I would love to write about the Internet and Democratic Change conference that took place in Stockholm on the 26th of October 2011 as it was a great experience for me.
Skipping the fact that Mina Zekri didn’t wake me up intentionally, the opening session and the coffee breaks, the first speech I attended was for Prof.Scott Lucas from Birmingham University talking about the decentralization of the media. He mentioned how he did not appreciate twitter until November, 2008; when twitter covered the bombing in Mumbai, India while traditional media couldn’t. In December 2008 when the Gaza war broke out and all the media were broadcasting from Jerusalem or Cairo, the people inside Gaza who had mobile phones tweeted about it and we started being aware that white phosphorus was being used which is a prohibited weapon and thanks for twitter we knew about it 72 hours before it came up on the BBC. I loved how he said that no one should define anything for us any more, no one should tell us where to get information as now, we are the media and everyone has the right to contribute or not.
The second speech i attended was for Jacob Appelbaum AKA @ioerror on twitter; his speech was about internet surveillance beyond circumvention. He talked about the censorship, the tor project and avoiding the governments’ ways to spy on civilians. He mentioned how mobile phones, emails and social networks are all linked together logging all our activities which ends up saving all our information. Appelbaum’s point was that we should not accept any kind of surveillance as the police has no right going through anyone’s history considering him/her “bad” according to whatever they define the “bad” person.
The whole speech was about how we should NOT trust the police or anyone to “lawfully intercept” our communication under any circumstances as we cannot make sure that their equipment might not get intercepted or that they are “good” people. He spoke about the Finfisher’s deal with Egypt and how people think about profit over people while we should think about people before profits; then started the Q&A.
“To be realistic, people are pro “lawful interception” and sometimes they might turn a blind eye on torture just for the sake of being “safe” as governments promises them, so how come we can preach for anonymity and privacy while ensuring the people that the police will “protect us from terrorists?”", I asked
“The most realistic threat that comes to our lives comes from the state! I have had FBI agents watching my girlfriend with goggles, that is fucking terrorism, when you can’t tell the difference between criminals and the state then they have crossed the line. I think the police has enough enabling, they have so much human capital to investigate without intercepting communication, my country -The USA- killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, isn’t that terrorism? we should just stop people from killing each other”, he replied
Then, Salma Said then talked to him about how one time she was chatting with a friend and they were trying a program that encrypts the chat and since the government could not figure out what they were talking about “They assumed that we will storm the ministry of defence, which we were not planning to do,, yet“, she said and the whole hall laughs and applauds.
Then Appelbaum makes his point by saying that service providers should enable encryption and privacy by default and not as an option for the user; as millions of people take trains while not knowing and not caring about how to drive one.
The whole debate was wonderful and when we got out for the coffee break, I stood with @Kyrah from Austria, @MinaZekri and a lot of other people discussing Swedish politics, Internet privacy, The seminars we attended and finally talked about traditions and human rights. I would like to quote Kyrah saying “We are just some crazy people who wants to change the world, we don’t want the normal job and family, following the rules but we just want a better world for everybody”
To be continued ..