In the last year or two I have been watching a lot of security focused talks. Most of them relate to the Snowden leaks, anonymity, and various computer security topics. Jacob Appelbaum–who is a software developer and journalist–has been one of my favorite people to watch. He works for the Tor project and his talks typically include technical facts, political ideas, people who he considers are assholes, and lots of question and answer. Due to the nature of his work he lives in exile in Germany and has been advised to not return to the United States.
I will never forget how he opened one of his speeches by quoting his father.
When the next holocaust comes, it will be your fault for not having stopped it.
He goes on to relate that motivational guilt to implementing a technical action plan and how we can resist mass surveillance or other forms of oppression.
It is a great and more recent video which can be found here: YouTube – ‘A technical action plan’
Going back to July 2011, at REcon, Appelbaum gave a talk about Internet Filtering and demonstrated what techniques various countries were using. It is interesting to note that this video is well before the Snowden leaks and we already had some idea of how the NSA was tapping the internet.
YouTube Source – Recon 2011 Internet Filtering by Jacob Appelbaum
His talk focused on oppression and how various companies provide technical solutions to help countries basically track down people and in some cases kill them. Starting just after the 57 minute mark Appelbaum begins to summarize his trip to Egypt. He told some companies that he was consulting for a small country and he wanted to oppress the citizens. He said the guy there from Cisco was like, “yeah, don’t worry about that”. Cisco went on to talk about how their devices are in all the major telecos in Egypt and they are working on getting it deployed in other places. “We can identify exact users and totally help you find those people”.
If anyone has proof that Cisco has stopped providing tools to hunt down people in oppressive countries I would love to see it in the comments.
To be fair Appelbaum talks about other major companies doing similar things but Cisco is the one that relates most to me. While Cisco may be a staple product in my work life I do not need to choose to support them at home. **Please remember this blog represents my current views which may not align with my employer** I will also be working on another post which relates to the more technical aspects of my pfSense installation. If you are interested in watching more of Jacob Appelbaum I would recommend searching for other his presentations such as, ‘To Protect and Infect Part 2’, ‘Not My Department’, and ‘People Think They’re Exempt From NSA’.