Transcribe/We Lost The War

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This is a transcription of the controversial talk held by Frank Rieger and Rop Gonggrijp at the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress.

The video recording can be downloaded at or at

This is not yet complete. I try to transcribe 10 to 15 minutes of the talk each day. With the included timestamps you can calculate for yourself when this text will be complete. Please note that there is no guarantee that the text is correct, I have not yet re-read it. Any corrections are welcome, please talk to Scytale!n=scy@unaffiliated/scytale at Freenode or via XMPP (Jabber) to

A ??? means that I couldn't understand one or more words at that point. A (?) means that I'm not quite sure if what I understood there is right.

The most current version of this text can be found at [1]. I don't think I have any copyright on this text, since it is based on a talk by someone else, but I'd like to remind you that transcribing one minute of the talk takes 10 to 15 minutes "real time". The talk took 75 minutes. You may check for yourself how many hours I must have worked on this. So, if you really need to paste or publish this text elsewhere, please give me credit and include the link above. Thank you.


Announcement Girl

Okay. So, welcome to the last talk of the session today, well, of this session today, it's by Frank from Berlin and Rop from the Netherlands, he's the editor of Hack-Tic and organized What The Hack! this year, most of you probably have been there. The title of this talk is We Lost the War, it sounds a bit pessimistic, and I hope the two will explain how we can escape the user-friendly police state they're mentioning.

[some seconds silence, then applause]


The beamer can be switched off, we don't need it.

Yeah, good evening. We have pondered this talk for quite a while, actually Rop tried to have this talk on What The Hack!, but it somehow didn't happen. We Lost the War is the title, because we feel that somehow we need to mention the fact that we actually lost the war. We lost the war for privacy, we lost the war for free internet maybe, we lost the war against the surveillance industry, at least for now. So, we won a few battles, we prevented the clipperchip quite a while ago, we managed to keep Germany at least an island of privacy in Europe, but that's about it. And we think it's about time that we talk about this, that we think about why we have lost, what can be done, what is the situation now and what follows from that, based on that we have some kind of foresight on where the travel goes, where we'll end up and what the technology is that will be used to keep an eye on us.

So, essentially this talk has two faces. One is we look at the situation, where we will be in two years, where we are right now, what can we see in terms of tendency of police state, of surveillance state, what technology will be upon us within a short timeframe and then try to develop ideas what can be done about that. So, how we can stay relevant, how we can stay in the position to influence society to the better and how to keep somehow position where we are not completely helpless. So, claiming that this is not the case and everything will be fine again is obviously not possible anymore.


Okay, there are some risks and potential benefits of this talk. As Frank said, first we'll look at the situation now and we're gonna try to convince at least some portion of you that this is not, what we're seeing right now is not the normal swing of things, it's not "well, you win some, you lose some", that there are really some fundamental things changing, about to change and have changed in the world around us. Then the second part is trying to think, as already mentioned, trying to think about what's going to happen next.

Now, the main risk is that we'll do really well on the first part, convincing you all that doom is upon us, and then we'll fail miserably on the second part, of figuring out what to about it; so you'll all be very demotivated, won't feel like doing anything about it and everything will be much worse than when we started. Ehm, some of this material can be quite depressing and I mean that quite literally, I was very very very depressed for the past two years as this all started happening in Holland. I'll come back to why Holland has been specifically depressing over the past few years later. Ahm... let me see here... [looks at his notes] Eh, we're going to do this relatively, relatively quickly, we have a lot to talk about and we want some audience participation; we'd like to have fifteen to twenty minutes left at the end, so we can try to get ideas, try to hear what people think for positive models, for changing what's going on, but we'll get to that much later. [to Frank:] Okay.


