• Cyberinsecurity: is there a cure?

    by  • August 13, 2013 • Everything Else • 2 Comments

    It’s taken me two weeks to write this. This is the pitch for the third Big Picture Day, on Tuesday 20th of August, at Limewharf in London. We’re going to talk about the NSA, Snowden, and the changing relationship we need to have with the technology not to get generation-gapped.


    I knew, as soon as the Snowden thing popped, that nothing was going to be the same. I went to OHM2013, a big hacker camping festival in the Netherlands. 3000 people, five government whistleblowers who had attemted to stop illegal surveillance in the past. At least one scary-realistic Ed Snowden look alike. Even a hexayurt.

    I am afraid. We had a week, and we failed to retell the story of our lives relative to what we actually know about the vast, secretive spying operations which are run against us. I hardly know a single friend that, at some point in their life, hasn’t done something worthy of the attention of law enforcement: riding freight trains, for example, became a big “critical national infrastructure” deal after 9/11. All those messages, sitting in a pile, waiting for the State to decide they’ve had enough of freight train riders and prosecute. It could happen to any group.

    So I wanted to host a conversation about what has happened, and about what we know now. There was an attempt a few years ago to rename the cell phone “the tracker.” Now I wonder, given that everything you and I do on the internet is monitored, and much or all of it stored for posterity, is the internet still a valid concept? Or is there simply a single giant eye, the Palantir from Lord of the Rings, showing us the Eye of Sauron every time we go online?

    This is a very critical and fast-moving situation. The recently revealed shakedown of the Guardian offices, the situation with David Miranda, the continuing flow of leaked information proves – without a doubt – that current events have rattled the governments invovled badly. We all need to be concerned about this.

    So come to Limewharf at 6PM on Tuesday 20th of August to meet and discuss the issues together. We’re putting together a few short talks to briefly frame some of the issues, but this event will mainly be small group conversations about the issues, and about what they mean for our lives and culture.

    Do please come: it’s our chance to reset the narrative about what is happening, and perhaps emerge with some new ideas about what to do next.

    Doors open 6PM for meet, greet and initial discussions.

    Speakers start 7PM.

    Confirmed speakers

    • Smari McCarthy – Icelandic civil rights activist, International Modern Media Initiative
    • Ed Geraghty – UK Pirate Party – “How did we get here? What’s the historical context behind all this surveilance?”
    • Vinay Gupta – former NSA contractor (kinda) – “A failure of imagination: why is re-inventing the Stasi the best thing the US government can think of do with the internet?”

    After the speakers, there’ll be a chance for extended in-depth discussion, mostly in small groups, so we all get a chance to think together about how this is going to affect us personally, politically and long into the future.

    Particular thanks to Thomas Ermacora for helping me get unstuck on this session. Invaluable assistance!

    Cyberinsecurity is the third in the Big Picure Days event series at @Limewharf in London. The first event was Swarm Cooperatives on mass collaboration. The second was Stacktivism on politics and critical infrastructure.

    I hope you can come. This one’s going to be a doozy.



    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


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