about fairness, through transparency, through accountability, through consideration. So then let us consider our empire and most of all we must consider our complicity. It is up to us to act and to change things, to fight for the user, but also to consider the world in which he lives. To think as technologists, but to think far beyond only the technology and into our common humanity.

How is this lesson applied to gender and racial inequality? Aaron wasn’t a bigot; he was thoughtful. He was not a homophobic person; he was accepting. He wasn’t a racist; he was unprejudiced. Aaron was kind and compassionate. He fought for free speech. He worked and he supported your anonymity directly with actions, and he worked to free our culture’s knowledge. We must be forward-thinking, not just about winning one or two battles. Not just about one or two legal cases. Rather in a broader sense, towards a movement of movements. The Internet is a terrain of struggle and it will help shape all of the other terrains of struggles to come, and Aaron, Aaron helped to shape that terrain for us, so that we could shape it for others.

Part of what Aaron carried was an understanding that it wasn’t just that something needed to be done. He carried with him the idea that very specific things needed to happen, and for very good reasons, to benefit all of those alive and all of those yet to live. He cared deeply about free software, and he cared deeply about the free culture movement. He worked to advance many other issues. Let us carry on that work, whatever the cost, wherever they may take us.

Aaron was headstrong and hilarious. He was young. Today, he would’ve been 29. Use your time wisely. May you have more time than him, and may you use it as wisely as he did.

Good night.

Hacker Jacob Appelbaum's new tool in the fight for digital freedom? Photography - CBC 20150910

Hacker Jacob Appelbaum's new tool in the fight for digital freedom Photography - CBC 20150910

Jacob Appelbaum is an American hacker, a privacy activist and an artist with a new show, his first solo photography exhibition in his chosen city of Berlin. Had things gone differently, he could even have been a Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agent.

According to Appelbaum, he was invited to talk to students about privacy online a few years ago in, if he remembers correctly, Ottawa. It's something he often does as a member of the Tor project, a free software network providing online anonymity.

He later found out it was a military college, and that the audience at the bar where the talk took place wasn't just students but also various government agents.

"There was a guy in the audience who came up to me afterwards and said, 'Why don't you come work for us?'"

Appelbaum says people would be surprised by how many offers he's received from various federal agencies.

"I consciously wanted to display a proud person."
- Jacob Appelbaum on his approach to photographing Julian Assange.

Instead, the 32-year-old built an international reputation as a privacy advocate and security expert, a winner of the respected Henri Nannen prize for journalism for helping reveal surveillance by the U.S.' National Security Agency (NSA) in Germany, and an ally of both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

"I kind of regret it. You know? If I can go back in time I think it would have been a really good thing to do that, if only because then we would have had another Edward Snowden, this time from Canada. Hindsight is always 20/20," he says from the Nome Gallery in Berlin.

An exhibit of Appelbaum's work on the topic of surveillance opens this week (one day shy of September 11) in the city he now calls home. Appelbaum describes himself as "living in exile in Germany" because he says he's faced repeated harassment by the U.S. government.

Appelbaum's 'SAMIZDATA: Evidence of Conspiracy' is a series of works that includes one of several panda bears stuffed with Snowden's shredded documents, a collaboration with Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

But the central item of the exhibit is a collection of portraits Appelbaum took over the years of his colleagues and friends, like Ai Weiwei, Citizenfour documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

That they were taken using infrared film once used for aerial surveillance seems quite the meta statement, but Appelbaum says it's a happy accident. He was introduced to the film about a decade ago by Toronto photographer Kate Young.

One of the goals of the exhibit is to illustrate what Appelbaum calls "a kind of emergent network" that has sprung up, an informal team of anti-surveillance dissidents.

American security expert and privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum. (Kate Young)
American security expert and privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum. (Kate Young)

But it's also to show how he views these similarly polarizing, controversial figures.

"You're not going to see Laura lying on her couch normally," he says.

And with the Assange photo, taken in 2012, "I consciously wanted to display a proud person when we were still on the edge of understanding how far this was going to go."

For Appelbaum, the idea of anonymity online isn't something to fear.

"Anonymity online is to be at liberty," he says, adding that the internet is a place where one should be able to freely associate and form your own thoughts and opinions.

