Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who Are Hacktivists? Using Tech for Social Action

This is an interesting discussion, nearly 2 hours worth, on the nature of the hacktivist movement - such as Edward Snowden or Anonymous.

The conversation below took place on July 10, 2014 at swissnex San Francisco in California.

Who Are Hacktivists?

Who Are Hacktivists? from swissnex San Francisco on


When privacy, particularly as it pertains to our lives online, is such a hot button issue it can deter some from getting into the meat of the conversation. Swissnex however, has organized this panel of forward thinkers who are living proof of the need for a front line offensive. Plucked from diverse fields of expertise, these five individuals provide intriguing insight and a wealth of knowledge. An exciting glimpse into the realm of online privacy and how the fight for our rights is waged day in and day out.   
It’s been a year since Edward Snowden leaked classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents to The Guardian newspaper in the UK, revealing widespread surveillance.

Today, the discussions around mass surveillance, privacy, and data collection are ongoing and heated, and the reputation of so-called hacktivists (people using computers and networks as a means of protest or action) is evolving.

Who are today’s hacktivists, and what tools and means do they use to express themselves and their ideals? Join artists, activists, researchers, and a "cypherpunk" to discuss and debate these questions, and to examine how to harness the power and pitfalls of computer systems and new technologies.


!Mediengruppe Bitnik (read - the not Mediengruppe Bitnik) live and work in Zurich and London. Using hacking as an artistic strategy, their works re-contextualize the familiar to allow for new readings of established structures and mechanisms. They have been known to intervene into London’s surveillance space by hijacking CCTV security cameras and replacing the video images with an invitation to play chess.

In early 2013, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo, sent a parcel equipped with a camera to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Their works have been shown and awarded internationally with the Swiss Art Award, Migros New Media Jubilee Award, Honorary Mention Prix Ars Electronica.

April Glaser is a staff activist at EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she focuses on community outreach and blogs about a wide range of digital rights issues. She works directly with community organizations interested in promoting free speech, privacy, and innovation in digital spaces, and she lectures frequently on these topics for groups large and small. Glaser previously worked at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, where she designed tools for civic engagement in media policy and spent years on the front lines of media justice advocacy and research.

Andy Isaacson is a software engineer and co-founder of the anarchistic and educational hackerspace Noisebridge in San Francisco. He runs the Noisebridge Tor exit node, a network that anonymizes internet users. He asks pointed questions about cryptography, security, and their intersection with society and ethics as @eqe on Twitter.

Thomas Maillart is a Swiss National Science Foundation Fellow at the UC Berkeley School of Information. His research is focused on the complex social dynamics of peer-production, and on the mechanisms of cyber risks as an innovation process. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanims of Internet Evolution & Cyber Risk from ETH Zurich and graduated (M.S.) in Engineering from EPFL, also in Switzerland.

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