- It is clear to many more people today than in 2005 that the world is headed for turbulent times and that this perfect storm is still very much out there. But obviously the fight over privacy is still ongoing, so in that sense we were wrong: we did not lose the war, at least not completely and not everywhere.
- The Netherlands used to be a country like Sweden or Denmark. Then it was a country like Germany for a bit in the nineties and after a confusing period with political murders and truly insane political developments we are now approaching England. I’m still guessing we’ll level out before we reach Italy, but it really is becoming hard to tell.
- Maybe we should not have been so negative. But in the 17 years before “We lost the war” I did bring a lot of my amazement, joy and positive outcomes to Congress, for instance phone phreaking, pager receivers, XS4ALL and the fight against Scientology. And I did so afterwards as well with the whole voting machine episode.
- I am probably blessed with a mild form of bipolarism. I don’t really get clinically depressed. I don’t stay in bed for weeks, nor do I contemplate suicide. But I do have my ups and downs and around 2005 this came together with my mid-life crisis and I was mighty grumpy and pissed off. Sure there were personal factors, but the situation in the Netherlands and the world was part of the problem. This did get to a point where more and more people were telling me to see a doctor. They told me: “There are pills to make you happy again you know…”
- One of the positive suggestions we did offer in “We lost the war” was to focus on battles that could be won. If I had I listened to all these other people around me, I would have been taking Prozac or Zoloft in 2005. My life would have been different and possibly much happier, especially in the short term. But a lot of things that happened to me since then would probably not have happened, because they involve me being angry and attempting to do something about it.
- I probably travelled more in the last year and a half than I did in the ten years before that. It started October of 2009, when Julian Assange and myself were keynote speakers at the Hack In The Box hacker conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We subsequently spent a month in the sun traveling Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia and we got to know each other pretty well. A month or two after, at the previous congress, WikiLeaks was still a relatively obscure geeky but gutsy journalism project. Julian and Daniel got a standing ovation while they stood on this stage speaking about WikiLeaks and about new opportunities for protecting freedom of the press in Iceland. Three weeks later, I was was in Reykjavik with them and others to help write the proposal for IMMI, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative. Then I was home for a week before leaving for India to speak on voting machines. Then I was home for three weeks before leaving for Iceland again, this time to help out on releasing the now famous Iraqi helicopter video. This was not planned: I read the WikiLeaks twitter feed, concluded that Julian needed help so I flew out a few hours later. I stayed for two very hectic weeks, helped produce the video and travelled with Julian to a press conference in Washington.
- So I helped WikiLeaks release the video. After that, I needed to get back to my e-Voting related work, but I could have stuck around helping WikiLeaks also. They could probably have used me when they released the war diaries or these cables. That did not happen. I guess I could make up all sorts of stories about how I disagreed with people or decisions, but the truth is that in the period that I helped out, the possible ramifications of WikiLeaks managed to scare the bejezus out of me. Courage is contagious, my ass. I wish Julian and his people well, but I can’t live a life out of a backpack while on the run. Not to mention the fact that Julian has better hair and does much better soundbites.
- Some of my friends have said Julian has “angered the Gods”, Bruce Sterling recently accused him of “weeing all over the third rail” and a good friend of mine said Julian was committing “suicide by cop”. Whatever we make of it, present anger and fear at governments over WikiLeaks will probably up the pressure to curb internet freedoms. Whether connected to WikiLeaks or not: Cryptowars 2.0 has just been announced. There’s a new American proposal to make all providers of any kind of online service provide the authorities with cleartext of everything that happens. As a result of WikiLeaks, authorities the world over will probably try even harder to clamp down on internet freedom, so organizations resisting this will have to work harder also.
- The fact that politicians are generally helpless in terms of public policy doesn’t mean to say I think they are stupid. They do have a vague sense of what might be coming and they’re acting accordingly. To judge their efficiency take a good look at the remaining public funds and public infrastructure and see who owns it in 5 years time. Our leaders are reassuring us that the ship will certainly survive the growing storm. But on closer inspection they are either quietly pocketing the silverware or discreetly making their way to the lifeboats. Even politicians that are the exception, ones that “get it” and that want to help get us out of this mess are increasingly indistinguishable from those that just pretend. We will have to learn to navigate a world in which every imaginable aspect of being genuine or sincere has 10.000 spindoctors working on how to transplant it to the fake turds that run things. Now this all sounds really smug. Like we, the hackers, the geeks, somehow have all the answers. We don’t. But we do have some important parts.
- Apple, Google, Facebook and the more geographically challenged traditional governments will try to make all of humanity enter their remaining secrets, they’ll try to make attribution of every bit on the internet a part of the switch to IPv6, they’ll further lock us out of our own hardware and they’ll eventually attempt to kill privacy and anonymity altogether.
- We’re not called Chaos Computer Club because we cause chaos. If anything, a lot of our collective work has actually prevented chaos by pointing out that maybe we should lay some decent virtual foundations before we build any more virtual skyscrapers. Wau Holland explained the name to me: he felt there was universal validity in a set of -then rather new- theories that explained complex systems and behavior from random events and very few very simple rules. This helped him explain a lot of how the world worked and how one could navigate a future a la ‘shock wave rider’. We may not cause chaos, but we do understand some small part of how chaos works, and we have been able to help others deal with it better. As this world becomes more chaotic and ad-hoc, we can help.
- Anthropologist Margaret Mead once famously said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
My keynote at 27C3
WikiLeaks co-producer Rop Gonggrijp: First Hacker and Techno Anarchist of the Netherlands
Blast from the past: “We lost the war” 2005 22nd Chaos Communication Congress Lecture by WikiLeaks co-producer Rop Gonggrijp and former Chaos Computer Club spokesperson Frank Rieger