Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heather Brooke: "Inside the Secret World of Hackers" @ The Guardian, U.K.

... If Anonymous and Lulzsec are the id of hacking, then physical hackerspaces are the heart of the higher-minded hacking ideals: freedom of information, meritocracy of ideas, a joy of learning and anti-authoritarianism. The CCC is Europe's largest hacker organisation and also one of the oldest worldwide, having been set up in 1981 by Wau Holland and others who predicted the rising importance digital technology would have in people's lives. CCC's hackers are often older and run their own businesses. They hold conferences and even consult with the German government. The CCC is famous for exposing the security flaws of major technologies, from chip and PIN to smartphones. Want to know how to listen in on GSM mobile phone traffic? Here's the place to learn (within legal constraints, of course). Among some of their more noteworthy "hacks" is pulling the fingerprints of the German interior minister from a water glass and putting them on a transparent film that could be used to fool fingerprint readers. The Club also worked with activists for voting transparency to expose flaws in computerised voting machines. These were later ruled unconstitutional in Germany and abolished in Holland.

The CCC isn't just about technical hacking, it is a hub of political activism based around a few common goals: transparency of governments, privacy for private people and the removal of excessive restrictions on sharing information. Many of these hacks are demonstrated at the annual conference at the Berlin Congress Centre, and it was here that Julian Assange presented WikiLeaks to an enthusiastic crowd in 2008. ...

[Read the rest of Heather Brooke's thoughtful article at The Guardian.]

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