Excerpt from a 1995 interview with Felipe Rodriquez and Rop Gonggrijp, By Shuchen Tan - translated by Patrice Riemens
For Gonggrijp, real hacking is now more or less something of the past. ”I’ve never been a truly great hacker myself” he admits. “What matters to me, are the ideas behind hacking: free access to information for everybody. In our society, information is no longer stocked in libraries and archives, but is burrowed in databases and spread over the network. It is a knowledge machine which ninety percent of the population can never access. To us, this is a great injustice, and we already stated so in the final resolution of the Galactic Hacker Party in 1989.”
To put these ideas in practice, Hacktic set up the XS4all foundation (speak: access for all) in 1994. XS4all runs a ‘server’ on which every computer-user can legally access the world wide Internet, for a fee of 25 guilders ($14) a month. Together with the ‘Balie’ cultural centre, the XS4all foundation was also instrumental in the creation of the ‘Digital City” project (DDS). This initiative is backed by a 60.000 guilders ($ 33.000) subsidy from the ministry of economic affairs.
“From a band of infamous computer-anarchists we have evolved into very respectable citizens indeed” says Gonggrijp, not without some irony. “We are even considered important to the Dutch economy.” Hacktic has worked purposely to bring about this swing in opinion, explains Felipe Rodriquez.
He is part of Hacktic’s core group since 1990 and he was closely connected with the establishment of XS4all and the Digital City project. Rodriquez: ”A few year ago, if you heard the name Hacktic, everyone would think of dangerous terrorists. In the yearbooks of the Dutch internal intelligence service (BVD), we would be portrayed as a band of nefarious anarchists, bent on disrupting society. But now they have come to see that we are nice and quiet people really, with the best of intentions.”
The finest hour came undoubtedly when CRI Inspector Harry Onderwater himself gave acte-de-presence at Hacktic’s magazine farewell-party (CRI, the criminal investigation unit of the national police, co-ordinates computer-’crime’-fighting in the Netherlands. -transl.). Gonggrijp is not overly surprised: “We have come to know each other better over the years and the hostile image we had of each other is simply becoming untenable. Better still, they even quite admire what we are doing.” The line between hacker and security expert is a thin and difficult one to draw, according to Gonggrijp. “Basically, we spring from the same nest. I know personaly of a number of security experts who were subscribers to Hacktic. That’s because in order to secure effectively, you first must be able to hack. It is a cat-and-mouse game, and we both know we are dependant upon each other.”
While the average computer-user is quite satisfied if sHe manages to get an access into the Internet, Hacktic is already immersed into the problems of
the 21st century. Main concerns here are cryptography and privacy protection. Gonggrijp: “Basically, the whole discussion about privacy in the network is something of the past. Due to the massive use of credit and bank cards, all kind of personal information is already floating in the network. Marketing specialists are able to get any kind of intelligence about you they want: what’s your car make, where did you eat out last week, what kind of stuff did you buy in the K-mart yesterday.”
Rodriquez: “Many people still tend to see the Internet as yet again a new mass-medium. I rather would see it as a natural evolution in human communication. Here you have, at long last, again a medium with which people can communicate with each other.” Gonggrijp: “The time of the mass-media, whereby one provider is going to decide what everyone else is going to see, that time is gone now. for a bleedin’ half century we have been looking at sitcoms like zombies! That’s not to-day’s world any longer, the people want to decide for themselves what they are going to look at, and they want to become providers. The Internet can play an important role here, because it is in itself an anarchistic system, without central authority. The mass-media are still working in terms of that big, middle-of-the-road cluster. The media are tame because they believe their public is tame.
It’s about time we put a bomb under those ‘keep-it-tame’ filters.”
Much more: http://pastebin.com/sTgz88X8
WikiLeaks co-producer Rop Gonggrijp: First Hacker and Techno Anarchist of the Netherlands