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[liberationtech] What's wrong with the kids these days? - On the moral decay of the Dutch hacker scene

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at
Tue Mar 26 12:03:52 PDT 2013

> What's wrong with the kids these days?
> On the moral decay of the Dutch hacker scene

I'm really happy to see that someone took the time to write this article
and I'm also happy to see that it was related to puscii. For those that
do not know the history of ascii and puscii - these two groups are two
extremely important parts of Dutch/European sustainability, artistic,
hacking and autonomous culture. I've long respected their squatting
activity, their Free Software ethics and their political actions.

I find the observations in the article extremely grim and depressing -
it is largely as a matter of agreement, I might add. The desire to
collaborate with authoritarian power structures is often hand-waved away
with "one has to eat" or "we're not helping Syria" style arguments.
They're often followed up with arguments about fear of punishment or
about the so-called justice done on occasion by such structures. The
privatization of this kind of policing is concerning. It is built on the
already questionable notion that the police themselves would be
legitimate actors in this space if they merely had the talent. This is
false in many cases and such partnerships generally seek to expand the
authoritarian reach of the State, without any of the democratic
oversight, transparency or even the semblance of consent on the topics
at hand. Most people hardly understand the abstract ideas involved, let
alone the actual concrete details.

The Dutch police actually do this on many levels - that is - they do it
not only with private Dutch companies like Fox-IT but also with other
law enforcement. The FBI has some full time people who are embedded
within the Dutch law enforcement offices. My understanding is that they
have desks in the same (!) office area as other Dutch police. Consider
this as a threat not only to the Dutch democratic processes but also to
the notion that the Netherlands is somehow independent in terms of
law-enforcement and intelligence. Surely, one would not jest that the
FBI deployed with the Dutch police would serve the Dutch police first,
right? Perhaps they'll take some puscii members who are actually Dutch
citizens to sit with their FBI office counterparts? It seems doubtful
and as such, it raises questions on a number of levels.

I've met a lot of Dutch police in the last few months as I have recently
visited the Hague for the latest NCSC event. Many of the higher level
computery security folks are personally nice people. Even some of the
AiVD people are personally friendly - quite a difference from some of
the other intelligence agencies. Obviously, I'm not in agreement with a
lot of their policies, their methods, tactics, strategies or even
comfortable with their relationships. While they do work for goals that
I think are reasonable such as stopping non-consensual human
trafficking, it is perhaps with methods that may lead to abuse or other
serious concerns. I don't hold any personal contempt for them for doing
what amounts to a thankless job. I do however find myself thinking that
the new Dutch hacking generation should not forget that some power
structures are not worth supporting simply because one is not personally
oppressed by it on a daily basis.

With that said, the complicity of hackers in these kinds of actions is
beyond loathsome. Rather than helping to actually secure our systems, we
see compromises that undermine the very core of our modern world. If we
look to the physical world for an analog of such total surveillance,
even in camera heavy parts of the world, humanity still largely rejects
such total spying programs, if they are lucky enough to be consulted at
all. Why then should people of any stripe help to build similar systems
that are nearly total and almost completely incomprehensible to most
people on the planet? The answer is simple: we shouldn't! Hackers and
those who are technically literate have a responsibility to consider the
larger issues at stake. Those who don't, who just follow orders, who use
simplistic self-serving reasoning in place of thoughtful ethics - those
people are building a world where most of humanity will be subservient
to such architecture. Total identification, total and complete logs of
our activities, our relationships, our beliefs, our experimentations,
our core values - everything. History will not reflect well on such
people and the near future will be extremely uncomfortable if those
resisting have anything to say about it.

I look forward to leaked documents and leaked software about companies
like Fox-IT as well as details on such surveillance programs. While
people are digging, don't forget to identify the people and the money
trails involved - if such companies will promote and construct such
systems for all of us, lets give it to them first!

Leak more documents!

In solidarity,

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