"the freedom of all is essential to my freedom"

human and animal liberation

Posts Tagged ‘hacktivism

Online safety: a few tips

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Well, the thing is you don’t need to be a geek to be pretty safe. Of course there’s no such thing like 100% online safety but there are a few things we can do to improve it. And if you happen to be an activist you should consider it really seriously. Especially with all those PIPA, SOPA and ACTA laws they are trying to put in place.

So here we go:

1. Ubuntuif you’re a Windows user I’d recommend to check out Ubuntu. Linux is much safer and stable than Windows. The great thing about linux is that it’s open source and you get updates very often. It means if there’s a bug it’ll get fixed pretty soon.You also get thousands of free applications and if you need to use some Windows-only apps you can use Wine to mount them. By the way, believe it or not with Ubuntu you don’t need to be worry about viruses. It’ll make you forget what a virus is. It’s also user friendly and fast so you don’t need to know all those fancy terminal commands to use it.

2. VPNVPN means Virtual Private Network and it’s pretty straight forward. You’ll exchange the IP-number you get from your ISP to an anonymous IP-number .You get a safe/encrypted connection between your computer and the Internet. Your existing ISP can not limit what you can do nor limit what information you can access. It’s a really cool thing! I use iPredator which is pretty stable but there also other ones. Riseup collective set up a VPN recently but I didn;t have a chance to test it. Alternatively you can use Tor

3. GPG for emails – if you’re sending/receiving some private data why not to encrypt it? Normally people use corporate emails like Gmail or Hotmail. They look grand but they’re free and terms&conditions are not really in favor of users. So if you want to exchange some sensitive information use GPG. The easiest way to use it is to install enigmail plugin to Thunderbird client. Than create public & private keys. Check details in documentation. Also if you’re an activist it’s a great idea to set up a Riseup mail account rather than use corporate stuff. They don’t log IP and encrypt all the data.

4. Chatting – Facebook’s or Gmail chats are nice but not when you exchange important info. It all stays on their servers so it’s way safer to use different communicators. IRC and Jabber are great alternatives. With IRC you’ve got dozens of servers (e.g. irc.indymedia.org) where you can find a number of channels. For example if you have a problem with your Ubuntu you go to irc.freenode.org and join #ubuntu channel and ask for help. Or if you’re a revolutionary vegan fella you can set up your own channel, make it private & invite only and plan revolution with your trusted folks. IRC is great for groups to run real-time discussions online. As for Jabber it’s more like ICQ. You have a contact list and you talk to you friends when they’re online. The good thing is with these communcators you can use OTR (Off-The-Record) plugin which encrypts your chat.

5. Firefox plugins – if you’re using Firefox get these plugins. They’ll improve your anonymity and safety. Also I’d recommend Google plugin that will prevent Google from collecting information about you.

6. Crabgrassa software libre web application designed for group and network organizing, and tailored to the needs of the global justice movement. The long term goal is to provide the technical tools to facilitate active, confederal, and directly democratic social change networks. In other words if you run campaigns, organize events or actions, use Crabgrass rather than Facebook or any other corporate social network.

7. Truecrypt we all have sensitive data. ID details, passwords, porn (busted!). Truecrypt is a free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7 / Vista/ XP, Mac OS X and Linux. It’s very easy to use and it has great options. Get your stuff encrypted!

These are just basics. I’m not a geek myself but I constantly learn how to be safer  so people I cooperate with are not at risk that someone will break their (my) privacy. If you think I should mention about other stuff let me know and I’ll add it.

Will revolution start on the Internet?

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I guess many people recalls cyberpunk books written by writers such as William Gibson these days. The conflicts between hackers and corporations, post-industrial world, dirty businesses and corrupted politicians. The struggle against them. A few decades ago it all looked like an intriguing fiction or great ideas for a movie.

