Community 2.0

The past week has been very turbulent in the infosec scene, where a very prominent person has been accused of sexual abuse. The accused, Jacob Appelbaum, is a friend of mine, and I was quite surprised of the accusations.

I first want to say that I have no clue about any of the events that has happened. I also want to say that it doesn’t really matter if I know it or not. I want to write about something which is not about this case per se, but generally that we have an issue in the tech scenes regarding abuse and misconduct.

The tech scene was for the longest time inhabited by quite a homogenous group of young men who went from doing nerdy stuff in the shadows to becoming one of the most powerful groups in todays society. The more society moved its communication and business’ away from the analog world to the digital one, the more dependent it became on the tech scene. The shift has been quite dramatic and very quick. A lot of things has not been as quick to update, especially the internal culture.

I’ve grown up in the tech scene. As a kid I started out with blackboxing, greyboxing, calling illegally all over the world to hang out on cool bulletin board systems and meet people with the same interests as me. No adults understood much, and most of the other people I met were young people that in general was somewhat outside the normal society. Not saying it was all abnormal people – it was just people that for some reason, being extremely nerdy and really into technical stuff or maybe had few friends, or sometimes the obvious combination. I’ve been into other subcultures as well and most of them have a similar background. Young people will always try and fit in somewhere and find themselves. The difference with the tech scene has been that most of the stuff that went on was done in the dark. It was never really light put on it from the outside which meant that the scene never really had to fix it’s own faults. If there are faults around but noone acknowledges them, most people would stop looking at them as an issue. It’s very human. In fact, if you fix something in your home, and it’s not perfect, you’ll get really annoyed. If you don’t fix it within a few weeks, your mind forgets about it. There’s been lots of studies about this and I think it’s applicable to all things in life. Beggars on the street, faults in your own community. Ignorance is sometimes a way of coping with things, but other times it’s just being ignorant.

The culture of the tech scene has always felt quite inclusive. The premises for being included has been based on your skills, and that’s it. But it was always very similar people around so it was never really a difference of culture with the new people. I remember when I went to a copy party (those things you young kids call LAN-parties now) in Denmark in 1994, there were about 4 girls there. And 4000 guys. Most guys thought it was fun to finally see girls around. I’m pretty sure that most of these guys were nice guys and was just eager to get some attention from the opposite sex – but it’s also quite easy to calculate that 1000 guys per girl means that you’ll get a lot of attention. More than you’d probably want. The inclusive feeling is of course still there, but without the understanding that you can kill people with kindness too. In 2006 I went on a boat with 44 geeks. 40 were men, 4 were women. Even though it improved in numbers over 12 years, it was still 10 to 1. And it was a lot of attention for the women here too.

A lot of us who grew up in the tech scene has gone from being nerdy to being important. Back in the day, when someone in the media wrote about us it was always for something illegal (and according to our community cool) someone had done – some impressive hack while standing up to the man. A lot of the kids did this because they could, few did because they wanted to change things. But sometimes change come from the outside too, and I think the older we all got, the more we understood that we had the power to change and fix a lot of issues in society. If you watch the TV-series Mr.Robot, the feeling of the group F-society is very much the feeling I have gotten from a lot of the groups I’ve been involved in during my life. It’s exciting, it’s to do good, using civil disobedience and mad skillz. You can show off and feel proud and cool. When some guys are out with a moped burning rubber to impress girls, our scene hacked some organised neo-nazi group. Not understanding the politics behind nazism more than “nazi = bad”. But the gut feeling of right and wrong was there for most. Few in the hacking scene would target a group who did something good for the community. The culture was inclusive, do good, showing off is ok (but not doing so was even more impressive).

The shift when media starting writing about us as something else than illegal and nerdy came very sudden though. The various tech communities showed up with a lot of intelligent and impressive people, with an understanding of how the digital era will look. I often think about what would have happened if the woodstock people actually got into power – how would the world look? In the tech scene, this is kind of what happened. Very few people came prepared to deal with that.

As in most subcultures, ours are obsessed with internal status. We have lots of heroes and with that comes hero worship. Most newcomers look up to their heroes way to much, and most heroes feel like nerds that all of a sudden get their 15 minutes of fame. Everyone copes with that differently, many abuse it. The hero culture has always felt very dangerous to me, and it’s been very binary for most people. When Julian Assange got accused of sexual abuse, it was hard for most people in our scene to separate the private actions of Julian and the actions of Wikileaks. I’ve always been a firm believer that things are nuanced. I wanted (and still want) that Julian should be tried for what he’s accused of, but I also believe Wikileaks has been tremendously important to our society and would not discredit Julians work for that happening. The same goes with Jake; if he has done anything wrong he should be tried for that, but it says nothing about his own work nor the Tor project for that matter. Guilt by association is not something we should approve of.

In any case there are multiple sides to an argument. In a fair community we would listen to all, and find a way to deal with it, and take care of all parties. The people that accuse someone of abuse must be listened to whomever they accuse, without judgement, and with support for their experiences. The people accused of abuse must also be listened to whomever they are, without judgement and with an understanding of how people deal with being accused (no matter guilty or not). And we need to understand that these things should be settled by professionals, not be biased friends in a heated situation.

But most importantly, we must create a safe environment for everyone, including the people that have a different background to ourselves. The non-male, non-white, non-hetero are the people we’ve always wanted to include but could never find until we got enough interest. If we want to have them, which we all do and should celebrate that we finally have a chance to include, we need to understand integration; it goes both ways. We can’t expect people to integrate into our way of life without integrating with their ways of lives as well. The diversity is what a community thrives from and what we need to strive for. We were once the outsiders, now we need to welcome the new as well.

The past week people have been saying that they’ve seen the abuse from Jake for a long time. No-one really knew what to do with it. This is our fault as a community. We need to make sure we have some sort of way to talk about these issues if they arise and not just ignore them. If we want to include people we must care about them too. And it’s also educating everyone in what is not ok behaviour. I’ve met quite a few guys in the scene during my life that has been weird to women, not because they’re evil, but because they have no clue on how to behave or what the boundaries are. I’ve seen quite famous people grab other famous peoples butts and none of them knowing how to deal with the situation. Just because people are respected for one thing doesn’t mean they are experienced in all parts of life. Quite a few times I’ve put my foot down, but I’m pretty sure I’ve also made someone uncomfortable sometimes and that I could have done better with some stuff I felt I should have stood up against. We’ve all been young and insecure, so than it’s also important for the older and more secure people to put their feet down and educate. Otherwise we’ll end up in situations like the one we’re in. As a community we need to acknowledge the issues we have and the responsibilities that all lay upon us – all of us.