Okay, ehm, the situation now. Basically we are inside the future that we always had in these dark sci-fi novels, that we never wanted, that we speculated sometimes about when the winter was especially dark and we were already in a depressed mood and when we thought about how it would be, the police state, the state that knowed everything about us, the corporations, that are basically part of the state entity... and we are there now. It's not the future anymore. It's not like a sci-fi movie or something like that (?), we are there now. And we have to live with that and think about what follows from that and what can be done.

[time: 5m01s]

The logic behind everything is: The politicians and the people who are really in power today have a view of the world that is entirely pessimistic. They see the crisises that are on the horizon. They see that we have a climate change coming up, it's undeniable meanwhile, which may mean that millions of people need to relocate, that vast areas of land will be not usable anymore, that huge amounts of real estate will not be insurable anymore because it will be below sea level. So we see that the changes of globalisation have led to something that can no longer be sustained in the western society in terms of "labour for all", that was yesterday. So we're just in the face where the politicians don't really want to acknowledge that there simply is not enough labour anymore for everybody, but this is already the case. And so they need to prepare for that. They need to prepare in some sort of... I don't know what their mindset is about that... erm, for the state where two thirds of the population will have no meaningful labour, but something that maybe earns their rent, but only... maybe. So, they see that immigration pressure is there, that a lot of people want to come to the west (?) because it's, even as worse as it has become, it's even much better than in the rest of the world. And as climate catastrophes strike in Africa, we will have huge immigration pressure onto Europe.

Also what we see is the energy crisis. Peak oil is there. So we can talk about if it's maybe five years or ten years, but the end of fossil energy is there, which means that the society will need to develop alternatives very fast. And if that doesn't happen, then the disruptions will be severe.

We also see that there are disruptive technologies on the horizon; if you think of nano technology, we will have to talk about here, what do you think about what follows on from the development of DNA technology, this can be hugely disruptive for society.

What we see today under the banner of "fight against terrorism" is nothing but preparation for an even darker future. In the minds of the people who govern us. So this future does not need to be as dark. But that's what they prepare for and that's what they, in parts at least, [are] aiming for.

In the end we will have a never ending state of emergency. There will always be some terror on demand that keeps up the fear. There will always be the next big scare that justifies the next law to further reduce our freedoms. There will always be some kind of technology that they don't really understand and that they want to limit or keep under their control.

Today's tool for shaping the society is this "terror on demand". The next tool that will come from them is data mining, meaning that optimization of society in ways that we cannot imagine today, that maybe in novels like "Gattaca" have been pictured. This will really happen. This is what is our future now.

Our future is a nicely coloured, fully automated police state. It will be not really intrusive, if you have nothing to hide then you should not be bothered, but it will be there. And it will end the development of society as we know it today. If we don't find a way to go up against that.

The scope of technology as we have it today, in terms of surveillance, in terms of data mining, in terms of profiling, is virtually unlimited. If it does not work today because the amount of data is too vast, it will certainly work in ten years. If we look at the development of technology and say "okay, there is no way to store all e-mail traffic because it's much too much data", this might be the case today. In ten years, it will be available for sure, as commercial technology.

Pointing to "this technology does not work" or "that technology does not work" does not really help us, because we can already see that it will work in the very near future. And even if some particular technology like biometry fails entirely because for principle reasons, there are enough other alternatives for authentication that they will use. If biometry fails, they will simply go directly for DNA identification, which will be the next big wealth (?) here. And this all is possible because democracy is essentially deprecated. If you look at the European Union, we are not really governed in certain areas of policy anymore by our parliaments. We're governed by directives that are dealt out in backrooms by people who are not even elected. This is the case today. So we are not governed by anything that resembles democracy at all.

So it looks like [in] democracy people can debate, which is nice, which is why we are sitting here, and we retain certain freedoms, but the real decisions are not made anymore in a democratic way.

[time: 10m13s]

And where it all ends is that the state is able to prosecute people he doesn't like selectively. There will be no more thing called justice, because if everything that you do is known at some point in some database, and available for automatic processing, which is the end goal, then somebody or some algorithm can choose to prosecute you or not.

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