Dictators, democracies, and technology: Evgeny Morozov's keynote speech at #28c3 (Berlin, 12.27.11)

This is the pre-release video of Evgeny Morozov’s keynote speech Marriage From Hell: On the Secret Love Affair Between Dictators and Western Technology Companies delivered on dec. 27th, 2011 at the 28c3, 28th Chaos Communication Congress “Behind Enemy Lines”.

Why sanctions on technology companies who do business with totalitarian countries are ineffective? How much know-your-customer rule should we delegate to technologies? Did the Arab Spring end censorship and Web filtering in the Middle-East and North Africa? Are Russia, China and Western democracies becoming more and more unconfortable with too much Internet freedom? Why we need to act NOW against domestic surveillance? These, and other important questions are answered in the speech (which by the way starts at 3:20…)

“[Today’s governments are] not just monitoring what people do. You might have seen the recent story in Bloomberg New that discussed how Tunisian authorities actually modified the content of Samir’s mail messages, either by putting some gibberish in them to confuse the people or – as in one case discussed in that article – actually inserting pornographic images in the e-mail. That way they were trying to embarrass and to harrass the recipients, thus creating a very disturbing trend where people are no longer confident in the technology they use”

“What has to change is not just us talking in abstract about banning [surveillance technology companies]. We need to use this opportunity to scrutinize the involvement that our governments have with those regimes. (…) That’s a problem that needs to be solved and that reaches much deeper than just the experts of technologies. But I think this is an opportunity for geeks and people who are beginning to think about it politically – whether it is through Pirate Parties or through Telecomix or through other entities – to think much more explicitly about the foreign policy dimension of their work. I don’t think it’s a bad angle for these entities to take. I think that some change is possible. And I also think it’s possible to actually rhetorically exploit the current fascination with Internet to make a lot of arguments that are not so much about the Internet but are about foreign policy per se (…) to start engaging in this issue in a much more political and strategic manner…”

“How can we actually make sure that our media can report on those companies [who sell surveillance technology to dictatorships] if those companies are basically suing the media out of existence? This is something that is probably much better done by individual activists – Anonymous or any other sources – than by Bloomberg or Wall Street Journal because those have lawsuits to lose and Anonymous has so many lawsuits to lose at this point that one more lawsuit wouldn’t matter.”