As for the people being accused, we also need to understand that they could end up being innocent. We need to understand that they could also end up being guilty – but that they still have rights even if so. To a fair trial for instance. It’s important that we keep our heads cool and don’t fuel fires just because we want revenge. We should use that energy to support victims and to do what the tech community does best in other circumstances: rip up the old code and reimplement new code with the new experience you have. Let’s make a community version 2.0 – now for everyone and with exception handlers for the things we miss.

Varför lollar vi åt expertisen?

Att arbeta med frågor kring övervakning och integritet är en uppförsbacke av rang. Under de snart 15 år som jag sysslat med frågorna kring de farhågor som centraliserade databaser, ny teknik och kortsiktigt tänkande leder till, så har de saker vi aktivister varnat för ofta avfärdats av såväl politiker som allmänheten.

Under många år var den stora diskussionen kring vilken övervakning stater hade, speciellt då USA genom sitt numera ökända övervakningsorgan NSA. Många experter inom såväl teknik som politik förstod redan att NSA övervakade men fick inget gehör för sina krav om transparens. När väl Edward Snowden släppte dokumenten som visade på hur illa det stod till – och värre än vad någon faktiskt var medveten om – så var det ändå ingen som tänkte att vi kanske borde lyssnat mer på experterna.

Samma visa var det kring FRA. När debatten rullade på som högst i Sverige och Fredrik Federley stod och grät i riksdagskammaren, så var vi många som försökte förklara att vi i Sverige aldrig haft ett register som inte blivit utsatt för det som kallas ändamålsglidning. Det vill säga, att ett system skapas för en sak, men när man inser hur kraftfullt systemet kan vara för en extra grej så börjar man justera lite och öppna lite för vad ändamålet med registret egentligen är. Och mycket riktigt blev det som förväntat: FRA-butiken öppnades och nästan alla de saker som lovades inte skulle ske, skedde. Men inte heller nu var det någon som tog läxan och oron på allvar. Experterna ignorerades, trots att de hade rätt.

Just nu funderar regeringen på att öppna biobanksdatabasen – populärt kallat PKU-registret, för att låta poliser använda databasen. PKU-registret innehåller DNA för nästan alla födda i Sverige sedan 1975, och används för att forska kring genetiska sjukdomar. Vid första tanke så känns det kanske självklart att den ska få användas – men när godkände du att få ditt DNA insamlat i förväg för att kunna användas som framtida bevis mot dig själv? Och när godkände du att dina barns DNA skulle samlas in för att användas som bevis mot dem själva i framtiden?

Under 2008, i samband med FRA-debatten så startade jag och några aktivistvänner en tjänst vi kallade, där man enkelt kunde skicka in en blankett för att gå ur registret – så länge det var lagligt att göra så. Vi blev kallade för foliehattar, ingen skulle vilja använda detta registret för något annat än forskning. Precis som de sa om experterna kring FRA, NSA och så vidare.

Av någon anledning så lyssnar vi på experter inom medicin, men mindre gällande miljöfrågor, men inte överhuvudtaget inom frågor kring det digitala och register. De sakerna som styr vår vardag och vår samhällsutveckling mest är de frågor vi behöver diskutera mest, samt förstå mest. Varför har samhället en sådan antipati för att lyssna på experter inom dessa områden?

Innan vi låter regeringen besluta kring PKU-frågan så är det dags att besluta hur vi vill att samhället ska se ut. Vad blir följdproblemen med ett samhälle där allas DNA är registrerat? Kommer vi bete oss annorlunda, kommer felaktigt DNA placeras i större utsträckning på brottsplatser av kriminella? Vi kan väl åtminstone ha en diskussion den här gången, där experter lyssnas på istället för hånas.

The new wall

In the early 2000s I left Norway for Sweden. I didn’t like my job, I had a girlfriend who lived in Sweden, but most of all I didn’t like the norwegian mentality. Being part norwegian myself I was always included by my friends and co-workers as a norwegian. Most of my friends are all awesome but some of them, especially the newly rich (and there was a lot of them) made it a thing to crack jokes about people from other etnicities. It usually started out with someone making fun of swedes – calling them the new polacks. A lot of polish people has been coming to Scandinavia to work for much higher salaries than in Poland, but still being cheap labour for scandinavian employers. And when Norway started becoming really rich, a lot of young swedish people started coming over. First for summer jobs, then later for restaurant and pub jobs.

This was a big change for norway, who used to be the poorer of the nations. As a kid, when living in Sweden (yes, I move(d) a lot!), when we went to norway, we brought stuff they didn’t have (Sweden being much more modern) and on the way back we bought cheap stuff to bring back to Sweden. The norwegian krona was worth almost half of the swedish, and we got a lot of moneys worth. I can’t remember a lot of swedish making fun of norwegians for being poor. (However – I’m also part finnish, and a lot of Swedes did make a lot of fun of the Finns, but that’s a story for later).

There’s always been an sibling rivalry between the scandinavian countries. The classic thing is that people care more in the smaller countries than in the big ones. Norway tended to have the mentality of the younger brother who looked up to it’s big sister Sweden and all of a sudden got more successful and wanted to shove it into the face of big sis’. It’s not a very flattering thing to do however. I remember my mother flying in to Norway after a few years living in Spain and norway had introduced a new 200 krona bill (previously there was a 100 and a 500 krona bill only). She asked a taxi driver why they did that and the taxi driver said – more or less jokingly – that it’s because it’s getting too heavy to carry around 100 krona bills for norwegians since they’re all so rich. These jokes were everywhere.

Norway had massive issues of employment. Yes, not umemployment, there was too little people for all the jobs that needed to be done. So meanwhile, in Oslo (capital of Norway) I could basically go to any pub or restaurant and speak swedish with most of the staff. Almost every place had swedish staff, young and energetic, wanting to build up their financial future. Norway is easy to travel to, you have the right to work and live because of the nordic convention. And it was all high paying jobs, some places earnings were more than double of the swedish salary.

