Glenn Greenwald’s keynote at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg was quite impressive. I found listening to it quite worthwhile, and highly reccomend it.
Some of Greenwald’s points I found particularly interesting:
How can we fight back against surveillance?
Greenwald discusses four main avenues how the surveillance state can be pushed back (my comments in italics).
- Public debate leading to legislative changes through the US Congress.
Although, this is probably the option most mentioned, Greenwald doesn’t see a lot of chances that this will really change something. He mentions several examples where Congress’s and the administration’s reaction to public outrage was completely symbolic.
- A group of like-minded countries comes together and fights effectively back against US surveillance. Legally and/or technologically.
He finds this much more likely. I’d say that mostly depends on the amount of pressure we can excert on our governments.
- US internet corporations might feel economic costs of their collaboration with the US government, and fight back.
This is a very interesting thought. It’ll only work if consumers start to look more closely into their internet-related companies and boycott those, that, e.g., freely share their customer’s data with the US & UK gov. However, my experience with friends and colleagues has been that the understanding for the importance of this act is still very limited.
- In the end, Greenwald says, the most important battle is the technological one.
It’ll depend on the quality and integrity of software like TOR, OTR, PGP to determine how much freedom & privacy will still be possible on the internet. Greenwald of course strongly appeals to the Hacker’s conference’s audience. However, he does have a very important point.
One other very notable element of his talk is the surprising reluctance of media to believe that intelligence and law enforcement agencies will lie about their methods – although they have been proven to do it again and again.
Glenn spoke via video conference. Unfortunately, here is only the audio, and for the Q&A part there are only his answers, not the questions from the audience.
You can download the audio here (54min).