The Surveilled Net – The bpb-Subconference at #rp14

 “I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under." -- Edward Snowden, interview with The Guardian, 10 June 2013

During the course of last, the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden have exposed the comprehensive surveillance of digital communication by Western intelligence services, foremost by the NSA and GCHQ. The near total storage and analysis of our emails, text messages, online chats and IP data is accelerating the erosion of privacy and will be a prominent topic at re:publica. Together with The Federal Agency of Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung - bpb), we will be continuing the debate on the NSA spying scandal, through our subconference “Überwachtes Netz” (“The Surveilled Net”).  

One of the bpb’s main tasks is to promote understanding of political issues and strengthen political co-operation, through (political) education – and where better to do this than at re:publica? We’ve, once again, joined forces and developed an event programme which seeks to discuss the most important questions following the Snowden-leaks:  

  • What are the policies and mechanisms that make surveillance of the Internet possible?
  • How does our understanding of the vulnerability of our personal information shape our thoughts and actions?
  • What can we learn from this?
  • How can we regain control of the Net and resist digital disenfranchisement?

In our programme, we would like to explore the Internet’s darkest abysses as well as its greener glades in the form of talks and panel discussions.  

Ron Deibert and Morgan Marquis-Boire will guide their audience through the battlefields of the Internet. The two experts from Citizens Lab in Toronto have been dealing with cyber-warfare and Internet surveillance for years and will give first-hand reports from current and future threats to the Net.

Algorithm expert Yvonne Hofstetter battles through the tortuous thicket of Big Data and makes seemingly vast amounts of data useful. She knows the potentials and dangers of automated data analysis, like no other.  

Jillian York and Jacob Applebaum charge the crypto-barriers and report on what we can learn from the histories of past social movements when it comes to defending and explaining principles of freedom and privacy.

Erich Möchel, veteran journalist on data protection and digital rights, can already see the starts of a new social movement for the defence of information. But for it to succeed, several barriers need addressing.

Priya Basil founded the writers platform “authors for peace” in 2010 and started the international online petition “writers against mass surveillance” 2013, in which she and more than 560 writers from across the globe demand a new Convention on Human Right for the digital age.

Expect these speakers and further sessions and panels during “Überwachtes Netz” – an #rp14 subconference, in association with the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.


Photo: Foto: Charles Cramm "Art Amsterdam - #Surveillance camera a la Delfts Blauw" CC BY 2.0