The state still puts obstacles in the way far too often for online activists who campaign for open data and functional digital administration services, for example. The programmer Lilith Wittmann complained about this on Monday at the start of the second remote Chaos Communication Congress (rC3) of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). Instead of appraising civil society engagement after “15 years of stagnation in the digital world” under black and red, the authorities “took action against some of us”.
Indicated and disabled
Wittmann himself discovered security flaws in the CDU’s election campaign app in the spring and therefore struggled with an ad. She now referred to her colleague Markus Drenger, who discovered the house coordinates of land surveying offices on a federal website, copied them and published them on the open source platform GitHub.
“The federal states didn’t think it was so nice,” reported Wittmann. The Bavarian House Coordinate Central Office “is now suing him for this”. She had previously tried, among other things, with Notices of copyright infringement under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to take action against the publication and projects derived from it, for example by the data visualization expert Johannes Filter. For the federal states, the data from the real estate cadastre has so far been a business: According to reports, buyers have to shell out 100,000 euros for the entire rate.
Activists take over the duties of the offices
With around 100 fellow campaigners, you have that this year Portal bund.dev started, Wittmann brought another example. The aim is to document all unofficial programming interfaces of government organizations and make them openly accessible. 30 such APIs are already listed on the page. This would allow hacktivists “to decide for themselves how we want to use the weather or traffic data, for example for OpenStreetMap”. It would actually be the job of the authorities to do this themselves.
Several authorities have now come up with the idea that disaster warnings, for example, are protected by copyright, the developer explained. The Federal Employment Agency also raised concerns that job descriptions could be problematic in terms of data protection law, even though it was only about access to machine-readable information. The authority even rebuilt the interface, and the portal maker then re-documented it. Wittmann described it as “crass” when the authorities “only mob or report”.
The work of the network activists will only be made possible by a new basic structure of digital civil society such as the FragDenStaat platform, explained the IT security researcher. This makes “freeing documents from the administration” easy, otherwise one would need “what feels like half a law degree” for inquiries about the freedom of information laws of the federal and state governments. Nevertheless, the state often continues to act as a “preventative”. For example, the website on small inquiries from the local parliaments had to cease operations because their “broken” websites did not provide suitable interfaces for automated data retrieval.
What does “digital sovereignty” mean?
“We’re getting ten million euros for open source,” said Wittmann, referring to a bright spot such as the Sovereign Tech Fund. However, the initiative has one shortcoming. Only projects on “digital sovereignty” would be funded. This term is likely to be “often interpreted very differently on both sides”, which could lead to hardened fronts. The hacking community must always ask itself who is collecting what they are doing and what language they are adopting. In any case, it is clear: “The hacker paragraph has to go.”
“We have to become significantly more people” in order to realize the utopia of a “free, self-determined world”, emphasized the expert. “Chop, build, do” should be the motto. The congress is the perfect place to start to move activistically. There you can learn, for example, how to report security gaps correctly, ask the state good questions and analyze data. In her CDU case, she said, “an incredible wave of solidarity” encouraged her to carry on. However, digital civil society still has to learn to better represent society as a whole.
CCC veteran Manuel Atug described the fact that young hacker groups such as the Zerforschung collective and Wittmann were also heavily involved. If they hadn’t “picked” into various Corona test centers, school apps “that endanger our children”, as well as applications from Clubhouse, Gorillas or Flink, some major weaknesses would often have remained undiscovered. The coalition agreement of the red-green-yellow government alliance gives hope to the representatives of the Kritis group, as it rejects hackbacks and calls for effective vulnerability management. At the same time, however, the EU threatened initiatives such as “chat control”, with which the digital secrecy of letters would be abolished and another form of mass surveillance introduced.
the rC3 runs through Thursday. The “Timetable“published the CCC over Christmas. The Streams are freely available, The videos of the lectures will be published afterwards. Actually, for users who had clicked on a ticket in advance, a “2D world“are available to exchange, communicate and discuss with avatars. The” fiber croissant “is in the details and hardworking angels are still working on setting up the platform, announced the congress team on Monday night. Please be patient.