"There will always be bad actors, but sometimes those bad actors wear good cop badges."

Jacob Appelbaum. SAMIZDATA: Evidence of Conspiracy, presented in collaboration with SAMIZDATA: Tactics and Strategies for Resistance by Disruption Network Lab, curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli. NOME Gallery, 31 Dolziger St., Berlin. Fri., Sept. 11 to Sat., Oct. 31. Tue-Sat, 3pm-7pm. Free.

Jacob Appelbaum

Jacob Appelbaum is a post national independent computer security researcher, journalist and photographer. He is a core member of the Tor project, a free software network designed to provide online anonymity. He also trains interested parties globally on how to effectively use and contribute to the Tor network, enabling people to have agency, informing, researching and writing about surveillance and privacy.

P2P (Panda-to-Panda) (Bejing), 2015. Mixed media including shredded classified documents, 45cm, 25cm and 20cm. Project commissioned by Rhizome and the New Museum in New York. (Jacob Appelbaum and Ai Weiwei)
P2P (Panda-to-Panda) (Bejing), 2015. Mixed media including shredded classified documents, 45cm, 25cm and 20cm. Project commissioned by Rhizome and the New Museum in New York. (Jacob Appelbaum and Ai Weiwei)
Ai Weiwei (Bejing), 2015. Cibachrome print, 101.6 cm x 76.2 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
Ai Weiwei (Bejing), 2015. Cibachrome print, 101.6 cm x 76.2 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)

Laura Poitras (Berlin), 2013. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)

Laura Poitras (Berlin), 2013. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)

Laura Poitras (Berlin), 2013. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum) - detail
Laura Poitras (Berlin), 2013. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum) - detail
Glenn Greenwald & David Miranda (São Paulo), 2012. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
Glenn Greenwald & David Miranda (São Paulo), 2012. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
Glenn Greenwald & David Miranda (São Paulo), 2012. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)- detail
Glenn Greenwald & David Miranda (São Paulo), 2012. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)- detail
Sarah Harrison (Berlin), 2015. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm (Jacob Appelbaum)
Sarah Harrison (Berlin), 2015. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm (Jacob Appelbaum)
Sarah Harrison (Berlin), 2015. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm (Jacob Appelbaum) - detail
Sarah Harrison (Berlin), 2015. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm (Jacob Appelbaum) - detail
Julian Assange, (Undisclosed location near Bail Mansion outside of London), 2012. Cibachrome print, 101.6 cm x 76.2 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
Julian Assange, (Undisclosed location near Bail Mansion outside of London), 2012. Cibachrome print, 101.6 cm x 76.2 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
Julian Assange, (Undisclosed location near Bail Mansion outside of London), 2012. Cibachrome print, 101.6 cm x 76.2 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum) - detail
Julian Assange, (Undisclosed location near Bail Mansion outside of London), 2012. Cibachrome print, 101.6 cm x 76.2 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum) - detail
William Binney (Berlin), 2014. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
William Binney (Berlin), 2014. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
William Binney (Berlin), 2014. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum)
William Binney (Berlin), 2014. Cibachrome print, 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm. (Jacob Appelbaum) - detail

Appelbaum, Jacob - We need more, not less democracy - Open Democracy 20151120

I hope you'll join me in installing free software for freedom, fighting against mass surveillance, and refusing to be instrumentalised by those who have failed us – our intelligence services.

This article is taken from Jacob Appelbaum's opening remarks at the World Forum for Democracy 2015.

We are speaking here in a very intense context. I feel very sorry for what has happened in Paris and in Beirut, and for the context that seems to have taken American wars and brought them to European soil.

With that said, the responses that I have seen have been terrifying, and not merely in the technological realm. And while I am a technologist, I am also a human being, and I refuse to be pigeon-holed into merely speaking about technology.

Some of the things that I have heard raised for me a great deal of historical terror, and I wish to say, especially to the people who are here, who are European residents like I am now, that I encourage you to learn from the mistakes of my country, in the wake of our most recent, horrific, terrorist attack.

I feel that we have responded with wars, and because those wars have come to your doorstep, we actually see grave interventions with more violence, which in fact feed into what Daesh wants. Daesh wants to have more war.

