Hackers gather in Germany for computing 'Woodstock'

Afp
Wednesday 17 August 2011 00:00
Comments

With hammocks hanging from trees and the smell of marijuana lingering in the air, the summer camp organised by Germany's Chaos Computer Club (CCC) almost felt like Woodstock.

But instead of hippies it was computer hackers who had flooded this year's summer camp. And instead of flower power the talk was of the latest controversies in cyberspace, especially the legality of hacking and the role of famed whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

Organised by the CCC, which fights for freedom of information through hacking, the camp takes place every four years and is a venue for computer fans to meet, debate hacking issues and try out new technology.

Hosted over four days last week at a former Soviet base in Finowfurt, north of Berlin, the camp attracted an estimated 3,500 hackers from 50 countries, up from 2,300 people in 2007, CCC spokesman Frank Rieger said.

Mixing conferences with workshops with titles such as "Cyberpeace and datalove", the camp attracted a young and mostly male crowd, united by the CCC slogan "Protect private data, exploit public data".

But beyond the "peace and love" atmosphere, the hacking community was split on several issues.

"Hackers are very individualistic, they don't like being put in boxes," explained Rieger.

One hot-button topic was Julian Assange's controversial agenda, following the release of hacked US diplomatic cables this year which again divided opinion on the whistleblower site and its founder.

Former WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg, now a self-sworn enemy of Assange, used the Finowfurt event to announce the launch of his own platform, OpenLeaks, and challenged CCC members to hack it.

"He wants to use us as a credibility voucher," said the CCC's Andy Mueller-Maguhn, a close friend of Assange who stands out from the hacking crowd with his pressed shirt and briefcase.

"It's very annoying. By definition, our movement is an open one," he said, "but sometimes one has to set limits."

Another issue up for debate was the legality of hacking, where many agree the lines are blurred.

Samuel Lesueur of the French hacker group Ecolab said he has always chosen "the legal route" but admits that "out of the boundaries of the association, everyone does as they please".

"Anything that's illegal has no legitimacy to me," said Jeremie Zimmermann, from "La Quadrature du Net", a French group promoting Internet freedom.

But Zimmermann admits to campaigning against laws in France that ban downloading data from the Internet and downplayed spectacular hacking attacks by the groups Anonymous and LulzSec.

"Anonymous and LulzSec, that's not terrorism, that's merely vandalism," he said.

LulzSec claimed responsibility for a 50-day rampage earlier this year against international businesses and government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the US Senate and electronics giant Sony.

The group has since disbanded.

Last week another hacker group attacked the websites of numerous US police agencies in protest at the arrest of a number of their peers, including hackers from the group Anonymous.

But it was not all philosophical debate at Finowfurt.

"I want to hack my girlfriend's webcam in order to spy on her," confessed one young man, who did not want to give his name.

"But I couldn't find anyone to tell me how to do it," he added, looking dejected.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in