The salaries in norway, albeit high, also meant that costs of living is high in Norway. Among highest in the world. So young swedes started living in collective housing. Since Sweden is close by (two hours by car from Oslo and you’re across the border) a lot of swedes went home during weekends. They bought food in Sweden, much cheaper than in Norway. And still to this day, the food you can get in Norway is basically shit compared to the selection in Sweden. In 2001 a norwegian friend of mine took me to a new supermarket and asked me if I’ve ever seen such a good selection of fresh fruit and veggies. He was super impressed. He picked up a fruit and asked me if I’ve ever seen one of these before, proud as hell. And I told him I’ve seen avocados lots of times before. No wonder swedish people, that were in Norway temporary, kept to their own. They formed small “swedish ghettos” of highly educated people, making a lot of money working hard, saving that for their future and their families. And norwegians started making fun of them, comparing them to other working class immigrants.

Being norwegian that has ties to most of the nordic countries in some way, it started getting to me. I was sharing an apartment with a swedish friend of mine myself. We also went to Sweden a lot to shop, because it was half price, we were in Sweden anyhow and the selection was just so much better. Our freezer was full of good food instead of the awful norwegian food. We made dinner at home instead of going out to eat expensive shitty norwegian pizzas. Daniel, my friend I shared the apartment with, was (I hope he still is) an awesome cook. We had people over that loved his food. Some norwegian people that came over kind of joked about us being like swedish ghetto people – “but the good kind”. Maybe because of me being norwegian, or rather: because they actually knew us, they could look past the issue of us not being 100% norwegian (whatever that is).

When I went out to clubs with norwegians a lot of them dropped remarks about the swedish staff. Every time they did, I got a little pissed but didn’t say anything. I felt connected to the swedes, since I lived a lot of my life in Sweden. The swedish society was much more open and thus appealing to me than the close minded norwegian patriotic christian society. I started hanging out more and more with swedish people. They never made jokes about norwegians, except when being upset with norwegians mentality towards swedes. Totally fair reactions as well.

For the few years I was living in Oslo, I felt less norwegian by the minute. I didn’t like what Norway was becoming. I realised I didn’t change, the country did. The racist political party (FrP) was still considered lunatics and somewhat of a joke, but it was changing rapidly. Every day I felt that norway was becoming more and more a nationalist state full of rich people looking down at the working class. Rich people being mostly norwegians, working class being mostly not. It was becoming racist. This was just a few years before Breivik, a member of FrP during early 2000s, committed his terrorist acts.

When I moved to Sweden again I decided I wanted to move to Malmö. Malmö was the total reverse of Oslo in many ways. It was very open and people from almost every country in the world was represented in the city. The was a lot of buzz and creativity, people had fun, they didn’t care where you came from. In Oslo I felt that was the first thing anyone asked. People in Oslo dressed up to impress, bought fast cars for their hard earned money to impress. Newly rich all the way. The first day in Malmö I was smiling because of the people wearing sweat pants and having no make up on. It felt so much more alive, more natural, more international. And Malmö had Öresundsbron – the bridge! – to Copenhagen. Malmö was the perfect mix: a small-ish international city, close to a international big city, lots of things going on, and one of the best international airports in Europe. All being interconnected by the bridge. The jokes between swedes and danes, although similar between the rivalry between norway and sweden, was on a more loving way.

People in Scania (the southern part of Sweden where Scandinavia gets its name from and where Malmö is the capital) normally have lots of ties to Denmark. They’ve much more interconnected and international in that way than most of the Scandinavians. Scania has been a part of Denmark, the dialect resembles the tone of Danish (not always in a good way, danish being a weird language). But it’s all full of love.

The things that I took for granted growing up in Sweden as a kid, was that openess. The feeling of an “us”, without any excluding “them”. Everyone is part of the “us”. Pride in helping thy next, without being religious about it. The pride in doing good in society, rather than bragging about it and the money you make. The pride in being strong enough to tell the big bullies that they are in fact bullies. The understanding that ideals are more important than future trade. That people are more important than money. All of these things, are the things I’ve always loved about Sweden. It was the things I missed in Norway.

Just a few years after I left Norway, Breivik committed his extreme right wing terrorist attacks. And just two years after that, his racist party was elected into government for the first time ever. There’s been a shift. At the same time, the attitude in Norway is that people from outside (especially Sweden) doesn’t understand the norwegian situation. Many of my norwegian friends are afraid to use the word “racist” to describe a party that is exactly that. It’s not politically correct apparantly. And in Norway it’s very common to bash Sweden for being “fucking PC”, and say that you can’t talk about whatever you want, that immigration is a problem and so on. The norwegian press is self-censoring more and more about their wordings, because Norway is such an open country where you can talk about everything, as long as you don’t call racists racists and as long as you’re critical of immigration.

This norwegian trend is what I’m feeling happening all over again. Sweden has been going the exact same way. The unthinkability of the racist swedish party – The swedish “democrats” (SD) – being part of the government is not as unthinkable anymore. The right wing, who previously declared that they would never rule jointly with SD has opened up cooperations in some cities and regions more or less openly. It’s becoming common to almost brag about voting for SD since it’s a sign of not being “fucking PC”. And SD is now polling as the biggest party among men.

On top of that, today the swedish government just built a wall. To stop immigration. Or well, they made the danish people do it. If you need to enter Sweden you need to show an ID card. In order to get immigration down. People being asked in the media what they think about the wall and ID checks are now really upset – because it will prolong their commute back and forth to denmark. Less trains will leave, they will be shorter. Everything designed to keep some people out. Anyone can see where this is heading.

I’m fed up of it all. There’s no political ideologies being discussed. There’s no talk of inclusion. There talk about how to fix the situation is about the wrong situation. How do we stop the war to make sure there’s no refugees? That topic has not been discussed for as long as I can remember in the general press in Scandinavia. And to add insult to all of that, Scandinavian countries are among the top weapons and ammunition manufactorers in the world. They just want to profit from war, but not take the cost of peoples horrors.