Today, it’s not a fiction anymore. We witness a growing conflict between organized (but leadership free) groups of hackers such as Anonomyous and corporations or governments. In many places of the world we face an environmental disaster caused by big businesses or tragic effects of globalization such as mass exploitation and degeneration. We’re monitored by thousands CCTV cameras and surveillance tools, we’re forced to eat GMO foods, we’re influenced by corporate propaganda and threatened by economic compulsion. Mortgages, unemployment, crisis… we face a number of issues like these every day. It’s not something new though. The political movements opposing capitalism are trying to cope with it from many years. We had massive Seattle protests in 1999, anti-capitalist Genoa in 2001, direct actions led by groups like ELF, ALF or urban guerillas from Greece, Italy, Argentine or Chile. Zapatistas, Argentinian workers and their cooperatives, social centres. Revolts in France and Greece. And many many more. Those actions caused a lot of confusion and fear among politicians and shareholders. But the system remains strong. At the end of day you may see a black block with molotov cocktails but the other side have tanks and guns.

The system remains strong because it’s hard to fight the enemy who’s way more powerful on the streets. It’s hard to win with an opponent who’s so violent and depraved. However as we learned in a last few years it looks different when it comes to the Internet. Internet gives people the tools they wouldn’t find in reality. Internet allows people to organize themselves anonymously and democratically. It gives them freedom of expression and creation. At the same time it is a way to exchange unlimited information on any subject. On the Internet it doesn’t really matter whether you’re white, black, gay, Russian or Canadian, queer, Christian or Jew.

So when you see such a bastion of freedom in the enslaved world of capitalism it’s not surprising that it becomes a threat to the system. In fact, it was the work of Internet activists that shook its foundations. Wikileaks leaks such as CableGate or Iraq War Logs were and are the cause of the crises of several governments. Their impact is really huge and in consequences it means their activity seriously affects the reality we all live in. And when the US administration and fellow corporations tried to shut Wikileaks down they received a quick response from Anonymous. It’s quite fascinating that the web attacks were more serious for all the companies and governments than thousands of protests and boycotts. It brings us to the question, what does it mean?

Perhaps we’re looking for a change in the wrong place? We expect that the Occupy Movement or Arab Spring will inspire a revolution. But most people are not on the streets. Most people are on the web though. That’s why you got so big resistance re PIPA, SOPA and ACTA bills. That’s why sites like PirateBay are so popular and Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world. People want to share their knowledge, information, music, films, ideas. People want to live together and organize themselves freely. They want to join projects, they want to leave projects, they want privacy, they want freedom. On the Internet they realize they don’t need governments or big businesses to rule their lives. The progress of civilization is amazing on the web. The current system with all those copyrights, profit-based think tanks and neoliberal perspective can’t follow it, can’t understand what’s actually going on. They’re still looking for money when people are building a new kind of social and political relations. No borders, skills sharing, open source, free speech, free culture. Anonymous group even released A Declaration of the Independence of CyberSpace where they state:

In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

In other words, maybe this is the place where the revolution starts?

Written by Kruk

March 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm


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A friend of mine is setting up a tech social centre called #FreeLab. It actually looks quite interesting as you’ve got loads of social centres or squats where you can attend screenings, gigs or lectures. However most of them don’t cover technological issues so you’re not really able to learn how to use PHP or how to build a wind turbine or rocket stove. Unless you pay for it ridiculous money. So you may say #FreeLab is a technical initiative that aims to provide Resarch & Development support for intentional communities. Check out their manifesto.

Now, it’s based in Poland but I know lots of you travel a lot. Some of you visit Poland regularly. So here’s the thing. If you reckon you’d be able to run some workshops, or you’d like to attend some of them get in touch. Alternatively you can also support them in other way. They’re just starting so they need a lot of help with it. If you can donate, send in some stuff, share your contacts or you want to be a part of the collective running #FreeLab, get in touch with them too. I believe it might be a very useful place for the movement itself but also for each of us. It may provide the support we really need in order to progress (from where we are). We have brilliant ideas but we lack skills.  Let’s face it as it happens all the time. So let’s change it! 

Anyways, if you’re looking for something exciting to do, here’s your chance! Get involved folks and keep it going!

Written by Kruk

March 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm