Edward Snowden urges Hackers to unite against surveillance etc. (HopeX 2014)
For one of their panels, this year’s HopeX conference managed to connect Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg and invited the crowd to listen to an open conversation between the two, covering matters of surveillance, privacy, whistle-blowing and how to fix things that are broken.
Particularly with regards to the last point, Edward Snowden repeated what many Hackers and technologists have said before: If only the techies could unite, our leaverage would be incredible.
In his own words:
When we talk about, how do we fix this, how do we patch these holes, Julian Assange made a plea at one point where he said “Hackers of the world unite — Sysadmins of the world unite“. Anybody out there […] who posts on stack exchange or overflow […], you guys are part of the technical elite. If you’ve even heard of Tor or Tails […] Hell, if you’ve even heard of Linux. You are an advocate that is going to help us move forward in shifting the middle ground of technological literacy to the next generation. A lot of young people right now understand how technology works to an extend, but the system functions are hidden from them. They don’t know where the dangers are. They don’t know whether their communications are exposed. They don’t know how networking works. They trust their devices to handle everything. We all — any of us who know even the slightest bit have a civic duty to help educate people around us. Just like the rise of literacy, right, we had an obligation to teach people around us how to read and write. We have to teach people in our society how to interact with […] technology safely, reliably, and in a way that serves the interests of all of us. […] We don’t want a high priesthood of technology. No matter how good that is for us, because it’s bad for the world.
Notice the sentences I have underlined. In essence, Snowden repeats some of the premises of my research. Yes, I would rather say “ethical obligation”, not “civic duty” and “the interests of all sentient beings” not “us” (which sounds a lot like “us Americans/humans”), but those details aside, Snowden is spot on. Every hacker, every sysadmin, every engineer or programmer with the ability to help others understand technology and improve their ability to secure their privacy and freedom has the ethical obligation to do so. But not just that. What Edward Snowden doesn’t go far enough: they also have the ethical obligation to refuse to contribute to the design, production, application and governance of technologies that do not serve the interest of “all of us”.
Watch the segment below: