On Friday October 17th I was interviewed by Russia Today on the security of 'secure' smartphone apps that turn out to not be so secure. After 18 months of Snowden revelations that should be not news but for the Guardian newspaper it is.
Last year during my December visit on London I gave a 1 hour interview to London Real. This is great new free-form 1+ hr completly unscripted interview program that is available on Youtube and as a podcast. Tired of the superficial 3-minute interviews that stop just when things get interesting? London Real is your channel. If you want to keep up to date on the London startup/tech scene then checkout Silicon Real.
Brian Rose and me spoke about NSA-spying, the nature of privacy, copyright, bitcoin and much more. The interview begins at 7:48. For more check out the London Real site. Compact mp3 for download here.
On December 25th 2013 Edward Snowden delivered an alternative Christmas message on the UK's channel 4 TV station. Before the broadcast a short version of the speech was leaked and immediatly uploaded to youtube. That upload was immediatly blocked but many re-uploads made the clip available everywhere. This is one of those places. If you want to thank Edward Snowden for giving up his relationship, familiy, job and any chance of a normal life to inform us all go here and donate. Or spread his message. And do something with it. Because if something is done all of Edward's sacrifices have meaning.
The UK Centre for Investigative Journalism is a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating and training journalists to benefit the quality of journalism and thus public debates on important topics in society. Every year the CIJ holds a 3-day summer school where journalists can follow lectures, participate in workshops and meet with some of the foremost professionals in their field. Several months ago, when the CIJ asked me to help set up a workshop in information security, we had no idea then how hot the subject would become after the revelations by former NSA-contractor Edward Snowden. I was very happy to see the room at London City University was packed with journalists eager to learn both theory and practice of securing their communications and protecting their data. An overview of theory & tools for those who missed it, slides here, video below.
Being in London for a few days also allowed me to contribute to a cryptoparty (a workshop for teaching info security basics to anyone interested) that was kindly hosted and wonderfully supported by the London Hackerspace. Dozens of people from all walks of life showed up and we had a great time.
If you would like to attend such a workshop contact your local hackerspace and join or look at this list of upcoming cryptoparties. If nothing is planned in your area start a group yourself. The time for it has never been more propitious. The links above can get you started. If you get stuck mail me and I'll be happy to put you in contact with people near you.
Below a recording of the theory introduction part of the workshop at the 2013 summer school. After this intro the whole class worked together for several hours setting up software tools for email-encryption, anonymous browsing and testing these new capabilities with colleagues. By the end of the day over 30 journalists were tooled up to receive scoops from high-risk whistleblowers.
On February 26th 2013 I gave a talk at Reykjavik University in Iceland on Privacy & Online freedoms. The whole thing played out in during and Icelandic election season were a proposal to put a national filter on Iceland's internet connection to block violent pornography caused quite an uproar in Iceland and abroad. Slides of this presentation here.
A short summary of my talk for the 2010 CCC SigInt conference in Cologne, Germany.
Most European governments are busy migrating important components of their IT-systems to opensource alternatives. The Netherlands was the first western country to develop a comprehensive policy for its entire public sector in 2007 but is lagging its neighbors in working implementations. The comprehensive policy in the Netherlands is focused on the practical advantages of open systems such as interoperability and lower cost and no vendor-lock, these reasons are also shared by policies in the UK and Denmark.
German, Spanish and French policies seem to have a more political dimension by also stressing national independence of critical systems and the possibility of code-audits as important reasons for going the open route. By comparing Dutch progress (and sometimes lack thereof) with our neighboring countries some lessons can be learned about what policies work and what some of the required conditions are for them to work in different political and IT-legacy environments.
For over a million years we lived as hunter-gatherers in small family groups, for thousands of years we lived as farmers in small villages, for 200 years we lived in cities and built industry. Now we live globally in a world that is changing faster every day than ever before through new ideas and technologies.
Sickness and mortality? Scarcity of material goods? Humans as the most intelligent beings? How very 20th century!
Our history has not prepared us for these changes, Our cultures, ideologies and religions provide no answers to many of the new questions we are faced with. Trying to impose old world views or ways of doing things on a new world is a recipe for failure, whether you are a company, government or individual.
For businesses the challenge will be to provide valuable products in a world where many things that were expensive in the recent past have quickly become very cheap or essentially free. Governments will struggle to remain relevant in a world that moves much faster than they can and where geographical location is becoming less and less important for the individual citizens' identity, income and social network.
All of us will be challenged to rediscover what being human means in a world that is constantly changed by new technologies that we cannot really control. Do we try to stop these changes or can we adapt to them? What are some of the risks we face if we use all these new technologies? What are the rewards we might miss out on if we decide to not use them?
This type of presentation is part of our scenarioplanning services. Other visual examples in Dutch are this TV appearance in 2005, a short film we made for one of our finance clients in the summer of 2008 and another film we helped make about the future of culture and knowledge.
On the second day of HAR2009 a copyright debate was held between the entertainment industry and the hacker community at HAR2009 in the Netherlands. Tim Kuijk very bravely represented the views of the entertainment industry while Walter van Holst and myself put forth a range of contrarian views and Prof.dr Wilfred Dolfsma moderated us and a full Monty Hall of hackers. Because of some slight historic animosity between hackers and the entertainment industry we made a real effort to keep everything civilised. Since no tomatoes were see flying or Godwin's law invocations were required I think we succeeded. I've stated my personal views on copyright in the 21st century on various occasions on this blog.
Had fun doing talk this afternoon at HAR2009. While I was taking a nap afterward someone wrote a very nice review on the HAR wiki.
To spice things up a bit I added a new aspect about areas of public sector IT that should be under ultimate control by public sector organisations. I'm still refining these ideas but this is the gist of it:
In modern nations many laws and policies are implemented through software and supporting computer systems. Control over these systems is therefore control over the functioning of the state and its laws. A democratic government should therefore have total control over critical information processing functions, on behalf of its citizens. Having access to the sourcecode and the right to compile it into working binaries is a crucial part of this control. Examples of area's of application are voting tabulation, national defense&security, the police- and justice system, power grids, water and sewage systems, Air-traffic, harbour and transport control systems and the national media. Opensourcing these critical government applications and supporting systems is therefore a required step for continued national sovereignty.
On January 1st, 2002 I tried to use the website of the Dutch national railway (www.ns.nl) using Linux. The site refused me access, it was IE-only. This sparked a conversation with members of parliament about the need for open standards. Over a five year period I progressed from talking to opposition-MP's to meeting the economics minister directly and was able to significantly influence national policy despite total lack of funding or any specific mandate.