Special Topic: Surveillance

Are we under surveillance and by whom? What can we do about it? After the NSA scandal, digital surveillance has become one of the most debated topics of our time. Experts, scientists and hackers speak out on Voice Republic.


Samizdata_teaser resistance against surveillance

By analysing tactics and strategies of resistance against surveillance connected with the Snowden affair in physical and digital life, this conference event brought together hackers, artists and critical thinkers, who apply and work on the concept of social justice from different angles. The goal was not to bring clear instructions, but to imagine possible alternatives for the development of shared forms of post-digital resistance.

Attended by Jacob Appelbaum (USA/DE), Laura Poitras (USA), Theresa Züger (DE), Jørgen Johansen (NO), Jaromil (IT/NL), Sophie Toupin (QC/CA), Valie Djordjevic (DE).

All talks

Peter Galison (Harvard University) “Secrecy, Surveillance, and the self”

Fear and Loathing on the Internet: The Surveillance Landscape & Coercion Resistant Design

For the last couple years, Morgan Marquis-Boire has focused on tracking and preventing digital attacks against high risk user groups – primarily journalists, dissidents, and activists. Increasingly, these attacks are being carried out by nation-states for espionage and surveillance purposes. Studying campaigns targeting activists in Morocco, Libya, Syria, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain during the so-called “Arab Spring” led to analysis of the global proliferation of a variety of ‘Western’ produced offensive solutions.Against this backdrop, this talk will contextualize recent surveillance revelations with the rise of the commercial market for offensive digital capability.

Disrupting the Surveillance Ecosystem

Modern government surveillance relies on a system of legal data collection authorities, cross-border data transfer agreements, and cooperation of private companies, either voluntarily or by legal compulsion. Under the apparent guise of national security, this system creates a dynamic global surveillance machine that intrudes on the international human rights of users with little to no transparency or accountability. This talk explains how the surveillance machine is organized and the challenges and opportunities to reform and fix the system. Special attention will be paid to grassroots movements that have popped up around the world to support change, with the goal of answering the most basic question: how can we protect users? Speakers: Jérémie Zimmermann, Raegan MacDonald, Parker Higgins.

Watching the Watchers: Building a Sousveillance State

“Proficient in Microsoft Word and Xkeyscore” and similar phrases are surprisingly common on LinkedIn profiles. NSA contractors, military, and others involved in the surveillance state post seemingly coded and harmless details about their work in job listings, social media, and other open websites. But this information provides useful metadata that can be used to understand the function of secret programs and map the surveillance state. Transparency Toolkit has been building open source tools to collect and analyze this open source intelligence. This talk discusses how we can use these data sources and tools to build a sousveillance state that holds the surveillance state accountable.

Corporate Surveillance in the Age of Digital Tracking, Big Data & Internet of Things

Today virtually everything we do is monitored in some way. Nearly every device we use is connected to the Internet. Wolfie Christl, an Austrian digital activist presents his study on global trends corporate surveillance in the age of Big Data and Internet of Things. Study: Digital Tracking and Corporate Surveillance. Collecting, Analyzing and Selling Personal Data in the Age of Big Data: Global Trends, Examples, Risks and Challenges.

THE DATABASE NATION, a.k.a India’s State of Surveillance

The “world’s largest democracy” strongly leaning towards becoming a surveillance state raises many questions and poses severe challenges for free speech and economic justice, not just in India but globally. This talk by Kaustubh Srikanth and Maria Xynou will map and review the current political, socio-cultural and legal landscape of mass-surveillance, data protection and censorship in India and analyse how it ties in to the global landscape of surveillance and censorship. It will also aim to create a discussion space to investigate the deeper effects of these so called “welfare” projects and how citizen-led movements can drive the state towards stronger data protection and privacy laws.

Google Nest: Your data, our future

With the rapid digitisation of our lives, we began to lose control. Surveillance looms all over, digital identities run away from real ones, children retreat into devices and virtual networks, and all the while our insurances premiums increase. Google Nest presents the future of your favourite digital tool, with a range of new products to assure the best for your life and insure you against the worst. Does it? A talk by Paul von Ribbeck and Gloria Spindle.


Surveillance cameras are something we notice conspicuously often. But does everyone? We would rather say no, and this is something we are not glad about. Jugend hackt has been searching for another way to raise awareness of surveillance. “Awearness” was born, a wristband that vibrates when there’s a surveillance camera nearby, letting people haptically feel there’s something they should be aware of.

Photo: Jonathan McIntosh on flickr

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