They want to eliminate the grey zone where anyone with a beard, anyone who is a Muslim, anyone who looks different, will be treated as an outsider and will be harmed. They want to enlargen the xenophobia, they want more violence, and so we should consider whether or not that is what we wish.

Daesh wants to have more war.

We also see that the intelligence services have absolutely failed us. The intelligence services of the world claim that encryption is a problem. But the evidence has come out that, in fact, the attacks in Paris were perpetrated by people who used credit cards in their real name, who used unencrypted text messages to say things like 'let’s go'.

No one is asking how these people are doing arms-trafficking – those are physical goods that do not travel through the internet. How is it the case that the intelligence services have failed so badly, and that they seek instead to distract and to counter-accuse, and to suggest encryption, something that people don't understand, is the issue?

How about the fact that the United Kingdom has a plan to do things with its intelligence services, such as the JTRIG department, where they specifically target religious minorities for political harassment. Why is it that the UK is allowed, and in fact encouraged even, to harass minorities into becoming informants, and if not, will threaten them with stripping them of their citizenship? Their citizenship, which is effectively the right that grants all other rights.

This is a core contributing problem. It is not technology or encryption that is the core contributing problem. It is intolerance, it is a lack of openness, a lack of welcoming, it is this fear of the other that we see.

And this idea that we have even heard in France this week, that there should be pre-emptive arrests and internment of Muslims, this must not happen. It is absolutely against the rule of law and even if it were legal, it is against fundamental civil liberties.

When the attack in Paris occurred, I was in Kuwait, and I was attending an artistic event held by the French ambassador, and I was very shocked by what had occurred. What I found when talking with people was they were not as sympathetic as I would have expected. It was not that they did not care, but they said instead to me something that struck me.

They said, our brothers and sisters are dying in Syria: 250,000 of them so far. More than a million people have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you're talking about a couple of hundred people in Paris. We feel you, now you feel us.

What then, might we learn from this?

Violence in Aleppo. Narciso Contreras/Freedom House/Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Violence in Aleppo. Narciso Contreras/Freedom House/Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Is the answer to commit more violence? Is the answer to undermine our fundamental liberties? To add backdoors to technology? Is the answer, for example, to suggest that the problem is with technology? I think that it's not. But it is additionally problematic to suggest that we need a reduction of evil – it suggests that we don't need to study and look to the root causes. For example, pacifism is much more powerful if we consider that it is a choice, and that we choose that when we have the ability to do violence.

It is simply the case that violence is to eschew dialogue, it is to get rid of that dialogue, and so to respond with violence is absolutely a tragedy upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. We will not bomb Syria into peace, at best we may bomb it into submission. Submission is not the same as peace.

Submission is not the same as peace.

Instead, we should consider the humanity. For example, today on the news we've seen suspects of terrorism, and they've been killed, and the news has stated that no civilians were killed. What is a suspected EU citizen if not a human being? If not a civilian? Each and every person here could be accidentally killed, as a Brazilian man was by the UK secret services after the tube bombing in London. That person was an innocent person, and because their rights were suspended, because they were treated as if they were an other, they were killed and they had no due process.

We should look to the Norwegians for a response, rather than the Americans. After Breivik committed egregious acts of racist, violent, terrorism, Norway decided that they would choose a path of more democracy, one where instead of alienating and pushing people away, instead Norway as a country would continue to do things in the way that they had always done them, refusing to terrorise, refusing to allow the terrorists to change Norwegian society. We should look to that. We should not follow the American example, we should follow the Norwegian example of more democracy and not violence.

And so in fact the response we should consider is the response of expanding our liberty. Yes, we must fight extremism, specifically we should fight the extremism that states have no limits on what they may do or how they may do it. The Council of Europe and the Court of Human Rights exists here today because we understand from history that that is a lie.

States commit terrorism, just as others can, and we must not forget that that lesson is a hard won lesson. If we want to get rid of violent extremists, we must remember that extremists silence us with violence or threats of violence. So we must be extreme in our openness, in our welcoming nature, we must be extreme in a commitment to justice, and with an absolute refusal to push away refugees.

