The recent disclosures made by whistleblower Edward Snowden encompass some of the most severe threats to Human Rights and to democracy in the modern age. We are experiencing a “chill” in the fields of investigative reporting while witnessing an unholy alliance between government agencies, Internet service providers and the media, that have caused a rupture of confidence in the security industry as well as in our civic institutions. The Snowden affair has also shed light on how journalism is being perceived in our time and how information contained in the leaks is being handled by the media outlets of the 4th Estate, which have traditionally served as the “gatekeepers” for public accountability.
This panel seeks to illustrate how the virtue ethics of cypherpunk, whistleblowing and investigative journalism are evolving into a hybrid form of civic resistance against the predations of the State. It will discuss the ascendancy of an information commons, a so-called 5th Estate, as a network of networks, that can serve to complement, if not surpass the 4th Estate and how it can serve to effectuate political change.
Diani Barreto – Cuban-American painter, media artist, translator, information activist and independent researcher on whistleblowers and hacktivism. She is the spokesperson for the Free Chelsea Manning Net in Berlin and Public Relations officer for the Wau Holland Stiftung.
William Binney – worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) for 32 years in the fields of Intelligence Analysis, Traffic Analysis, Systems Analysis, Mathematics and Knowledge Management. He turned whistleblower and resigned in 2001. Over the years, Bill Binney has applied mathematical discipline to collection, analysis and reporting. In the process, he formulated Set Theory, Number Theory and Probability applications to collection, data analysis and intelligence analysis. Based on this experience, he was able to structure analysis and transform it into a definable discipline making it possible to code and automatically execute these functions without human intervention from the point of collection to the end report. The successful automation of analysis formed the foundation for prototype developments in the SARC. These efforts caught the eye of Congressional Staffers and captured their imaginations. So much so that Congress actively supported and funded SARC development of automated systems. These systems revolutionised the business processes by demonstrating how to handle massive amounts of data effectively and relate results to military and other customers. Bill Binney has also organised an international coalition of countries to jointly develop technology, share results and gain the benefits of collaborative efforts.
Alexa O’Brien – independent journalist. Her work has been published in The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian UK, Salon, The Daily Beast, and featured on the BBC, PBS Frontline, On The Media, and Public Radio International. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the UK.
Annie Machon – was an intelligence officer for the UK’s MI5 in the 1990s, before leaving to help blow the whistle on the crimes and incompetence of the British spy agencies. As a result she and her former partner had to go on the run around Europe, live in exile in France, face arrest and imprisonment, and watch as friends, family and journalists were arrested. She is now a writer, media commentator, political campaigner, and international public speaker on a variety of related issues: the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, the war on whistleblowers, and the war on the internet. In 2012 she started as a Director of LEAP in Europe. Annie has an MA (Hons) Classics from Cambridge University. She is the author of “Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5 and the David Shayler Affair” (The Book Guild, 2005).