I’m fed up with the view that people are “fucking PC”. Being politically correct is something that I value – it simply means that you’re showing respect when talking. A persons gender or heritage is not important to the ideological discussion you’re having. So what the fuck is wrong with being PC? The trend is to be more obnoxious, to be more egotistical. There’s an ideology winning here, that’s not even being described as one. We used to call it fascism, but today we just censor it because we’re so open and not fucking PC. So we can’t call facists fascists anymore.

Today is a day of shame. Today is the day where the most beautiful things I loved about Sweden was taken away from me. The possibility of turning the other way around and going towards an open, inclusive, loving, caring society looks bleek, at best. Today is a day where I hoped people would wake up and start protesting. Last time I crossed the border between Denmark and Sweden I refused to show my ID card. Not because I have something to hide, but because I wanted to show solidarity towards the people that can’t. The police treated me as shit. The people around me was upset that I stopped the line so they could get home for pop idol in time.

But a few people managed to get passed the police, who would not have done that otherwise. The small things do count, but there not a lot of people that do even the smallest of things anymore. We’re becoming a shameful society, living of our old reputation of being an open and beautiful society that is no longer true. We’re perceiving ourselves as we used while closing our eyes to what we are now, and closing to what we are becoming. It starts with the small jokes and attitude changes, it ends up with facism in the government. Sorry for being so fucking PC but: Fuck Scandinavia.

Brasil, WhatsApp, Unfree network

In Brazil, WhatsApp has been temporarily closed for usage. It has been blocked by a court order, because it seems it’s competing with the telephone companies ability of making money from phone calls. That Skype and lots of other systems has been doing the same for years all over the world seems to never have been an issue.

Right now the political climate in Brazil is very heated. There’s an impeachment of the president and the congress is the most conservative it’s been for a very long time. As in most countries in latin america, they progress is away from the left (such as in Argentina).

That WhatsApp is closed down, when used by so many millions of people to organise and assemble, is probably about more than just the competition to the phone operators. If they were really scared of WhatsApp, I highly doubt they would have started selling phone packages that included free WhatsApp traffic – a very common thing in latin america. I’ve been upset that they’re been violating net neutrality and handing WhatsApp unfair competitive advantages, because few would choose apps like Telegram or Signal over WhatsApp when they would cost money to use compared to WhatsApp.

We might get to know in the future what the move about WhatsApp is really grounded in. But one thing is for certain and that is that we have a very unfree internet. When a country can suddenly close down one service like that, it’s hard to navigate around.

But to add pain to the suffering, WhatsApp has decided to not allow links to Telegram within their system. During the switch yesterday, where millions of brasilians rallied to find alternatives to WhatsApp, they could not send eachother links to the second most popular alternative. Another sign of the fact that the internet is centralised to a few select places.

We’re all building our infrastructure and put our trust in these systems. When you need to be able to protest in your country, it’s a bit too late to do it on a platform that works with the government. Or when you need to protest on the platform, it’s a bit too late to do it when it’s the one the government works with.

The single most dangerous thing about our new world is the centralisation. No matter how good and friendly the people are in the companies, they are still centralised services. They will be targets. That’s why I’m stating the obvious – that we do not have an open and free internet anymore. On so many levels we’ve centralised it all. From the ownership of the fibercables to the centralised services we used on top of them. Instead of having millions of “targets” that someone needs to close down in order to not have words spread, it’s enough for a government to contact 4-5 companies and they would have total control of our network. No matter that the underlying design is open, free, documented. No matter that you – technically – could start your own services. The free internet that exists is an island somewhere in the arctic. Noone wants to live there because it’s cold and has no inhabitants. No matter how free.

Put yourself on fire

(NB: I never edit my texts. I put in a dot at the end of a sentence and after that it stays that way. I never rearrange my texts. I never fix splelling erorrs. The point of my writing is to get things out of my mind, not for you to read them. If you don’t like that style, don’t read this text.)

Open letter to, well, everyone? (That’s kind of the idea of open letters?)

The past week an interview with me has made people quite upset. Most seem to only have read the headline that is very ambigous and somewhat misleading about me “giving up”. The point I wanted to make — and I think a lot of people has got that point — is that the state of our interconnected network is a reflection of our unwired world, and hence, it’s useless to look at those two as separate entities. And the state of our unwired world is so fucked up, we need a systematic change. A lot of people, me included, has been trying to fix the system. But we’re fixing the system from within, when the whole system is the problem in itself. And to quote the brainy dude with the hairy hair, Albert Einstein:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

For me it’s getting more and more obvious that we’ve been fighting a meaningless fight. Sure, a lot of things has been slowed down, even temporarily stopped. But look at the end results? What happened with the arab spring? And we still have more surveillance than ever even though Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning has opened our eyes (to what we basically suspected anyhow, but were called conspiracy theorists for saying). But when you’re playing with other peoples rules you don’t have the mandate to change their rules. That’s why I think we need to go beyond that. We can’t do insanity. We shouldn’t waste our time on insanity, however fun it is to be an activist and get attention for good causes. We need to find a cure for the core issue, not lots of cures to all the symptoms arising.

A lot of people has been upset with me telling my view of the world. Even though, as brought up in a Scandinavian culture, I don’t like being looked up to, I do realise that I have some influence. But the people that actually like me, and not the idea of me, should be glad that I’m standing true to what is the essence of me: to try and change things, not just trying to say what is more popular. People that usually talk about freedom of speech tells me I should sit quiet in the sinking boat. Sorry, but that won’t happen.

I’m in here for the endgoal, where the world is equal to everybody, where information is free because it needs to be. Where gender, race, sexuality, origin, money and heritage play no role in who you are. A world where you chose your personality without prejudice, a world where we treat eachother well. A world where power is saught after for embettering the people, not the people with power. A world where taxes is not to be avoided, but to be proudly paid in order to help your next ones. A world where we don’t say our jeans are too expensive when we at the same time poison people in the third world to make them cheaper. In short: a world of empathy, not psychopathy. We won’t achieve that by stroking eachothers egos and pretending it’s all good.

If you have cancer, is it better that the doctor tells you that you have 6 months left to live or tells you to take it easy because nothing is wrong? If you want to achieve change, do you not need to see what needs to be changed? Or do you want to live in denial so that the people that want to opposite of you get a homerun when your back is turned? Meanwhile you read this sentence, a woman probably died of cancer while a man might have survived. It’s because while we were thinking all is good, the gender inbalance got bigger.

