Chaos Computer Club: Status quo is final battle of privacy vs surveillance
“History shows what happens when governments become less transparent and citizens become more transparent,” and any form of action, legal or otherwise, against mass state surveillance is warranted, Chaos Computer Club spokesperson Linus Neumann told RT.
On February 3, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), Europe’s largest association of hackers, filed a criminal complaint against the German government for aiding foreign spying by the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ. They allege violations of citizens’ right to privacy, basing their case on leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The CCC also invited the former NSA employee Snowden to give testimony as a witness.
RT: What is your group hoping to achieve with this lawsuit?
Linus Neuman: If you look at what happened in Germany after the Snowden revelations and the cause of the Snowden revelations, the answer is nothing. The German government has denied that there are any breaches in the law, that there is even any reason to act.
The general prosecutor has denied there’s even the faintest hint at criminal activity that would give a reason to investigate what’s going on and of course this type of reaction is quite unusual if you look at the German Constitution and German criminal law, so we’re wondering whether the refusal to do anything is because the people have something to hide or whether it is because they have something to be afraid of and we want to find out the answer to this question.
RT: The Chaos Computer Club…are described as a group of hacktivists hacking into private computer systems. Going after secretive data is something that hacktivists in general do. As a member of this group then why has this gotten you so angry that someone has dared to hack into private data?
LN: The Chaos Computer Club is an organization that respects citizen’s private rights and I can tell you any hacker will go to jail for far less than what we are seeing on German grounds here. So I try to correct this image of the evil hacker. I also want to remind you of what we do every day by helping people to protect their systems. So the knowledge about computer security weakness is not necessarily the motivation to actually exploit this, but it can also be pursued by the motivation to close this in order to protect citizens better.
RT: So if the court sees your point of view in the case and decides to back it, do you think other groups in other countries may follow suit?
LN: Depending on the situation in their country and the legal situation I certainly think they should follow if they have the legal base for this type of action. But I also acknowledge and welcome other actions that we see in other countries. For example activists in Utah are now trying to cut off the NSA’s water supply. Anything needs to be done now because I believe this is the one time in history that we’re going to have this discussion that we should have had way before all of this surveillance equipment was installed. If you look at the status quo, this is probably metaphorically speaking the final battle.
RT: You as a hacker understand the potential of the internet as a source of information. People are increasingly living their lives online and putting more information online. Wouldn't it be remiss for a government to try and delve as much into the online world as possible in order to get information that protects their national security?
LN: I certainly understand government’s motivations to penetrate these networks and to penetrate these social networks that people reveal online. It is however a danger to any democracy that a government reaches this kind of power over its people. We see abuse of this power every day. This is why we have laws against this, this is why we have constitutions against such activities and this is why we need to defend these rights because we know where history will lead us if we allow governments to become more and more nontransparent and its citizens to become more and more transparent.
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