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29C3 Live Stream from Hamburg (Keynote: Jacob Appelbaum) (fem-net.de)
59 points by rdl 1758 days ago | hide | past | web | 32 comments | favorite

People like Jake Appelbaum that manage (or actively try) to stay in the spotlight also educate the general public about security. That is something very valuable for a community: to have evangelists going around and spreading the word while getting all the attention. Just look at people like Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins, Jacob Bronowski, Carl Sagan, and so on. They could have all been doing science instead of working for months on television programs. They didn't because they believed educating the public is a worthwhile task. I sure hope we never run out of people that share the same opinion.

If Appelbaum is trying to educate the general public, he's doing a piss-poor job of it. Sagan, Dawkins and Chomsky approach[ed] the general public via the media and reach[ed] hundreds of millions of people. (Cosmos alone: over 500 million. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmos:_A_Personal_Voyage) Appelbaum found himself a community numbering in the tens of thousands, rode the coattails of actual researchers to prominence by making minor contributions to their work and overplaying his role, and now rests on other people's laurels. He's only a big fish because this pond is so small.

I am not as informed about Appelbaum as you seem to be, but regardless of his actual contributions to the field, maybe it's not so clear about whether or not he's doing a poor job educating the general public. The numbers of minds captivated with stories told by the likes of Carl Sagan are, as you mentioned, orders of magnitude bigger than what Appelbaum could accomplish. But take Mikko Hypponen or Moxie Marlinspike - great speakers with great things done - would you say that they come even close to what Noam Chomsky reaches with his talks? I don't have concrete data on this, but I do believe the answer to be a clear no. And that's maybe because the majority of the population of the world isn't as interested in computer security as they are in debates about religion, science, politics, sports, consumer electronics or whatever. Maybe this field is just too young to be a permanent part of day-to-day concerns or to have more than a couple of tens of thousands of people interested in it. And maybe that's why it's probably worth considering supporting the few public figures this field has.

Jake talks about politics, not computer security.

Jake Appelbaum is an attention-whore who wished for the wrong thing and got it.

The type of fight he's fighting, which, indeed, was foretold by the cypherpunks years before he ever compiled a program, is one of vast asymmetry. He's the source of the quote "the government has a monopoly on violence, but violence can't solve math problems".

The problem is, when you function within an outlawed organization using your above-ground identity, you choose to have your own life destroyed, rendering you unable to be effective in doing the things you talk about being so important. We're talking, here, about a guy who gives sensationalist interviews to Rolling Stone about how he can hack into anything on the internet.

They don't need to break your crypto. They can just break you.

When fighting the surveillance state, you can be famous, xor you can be effective. Period.

I wrote about this some time ago:

Don't believe the hype.

Every single person paying attention knows Wikileaks would have been way more effective if it had been fronted by a signing key instead of Julian Assange's haircut. They might have even been able to continue functioning instead of being extrajudicially harassed into oblivion.

These people serve as examples of how _not_ to effect meaningful change.

PS: It also speaks volumes about the current state of the Chaos Computer Club and their conference that they chose such a meaningless sycophant as their keynote speaker.

I think there is room for both, but I don't think wikileaks would have been as effective without their own (incredibly successful) media whoring.

Wikileaks, with somewhat less rape and insider strife, would have been a more effective organization, true. But a totally anonymous organization on the Internet probably wouldn't have attracted mainstream attention. I doubt dropping the Pentagon Papers today would have had much effect. I mean, 99% of what was in the War Files was essentially known to anyone willing to look, and even people with access wouldn't really read most AARs. It's boring. The controversy actually made more people look at it than would have if Cryptome had FOIA'd it or the DOD just declassified it.

Choosing to do what Jake did (sacrificing his own freedom to promote his agenda) is not something I'd want to do, but we're overall better off that some people are willing to do it. He's never been as technically accomplished as a lot of hackers (probably including Julian Assange), but more than a lot of others, but has been very effective at getting the Tor message out and generally promoting things.

I'd personally rather hang out with people creating technical countermeasures (or, even better, building stuff which is actually expanding human capability, like putting humans on Mars in a decade or extending human lifespan by 20-30 years), but not everyone can do that, and it probably doesn't make sense for everyone to do so.

Keynote talks at conferences rarely have technical content, too.

Just because a cause is right doesn't mean it doesn't need PR/marketing.

From your blog post: "The cables or other releases could be posted on torrent sites, signed by the Wikileaks organization, and it would be just as effective at generating the media circus and necessary public attention that they seek."

There's your biggest misconception about how the media and world/people's attention works right there.

Why do you think no layperson knows what the heck cryptome is, although they have been leaking stuff for far longer than Wikileaks? Why do you think cryptome (probably) hasn't changed anything and hasn't made anyone aware of anything?