While you read this, the world got a bit hotter. The impact on environment this unhealthy world makes is part of the system. And the heat on our surveillance went up – we’re being treated more and more like criminals. While you read this, someones human rights was violated in a prison. In a Swedish prison. Because when we think that those prisons must be like a vacation, noone actually looked into how fucked up it is. Trust me, it is fucked up, I have first hand experience. And that begger you passed recently, did you avoid eye contact with her? Of course you did. Because it’s easier to ignore than to fix.

But turning a blind eye to things and people is the same thing as not being in solidarity. If your eyes are closed you won’t see the errors of our society. If your eyes are open, you will see them, and also the beauty to make it worth fighting for. But more and more people are closing their eyes. And our beloved internet is helping us. We’re getting news that are tailored to our interests – and who’s interested in seeing pain and suffering? We’re getting tailored music – so we don’t have to listen to new music. We’re not expanding our horisons as we used to. We’re looking inward. When we look out, we see that we fit in. Because we’re tailored to our relationships as well. We’re building small isolated worlds, separating ourselves from society. We put headphones on and walk among other people. We could just as easily be zombies, noone would care. When someone falls over, we step around them — why? Because we don’t want to impose. They’ll manage.

We’re sending drones to war. It’s because killing our own is not good PR. It’s big news when someone shoots down a drone – we’re upset with the terrorists that did that. We know the ID number of the drone, there’s descriptions about it in the newspaper. But where’s the name of the faceless 100+ people it might have killed? Where’s their obituaries? People from the wrong countries are less worth than a piece of technology. A piece of technology that will be a christmas present for kids this year. In 10 years time, they’ll be so good at playing with their drones that they will do it for a living. In the military. The targets are people. People they’ll never meet. They’ll never go to the funerals, they’ll go home and drink their beer, fuck their wife, and complain about the mortgage. And then they’ll vote for Trump again, since they’re scared of being replaced with a robot.

But at least they can get to vote. Killed people have no say. And if you’re from the wrong country – i.e. not the united states of america; you have no say in who runs the world. Democracy? Nah. Meritocracy? Nah. The american dream? Yes. It’s all a big dream. Even the dream of the american dream. But it’s better to have something to believe in than nothing at all.

Last week I was in Rio de Janeiro, and by chance ended up on a panel with the awesome Lawrence Lessig. I had no clue I was supposed to be on a panel. Pretty sure it was not planned, brasilian style. We ended up disagreeing. Lessig called me a privileged white man [sic] since I said I wish Donald Trump would win their election — my reasoning was ignored. That I rather pull the bandaid off quickly – and albeit lose some hair, then to hurt longer when I lose the same when pulling it off slowly, is the reason. Just a lot of activists all over the world, Lessig is hard working and incredibly intelligent. But still, we’re not winning this fight, in the way we’re doing it. Doesn’t matter how inspiring your talk is or how right you are. End results matter here.

With Palin or Trump in power in the USA, the world would maybe finally understand that we can’t have one super power that goes amok. I’m not against the USA which a lot of people believe. I’m against a corrupt system that feeds itself with power of things. We’ve concentrated things to that country, for historical reasons. But noone is able to stop it anymore. They can buy the companies that are started outside with all the money they have. Or the money they think they have, having the biggest debt in the world and still being able to call themselves the richest in the world. I’m against beeing foolish. I don’t think it’s wise to put all your eggs in one basket.

As a technologist, I know that we need redundancy, backups and having enough distributed capacity. If one thing breaks, we need another to take it’s place. If it fails anyhow, we need a plan b. And to avoid these things happening at the worst time, we need to have over capacity. Otherwise the system fails. But well, here we are. We have one planet, but treating it as it’s redundant. We have one system taking the other systems out. We have one population, fighting within because of shades of their skin. We have capacity but it’s not distributed. We centralised it all. The food, the money, the power, the decisions. And most of all, we have no plan b, so we can’t try new things or roll back to an old backup.

Some people have called me an accelerationist. But labels are only there to help people to easily package your words into a ready made drawer, instead of listening to them. I’ve gotten the realisation that the only way forward is fast. Faster than the current pace. A fire that is allowed to burn slowly will cause more damage than one that burns so quickly that oxygen runs out around it. So when there’s nothing left to burn, you have to put yourself on fire. Burn your views, throw away the ashes. See if you come up with the same world view when you start with a fresh look. Zoom out, look for yourself.

Lovingly, I always say that I never want people to think like me, I just want them to think. And if they then don’t think like me, they’re wrong. But prove me wrong. You can’t. No, the world is not coming to an end, but our freedoms are being stripped away, slowly, replaced by a new word which is also freedom. The freedom to be monitored for our freedom. The freedom of being a slave to the bank for your freedom to take care of the banks property. Let’s not replace freedom with “freedom”. Let’s replace the broken system with a new one, even if it’s going to hurt for a while. Maybe earth needs just one thing to heat it up, us burning the system down.

Transmediale talk 2015

Better late then never: here’s my talk in text from Transmediale 2015 where I spoke at the opening event.

There’s a few big moments in life where you feel that something moves you deeply.
Graduating school. Getting your first kiss. Writing that first book, publishing that first scientific document.
A loved one dies. Getting your first customer in your café. Some of them might seem small and trivial to others but to you they are huge and life altering.

Recently I got a similar feeling. A feeling that we reached a certain critical mass. A critical mass that are upset with the current state of the internet, nay, the current state of policing the internet and what it promises the world.
A critical mass that finally understands that we’re on the way to a broadcast democracy with little peer involvement.

What happened? The Pirate Bay was shut down. It tilted people’s brains into knowing that tomorrow, their favorite TV show must be downloaded somewhere else.
They thought about it a bit more and decided this is the beginning of a slippery slope.
They understand that maybe this means that alternative content might be hard to ever reach, if at all.
That this thing, that we’re centralising the internet, having just a handful of centralised services, mostly owned by companies in one single country, a country that doesn’t care about borders when it comes to their own gauntlets, is not a great idea.
A movement is forming. A movement away from this. And tomorrow, when you wake up, it will climax into a whole bunch, maybe even a whole million of people, that will see the group “Stop destroying the internet” or “Give us our pirate bay back” on Facebook.
And they will click the Like button and feel proud. They finally did it. They stopped the internet from being destroyed.

