Julian Assange’s 2014 Message to System Administrators

Julian Assange Calls on Computer Hackers to Unite Against NSA Surveillance:

Those high-tech workers, we are a particular class, and it’s time that we recognized that we are a class and looked back in history and understood that the great gains in human rights and education and so on that were gained through powerful industrial work as we formed the backbone of the economy of the 20th century, I think we have that same ability, but even more so, because of the greater interconnection that exists now, economically and politically, which is all underpinned by system administrators. And we should understand that system administrators are not just those people who administer one unique system or another; they are the people who administer systems. And the system that exists globally now is created by the interconnection of many individual systems. And we are all, or many of us, are part of administering that system, and have extraordinary power, in a way that is really an order of magnitude different to the power industrial workers had back in the 20th century.

And we can see that in the cases of the famous leaks that WikiLeaks has done or the recent Edward Snowden revelations, that it’s possible now for even a single system administrator to have a very significant change to the—or rather, apply a very significant constraint, a constructive constraint, to the behavior of these organizations, not merely wrecking or disabling them, not merely going out on strikes to change policy, but rather shifting information from an information apartheid system, which we’re developing, from those with extraordinary power and extraordinary information, into the knowledge commons, where it can be used to—not only as a disciplining force, but it can be used to construct and understand the new world that we’re entering into.

Now, Hayden, the former director of the CIA and NSA, is terrified of this. In Cypherpunks, we called for this directly last year. But to give you an interesting quote from Hayden, possibly following up on those words of mine and others: “We need to recruit from Snowden’s generation,” says Hayden. “We need to recruit from this group because they have the skills that we require. So the challenge is how to recruit this talent while also protecting ourselves from the small fraction of the population that has this romantic attachment to absolute transparency at all costs.” And that’s us, right?

So, what we need to do is spread that message and go into all those organizations—in fact, deal with them. I’m not saying don’t join the CIA. No, go and join the CIA. Go in there. Go into the ballpark and get the ball and bring it out—with the understanding, with the paranoia, that all those organizations will be infiltrated by this generation, by an ideology that is spread across the Internet. And every young person is educated on the Internet. There will be no person that has not been exposed to this ideology of transparency and understanding of wanting to keep the Internet, which we were born into, free. This is the last free generation.

The coming together of the systems of governments, the new information apartheid across the world, the linking together, is such that none of us will be able to escape it in just a decade. Our identities will be coupled to it, the information sharing such that none of us will be able to escape it. We are all becoming part of the state, whether we like it or not, so our only hope is to determine what sort of state it is that we are going to become part of. And we can do that by looking and being inspired by some of the actions that produced human rights and free education and so on, by people recognizing that they were part of the state, recognizing their own power, and taking concrete and robust action to make sure they lived in the sort of society that they wanted to, and not in a hellhole dystopia.

— Julian Assange



The Chaos Communication Congress

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