We must remember that we have an obligation to refugees that comes from a history where others did not act correctly, without that obligation. There is an extremism that is correct, that we have an unlimited right to form and to hold beliefs, that these rights must not be abridged. This includes the right to a trial, and our right to face an accuser. And there's a new notion: that we will all be free, and will remain free as long as we submit to endless security checks, border controls, mass and targeted surveillance, and mandatory identification for nearly all interactions. But this notion of freedom is simply incompatible with freedom as we understand it, through the Court of Human Rights, through individual and through societal values of liberty.

NSA, Fort Meade. Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.
NSA, Fort Meade. Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.
And we see political opportunism, such as by Robert Bob Litt from the intelligence community, who suggests for example that “the legislative environment is very hostile today”, however, “it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.”

There is a value, he said, “in keeping our options open for such a situation”. Those people are as despicable as terrorists when they would seek to exploit the deaths of these people, to erode our liberties for their own personal power.

We must be extreme in our openness, in our welcoming nature, we must be extreme in a commitment to justice.

So there is technology today that helps us to confirm, to ensure, and to expand our liberties, where we have a right to read, and we have a right to speak freely, and a responsibility to be good to each other. These people wish to weaken our infrastructure, they wish to enable private and government censorship on the internet, they call for back doors, or front doors which would put us at risk.

There are two things you can do right now if you would like. First, you can install Signal on your smartphone, which will give you encrypted voice calls and text messages without backdoors, beating targeted and mass surveillance. I encourage you to do that now, it’s free software, and it’s free of cost. And you can install the Tor browser, which will give you the ability to browse the web and to be anonymous on the internet, where you'll actually be able to do things without leaving a data trail where spies can twist it and harm you later. And where it will make it more difficult for people to target you for other kinds of cyber-crime. Both of them are free software, implemented for freedom.

Remember, it is the same intelligence services who want backdoors today, who are exploiting this tragedy, who exploited Vodafone in Greece, to wiretap the prime minister, who did mass surveillance on all of Europe. We cannot trust them. It is the intelligence services of the US and the UK that use their surveillance systems to enable extra-judicial assassination.

We should secure the internet, and to ensure that such things are more difficult, if not impossible. Our security situation today is not a matter of security versus privacy. Our security requires strong privacy, and our security requires autonomy, it requires transparency and accountability, it requires free speech, it requires fundamental human rights to be respected. And rather than less democracy, we need more democracy. Rather than less secure systems, we need more secure systems. And we need to use them, to run them, and to fund them.

I hope you'll join me in installing free software for freedom and fighting against mass surveillance, and refusing to be instrumentalised by the people who have failed us – our intelligence services.

Artistic response on surveillance in the post-Snowden era - Elevate Festival PRO 201511

Artistic response on surveillance and the deep web in the post-Snowden era

The Internet as we know it is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath there lies another dimension of data, the ”deep web”. The deep web is that part of the world wide web not indexed by standard search engines. Since the Snowden revelations we know that intelligence agencies commonly use the Internet for mass surveillance, so this deep web has become the only ”free net”.

In parallel existence to the deep web is the ”darknet”, a term often used by the press to describe an anonymous peer-to-peer network, only accessible via certain software (e.g. Tor), which uses encryption to hide the user's identities. The darknet gained a lot of media attention when the virtual marketplace for illegal goods “Silk Road” was seized by the FBI in 2013.

Whistleblowers and journalists rely on the anonymous channels of communication offered by the structures of the dark web. Such technology is becoming a necessary tool for activists who fight political censorship and the repression of free speech.

These two facets of the global data network that we call the “Internet” have sparked a public discourse about Internet censorship and net neutrality.

More and more Internet artists are making use of the hidden potential of the deep web, engaging with themes of surveillance, privacy, code, anonymity, hacking and journalism. With a focus on the intersection of art, technology and politics, they deliver a creative response to recent events which are changing our world.

In this event, Addie Wagenknecht reports on the ”Deep Lab”, the traces of cyberfeminism and how to use drones to make art. !Mediengruppe Bitnik and hacktivist/artist Jacob Appelbaum, who recently collaborated with Ai Weiwei, speak about their position as artists and their creative response to new media. Both Appelbaum and Weiwei experienced direct political repression at the hands of the secret service because of their work.


Jacob Appelbaum (US)
!Mediengruppe Bitnik (CH) - via Videostream
Addie Wagenknecht (US) - via Videostream

Moderation: Berit Gilma (Elevate/AT)