But of course this will not change anything. The internet will keep getting destroyed, it will keep becoming more and more centralised.
We can’t do anything anymore. We tried. We sucked at it. The few people that really did anything are now old, some are dead.
The young ones believe in the system and try to change it from with-in.
It’s like trying to beat capitalism by trying to capture all the money yourself.

Every now and then we win a fight against one of the oppressive new measures, like ACTA, SOPA, PIPA.
We congratulate ourselves and feel important. In essence, we just lost the ten other battles we didn’t have time to fight. Or knew existed.

We have our own celebrities. We had Wikileaks. We had Snowden. We had Manning. We had Aaron Swartz. Some are dead, some are in jail forever.
Some are in hiding —  scared for their actual lives. What people reveal, what people fight for, are major causes.
Freedom of information. Liberty. Democracy. Governmental transparency and due process. Things we take for granted, that are the basis for a modern safe society.
We talk about it a lot. We are upset. We cry, we scream. We sometimes protest. We have our T-shirts. We have our symbols. We have our masks, our conferences, our transmediale. Our debates. We get some attention.
People in general like us. Our opponents are old fat bastard whore corporate sell-outs. They’re mostly rich men from the United States of America. They’re corrupt. They’re easy to hate. It’s all like a good old Hollywood movie.

But we’ve all been fooled. We lost. There is no need in fighting anymore. We lost a long time ago, we cornered ourselves. There’s no use to struggle. There’s no point in being positive. The only positive thing about it is that we no longer have to worry. It’s all pre-determined, it’s all a waste. There’s no more any “we” or “us”. We’re becoming drones, mind or without, it does not matter.

We built the system. We trusted it because we trusted ourselves. We’re all drones now. Maybe we’ve always been drones.

You might know that I was recently locked up. I was kidnapped by the kingdom of Sweden, for trying to resist. I did right, both legally and morally. The kingdom was wrong. We all knew it, but I was a fool to think that right and wrong had anything to do with it. Morals are no more. They’ve been replaced by control. Right is just a word that no longer has any meaning. It’s a trick to keep people from being scared. Until you reach the edge you believe in the system. Even though people know in their back of their minds that they don’t want to look over the edge.

We all praise the internet for the liberty it brings but it’s become the essence of what’s wrong. We praise the technology almost like a saviour but it’s the thing that keeps us in check. We show the examples of the good things we’ve achieved with technology, with the internet, with leaking, with sharing.
But it does not hold it’s merits. There’s no long-term effect. Globalization by virtue of capitalism won.

We talk about robots and technology taking our jobs. As if jobs has a higher goal in themselves beside what needs to be done. But when building these computerized and automatic systems we created new jobs. All the new technology based jobs in the western world feel so free, it’s almost like you’re never at work. We even have our offices at home.
We’re always connected. We happy we get to work with our friends. We don’t see that we’ve become robots that work all the time, only associate with other co-workers and that we have no free time anymore.
We don’t need robots, we are the robots. We’re no longer in between jobs, we’re in between our old and new startups.

We talk about startups and entrepreneurship as the future. As if they are something new.
We out-manouvered ourselves into believing that alone means strong.
Who ever heard about a startup going on strike against their customers over bad work conditions?
We’re fucking up all the work done by the unions for the past century.
For the promise of self-fulfilment, sour-dough bread, cool bicycles and a cheap apartment in Kreuzberg with second-hand IKEA furniture.
The same furniture I recently discovered first-hand is made by forced labourers in swedish and german prisons.

There’s no point in fighting. Whatever you think you can contribute it’s wrong. Life is not pointless but trying to alter the content and path of life is futile. We’re all privileged and lazy. We never talk about revolutions anymore, except when creating a new hipster fixed-bicycle wheel that will “change the world”, a term which today is slang for getting fifteen minutes of fame for your product – not you.
And no, you’re not the product as everyone has been saying about the internet. You’re not that interesting. You’re just the wallet.

Call it activism, call it work, call it art, call it whatever you want. I’ve tried. My friends tried. You all tried. But capitalism won. It’s game over.
We’re too lazy, we’re too tired. We’re too content. We just want our nespresso machines and we don’t want any responsibility.
We blame our politicians even though we elect them. The politicians have no say anyhow. It’s not about the money, it’s about the control.

It’s not that we’re blind. In the matrix Neo get’s to decide – does he want to live in blissful ignorance or does he want to see the real world?
When he decides to leave the matrix he wakes up and realizes he is just one of many humans that are being kept as resources.
It wakes him up so hard that he can’t ignore fighting the matrix.
But in our world we see the issues daily. We see the beggars, we see the gender inequality. We see the rain forest being wrecked, the oil heating the planet, whales being slaughtered.
We see our human rights being violated, we see the loss of privacy, we know we’re monitored by cameras and microphones everywhere. We even carry them around ourselves to help our opponents.
The leaks from manning and snowden has not changed one single thing of essence.
We’re not blind, we’re totally full-sighted and awake.
It’s very telling that for some reason there’s even career opportunities in being a manager of human resources. We can’t wake up from being awake.

This years Transmediale is named “capture all”. For me that phrase might refer to something else than it does for you.
But my view is that a few is trying to capture all. They’re capturing all the control, all the money, all the information, all the politicians, all the power. We’re not even trying to stop it, we’re helping them do it. On second thought, they’re not trying to capture it. They already captured all.

The only way to win the game is not to play. But if we have to play, it’s time we set the rules. And re-capture all.

TPB mer etiskt

För några dagar sedan hade den statliga svenska myndigheten Svenska Institutet (SI) ett föredrag i Istanbul, Turkiet. I föredraget lyfts olika svenska organisationer fram som demokratiserat världen på olika sätt. Kända svenska företag som IKEA, H&M, Volvo nämns. Men även en mer kontroversiell “organisation”, The Pirate Bay (TPB).

När det blev känt att svenska staten använder TPB som ett exempel på något demokratiserande blev självklart TPB:s motståndare rasande. I närmast matadorliknande frustration väste Henrik Pontén, lobbyist för de stora amerikanska hollywoodbolagen, fram sin syn på TPB. Han sa att TPB är ett “kriminellt nätverk” och inte ska få jämföras med laglydiga företag som bra exempel på demokratiserande verkan.

