Brighton Crypto Party

CC-BY-SA @limbicfish

Lego Panopticon – Image CC-BY-SA @limbicfish

The event was jointly organised with the Lighthouse, Brighton’s leading digital culture agency. The day started with designer and social entrepreneur Aral Balkan. Aral explained the need for open technology to focus on the user experience, which he terms XO, design‐led / experience‐driven open source. He believes this is critical to stop the “digital feudalism” of Google and co. who offer “free” well designed services in exchange for our privacy. Aral is implementing this philosophy in an ambitious project to build a complete smartphone where the user is in control, the Indie Phone.

Our next speaker, Paolo Vecchi from commercial open source provider Omnis Systems, explained why data control is important to organisations. US based cloud services simply cannot provide any guarantees to their clients, who should look for suppliers of open source auditable technologies that fully comply with Europe’s more stringent privacy laws.

I tried to recap what we have learnt from the Snowden leaks, with a focus on the activities of the UK government and its critical role in the global spy dragnet. I explained what ORG is doing to stop these abuses, including our legal case.

Icelandic software developer and activist Smari McCarthy proposed that we use ubiquitous data encryption to raise the cost of surveillance from it’s current basement bargain price of 13 Cents USD per global internet user a day to something more reasonable. His contribution to this goal is developing a Gmail alternative, Mailpile, which he hopes to lauch in alpha at the beginning of next year.

The skill sharing session saw people split into small groups to focus on specific platforms and technologies. Most participants joined the groups on web browsers and mobile phones. Both kids and grown ups enjoyed the Lego Panopticon game organised by Maf’j Alvarez.

Duncan Campbell closed the day with a thorough overview of state intereference with privacy on the internet. Brighton resident Campbell is the investigative journalism hero who first broke the existence of GCHQ to the public, and was arrested and threatened with 30 years imprisonment.