You need the most publicity you can get as a leaking platform, as much as it will kill you (by making a person synonymous to the mission and providing an attack window) at the same time. And actual mass publicity will not be generated by putting it out there via bittorrent, which the majority of journalists don't even know about.

I believe this is a result of the PR actions performed by wikileaks amd the relationships they set up with news outlets, none of which Cryptome has ever bothered with.

They could have performed these tasks using nyms or anonymously, too.

They just wanted to be famous.

Probably the right thing to do is something like the IRA/Sinn Fein, where you've got a bunch of black ops somewhat connect to a somewhat accountable white operation.

I should probably mention that this guy has been following Appelbaum around the Internet for literally years, commenting like this on every post about him that he can find. He's @sneakatdatavibe from Twitter, IIRC.

Based on sneak's HN posting history, it would be weird if he let this one go by without commenting.

Interesting that you should post this, as Schneier literally posted a blog entry seconds ago entitled "Public Shaming as a Security Measure":


So what you're saying is that he actually believes what he's saying? THAT BASTARD. Thanks for alerting us.

So we basically have Anonymous or lulz-sec working on your proposed model. You think wikileaks made less noise and effect than Anonymous? Jacob's talk was a pretty good one for an attention whore and that's what keynote speeches are supposed to be about.

1) You can't use Anonymous as a subject for the verb "working" because it's not a noun - it's an adjective, and it's capitalized out of convention, not because it's a name.

2) Those calling themselves anonymous are still operating. Wikileaks is basically paralyzed (which is unfortunate).

3) The Federalist Papers.

4) The Arab Spring revolutions.

1) Just thought that in the context in lulzsec and wikileaks it was self evident that I'm not talking about the adjective.

2) Wikileaks without a face would not have been possible. When there's somebody prosecuted as viciously as Assange was people understand that something is at stake here.

3) What's that?

4) What about the Arab spring? I think it's a bit out of context in here. Just like Occupy movements.

Oh: bitcoin.

What do you think about Wikileaks desire to be treated like a journalistic organization (and afforded the same freedoms)?

While I like to give credit to the general public for being insightful, I think the notion of granting first amendment rights to a signing key pushes the limits of what might ever actually happen.

The decentralizing and anti-authoritarian forces of the internet also have the power to legitimize entities that are above ground yet hover outside the reach of traditional jurisprudence (napster, wikileaks, online poker). It's volatile but the stakes are getting higher and the strategies are getting smarter.

The point I think you overlooking is that if Wikileaks is a signing key then it becomes a lot more plausible that the leaked info is contrived and was planted there to achieve a propaganda goal. Like it or not, human authority structures are somewhat necessary to address issues like that. To offer a counterexample, Anonymous could be hijacked by the government far more easily than Wikileaks. I think the ideal social cryptosystem addresses this but does not exist yet, at least at a scale sufficient to have the kind of impact that Wikileaks has had.

As you describe it, they're not giving those rights to the key— instead they'd be acknowledging that the anonymous person using that key already has those rights.

Signatures don't generate themselves any more than guns fire themselves. You can't have a key and a signature without a human somewhere responsible for generating it, and that human is entitled to the right of publishing, even anonymously.

The Supreme Court (in the US, anyway) has found that prohibiting anonymous publishing abridges the basic freedom of speech.

I can tell from your post that you did not even listen to the talk (I just saw it live).

95% of his talk was not about crypto.

I saw about half of it, the stream is very intermittent.

It's more about listening to people like Jake in general than it is about what his talk says. He's got the wrong motives.

No. Laws can be changed, governments can be changed, people can be changed. In many cases you don't need a revolution for that change to happen.

However, you don't get much impact, other than being labelled criminals by working underground in secret.

Doh -- I didn't realize the URL was just to whoever was currently in Track 1 (which was Jake's keynote at the time). A better URL for the whole thing is http://29c3.fem-net.de/

There seem to be some technical difficulties; I hope the talks end up on YouTube afterward.

All videos will be uploaded after the congress.

they will not just be at youtube. much better, they will be available for streaming and download un various, some genuinely free, formats at http://media.ccc.de

For all not german-speaking: He's literally talking about how politicians and media use words and sentences to not blame themselves... Really funny...

I believe you are referencing "DIE WAHRHEIT, WAS WIRKLICH PASSIERTE UND WAS IN DER ZEITUNG STAND" (the truth, what really happened and what the newspapers said) http://events.ccc.de/congress/2012/Fahrplan/events/5181.en.h..., which is the talk after the keynote.

Jacob's talk was in English.

strange... your're right.... I just followed the link and saw this stream...

It was the link to a live-stream.

Talk has been posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl5OQz0Ko8c

I guess it's over by now; is a recording available yet?

The talks will be published 1-2 weeks after the congress (so expect it in mid-january)

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