I transparensens namn ska jag kanske här tillägga att jag själv är medgrundare till TPB och har ett visst egenintresse i saken. Och visst tycker jag det är lite smickrande och småironiskt att svenska staten gärna nyttjar den goodwill som TPB har gett Sverige, speciellt gällande de unga generationerna, samtidigt som staten sett till att fängsla oss som varit involverade. Man får ha kakan kvar men äta den samtidigt.

Den artikel som TT valt att skriva innehåller inga citat från någon från TPB. Detta i sig är en ganska märklig journalistisk vinkel, att låta en lobbyist få prata om “kriminella nätverk” men inte låta motsidan få dementera (eller bekräfta) påståenden. SI fick prata och berätta att de inte lägger någon värdering i om det är bra eller dåligt, det som exemplen har åstadkommit. Det är nog en vettig inställning, speciellt då det är mycket smutsigt som sker.

Runt H&M har det exempelvis varit många skandaler gällande barnarbete, farliga kemikalier som gjort människor sjuka i produktionsleden, miljöförstörande tyger, dun som plockats från levande gäss, angorakaniner som plågats för sin ull, skatteplanering mm. Gällande IKEA är listan ungefär likadan, fast med ännu mer skatteplanerande, avverkande av unika urskogar, lite mer skatteplanerande och sen lite mer avverkande av unika urskogar. Volvo har anklagats för kartellbildningar, skattefiffel med fermenta mm.

Sammantaget verkar det som det inte är så speciellt bra företag som sverige väljer att lyfta fram ur demokratisynpunkt. Tur är det väl då att något positivt, TPB, finns där som Sverige kan väga upp med. En tjänst som gjort det möjligt för alla, världen över, att dela information ocensurerat. Som inkluderar alla, oavsett klasstillhörighet, ras, ålder eller kön. En tjänst som gjort mer än de andra företagen ihop för att förbättra yttrandefrihet och informationstillgängligheten än de andra företagen gjort ihop. Allt utan att få så mycket som ett tack för det från staten, utan tvärtom.

Ändå är jag glad att TPB används av staten som ett positivt exempel. I Turkiet speciellt, där det yttrandefriheten är starkt begränsad. TPB var en av mycket få instanser som gjorde det möjligt att sprida filmer på demonstrationer och annan samhällsviktig information i Turkiet. Tills något hände, upphovsrättsbolagen klarade att få TPB censurerat i Turkiets internet. En direkt demokratifientlig handling ur rent egoistiska värderingar.

Så ja, jag kan hålla med om att TPB inte ska jämföras med Ikea, H&M och andra oetiska företag. För TPB står med piratflaggan högt i topp. När det gäller demokratisering så är TPB sveriges mest framgångsrika export i modern historia.

Update on

A while back we started thinking about what to do with the issues that the Snowden leaks revealed to the world. My friends, Linus and Leif, are two of the best people I know. We all have our hearts in the right place and we all have skills and ideas that can be put into good use.

We decided to put our minds and skills together and try to make an encrypted messaging app. We thought about the issues, the things noone seemed to be trying to solve. The tech community had solutions – but only focused on the people who understood the problems. The non-tech communities didn’t care. A messenger that catered to the common users but still understood the political issues was a thing we all felt was missing. We started a crowd-funding campaign, both to see if there was an interest but also to raise enough money to actually get time to do this. We were thinking we might get about 50.000 USD in a few months. In about 48 hours we had three times that money, and we decided that we needed to stop asking for money, it was more than we knew what to do with.

So we had about 130.000 USD after all fees was paid. And then we lost some more (like 30.000USD) because of a bitcoin wallet that got stolen from our bitcoin supplier. But still, a lot of money. We decided to hire some people to help us out with the things we are not experts in. The process was slow and hit with lots of realizations of that certain things would not work. The ideas were too complex and sometimes just too expensive. We had a lot of money, but far away the same amount (we’re talking millions or billions) that our competitors had access to. Just think – verification by SMS for all of the potential users would be millions of dollars even at a few cents per SMS. And if we didn’t verify by SMS it would be hard to invite users and bootstrap the usage. It’s a lot of these things that we didn’t understand until quite far in to the process.

In the middle of it all one of our team members got a kid and had to focus on that of course. I personally had other issues as I got kidnapped by the swedish government and locked up for my work with another project – The Pirate Bay. In the middle of the kidnapping, my father died. I had no way of working on anything, and I’ve had a hard time with how I personally need to handle things. This project – as well as the other projects I’m involved in – was hit massively by my absence. And they still are, since I have not been able to get 100% on my feet yet. I’m getting there but just as with other things, it takes a lot of time.

So, we had been working on this project for a long time with all of the set backs we had. And a few weeks back we started talking. What are our results? We have spent the money (and if we paid for all the work and time that we and other people put in it would have been many times more). We have a decent app for IOS and Android. But it’s still not finished and there are other things that are not software related that’s missing and will take lots of more time. And would require much more money both for time but also for legal, hardware, structures etc.

But the bad thing – or rather good if one tries to stay positive – is that our competitors have been good at fixing issues. And we have lots of new ones. They’ve had more progress and financial support so they could speed up their process to the level that they’re now really good. Better than our messaging app could become right now. Ok, they’re missing on features but they have the ability and cash to resolve those issues. And our goal was always to ensure that the everyday users would be protected. Signal and other apps are doing that quite well, with good UI and UX compared to what was the case when we started.

We decided that we could go two ways. We could ask for more money (a lot), either from the community or some investors. Or we could close down. Since we already got money from the community with way too little to show back from the expectations that felt wrong. And we don’t think that it would be a good idea to ask investors for money since we’d lose control over the project. So in the end, closing it down felt like the least bad thing to do.

I know a lot of people will be upset. But timing is key, and there’s no point in spending more time just because we feel we dropped the ball. Life gave us curveballs and we were probably way too naive in entering this project. I don’t regret it though, but right now it’s stressing me (and the other guys) quite a bit, because we really don’t want to disappoint the community. But then again, we also wouldn’t really contribute. And we still lack funds if we decide to go ahead. So it’s a catch 22. We tried looking for someone to merge our project with, but didn’t really find anyone. And we’re not sure what to do with the things we’ve created – part of it might be useful for someone, other things (that took a lot of time to create) are things we realized would not work in larger scales.

So I’m sorry that we’re closing down, but it’s the only reasonable thing to do. Sometimes it’s better to just take the bull by the horns than to try to ignore it. And move on to the next thing and try to fix that. I’m personally trying to influence people and politicians to make sure we don’t need systems like We should be protected by the governments instead of trying to protect ourselves from them. It’s a multi-angle attack needed, technology, political work and transparency.

2005 calling

Det känns som 2005 igen. Nyheten om att fildelare krävts på miljontals kronor dök upp i mitt flöde och jag trodde på riktigt det var en gammal nyhet.

Något annat som kändes som 2005 var att antipiraterna fick ställa sig och basunera ut “fakta” hur som helst till ett trött media som inte direkt ställde motfrågor. TT citerar visserligen bara men samtidigt så ställer de inga uppföljningsfrågor. Precis så som det var när vi startade Piratbyrån just för att vi tröttnat på att media inte riktigt gjorde sitt jobb.

För såhär är det. Antipiraterna hyllar rättegången mot mig och några andra, den så kallade The Pirate Bay-rättegången, som en framgång. Att de närmaste mutade och hotade sig till domen är de rätt tysta med. Minns ni? SVT avslöjade att USA hade utövat påtryckningar och hot om handelssanktioner mot Sverige. Veckorna efter att åklagaren säger att The Pirate Bay (TPB) inte begår några brott så begär samma åklagare ett gigantiskt tillslag mot TPB. Sedan följde följande rättsskandal: polismannen som gjorde utredningen råkade även jobba åt Warner Brothers (dåvarande justitieminister Beatrice Ask tyckte det var lysande att svensk polis var duktig nog att få jobb åt stora viktiga amerikanska företag), domaren i rättegången satt även i styrelsen för en intresseförening FÖR upphovsrätt (där bolagen som anmält TPB var stora bidragsgivare), nämndemän som hade skivbolag. Fällande dom. Överklagan till hovrätten – samma veva om igen! Två domare som satt i styrelser för upphovsrättsföreningar (där anmälande bolagen är bidragsgivare), nämndemän med färdiga intressen (minns ni han som jobbade åt Spotify, som ser på TPB som en konkurrent?) och så vidare. Och sen HD som vägrade ta upp fallet och vägrade berätta varför. Trots att EU-domstolen har gett vägledande dom som friat i exakt likadant fall.

Phew. Det är mycket att komprimera ner. Nu står upphovsrättsbolagen där igen. Kämpar för “artisternas bästa”. Mot dessa skurkar som tjänar pengar på att dela kultur gratis (vet inte hur pengarna kom med i bilden, men så säger de ju). De pengarna de vinner är ofta 10 miljoner kronor som skall betalas av en 20-årig kille. I ett konsumenteristiskt kapitalistiskt samhälle, exempelvis det vi lever i, så är det så nära ett livstidsstraff man kan komma. Vinsterna de får har de aldrig, i något land, delat med sig av till någon artist. När upphovsrättsbolagen vann mot exempelvis Napster och Kazaa fick de in hundratals miljoner. Noll kronor gick till artisterna de säger sig skydda. Pengarna går till att stödja rika advokater.

Nej, istället sitter advokatbyråerna där och gottar sig. De tar pengar från barn och unga för att skydda någon de inte någonsin gynnat. De säger att domen mot TPB blev en brytpunkt i debatten – vilken debatt menar de? Den om att sveriges rättsväsende kanske är ett öppet mål för korruption, knappt utan lagar för att anställa poliser eller advokater? Den om att den med mest pengar vinner i dagens sverige? Eller den om fildelning? Eh. Vem pratar om fildelning år 2015? Ska vi börja prata om vi är för eller emot frysboxarna nu också, isbitsindustrin kanske vill förbjuda dem.

Det vi borde prata om är hur vi fixar så dessa parasiter på samhället – upphovsrättsindustrin, advokater som säger sig agera åt stackars artister etc – kan få lov att fortsätta med detta. Varför sätter vi inte ner foten? Och varför, i herre jösse namn, låter vi någon gå med på TTIP-avtalet som ger dessa parasiter än mer makt och inflytande i samhället. Har vi inte lärt oss något?

The Pirate Bay down, forever?

News just reached me that The Pirate Bay has been raided, again. That happened over 8 years ago last time. That time, a lot of people went out to protest and rally in the streets. Today few seem to care. And I’m one of them.

Why, you might ask? Well. For multiple reasons. But most of all, I’ve not been a fan of what TPB has become.

TPB has become an institution that people just expected to be there. Noone willing to take the technology further. The site was ugly, full of bugs, old code and old design. It never changed except for one thing – the ads. More and more ads was filling the site, and somehow when it felt unimaginable to make these ads more distasteful they somehow ended up even worse.

The original deal with TPB was to close it down on it’s tenth birthday. Instead, on that birthday, there was a party in it’s “honour” in Stockholm. It was sponsored by some sexist company that sent young girls, dressed in almost no clothes, to hand out freebies to potential customers. There was a ticket price to get in, automatically excluding people with no money. The party had a set line-up with artists, scenes and so on, instead of just asking the people coming to bring the content. Everything went against the ideals that I worked for during my time as part of TPB.
The Pirate Bay 10 year anniversary, fy fan

The past years there was no soul left in TPB. The original team handed it over to, well, less soul-ish people to say the least. From the outside I felt that noone had any interest in helping the community if it didn’t eventually pay out in cash. The attention for new artists (the promo bay) felt more like something TPB had to do in order to keep it’s street cred. The street cred I personally tried to destroy when being part of TPB, multiple times, in order to make sure that people stopped idolizing TPB the way they did. Mostly it didn’t work though.

As a big fan of the KLF I once learned that it’s great to burn great things up. At least then you can quit while you’re on top. I think I left TPB just a little bit after that top, and not when it’s as shitty as it was when it was closed today. It feels good that it might have closed down forever, just a real shame the way it did that. A planned retirement would have given the community time and a way to kick off something new, something better, something faster, something more reliable and with no chance of corrupting itself. Something that had a soul and could retain it.

But from the immense void that will now fill up the fiber cables all over the world, I’m pretty sure the next thing will pan out. And hopefully it has no ads for porn or viagra. There’s already other services for that.