This summer, the Australian government passed the contoversial Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 into law. This introduces some modest (by UK standards) mandatory Data Retention powers.
If only we had something so restricted in the United Kingdom instead of the Orwellian policies championed by Charles Farr, the Labour appartachik at the Home Office who has somehow been allowed to continue to peddle his repressive policies to the Conservative / Liberal Democrat Coalition Government.
This now worldwide meme is essentially about provoking the technologically able minority to spread some of their knowledge and experience about basic Cryptographic and Anonymity enhancing tools such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP / GPG ) and TrueCrypt encryption software, Tor anonymity cloud proxies and the Off-the-Record (OTR) add ons to internet chat software, not just amongst their friends and peers, but to less experienced, less technical users, such as investigative journalists, whistleblowers and political activists, who may actually need to use them much more urgently, even in this supposed Western liberal democracy here in the United Kingdom
This has led to CryptoParty events springing up spontaneously in Australia, USA and mainland Europe and even in Cairo Egypt, with plans / interest in Asia etc.
Notable by their absence, perhaps due to language difficulties or local repression are any planned CryptoParties in say, Moscow or Beijing, even though the pro Putin Kremlin funded RT.com is one of the few major international news outlets to have picked up on the meme. - Ain't no party like a cryptoparty: privacy goes viral .
The first CryptoParty has already happened in the UK, in Cardiff on Saturday 22nd September 2012, with expressions of interest in Manchester, Sheffield and Swansea.
CryptoParty London. with about 100 people already registered to attend is set for next Saturday 29th September 2012, starting at 6pm..
The Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) where this is due to happen is actually "in the belly of the beast" kindly hosted for free by Google Campus in London.
Google Campus: Ground Floor
4-5 Bonhill Street
London EC2A 4BX
(between Old Street and Moorgate Tube stations, just off the City Road)
(free) Registration for CryptoParty London is via Eventbrite
Please register and come along if you are an investigative journalist or blogger or elected politician with whistleblowers, confidential sources or consituents' private business to protect or if you simply want to protect your sensitive data from criminals.
CryptoParty London is not commercially or politically aligned with any company or faction[ and everyone is welcome.
Obviously Google is both one of the potential commercial snoopers on people's privacy and communications, but say, an offshore https://gmail.com email accoujnt and its Chrome browser, with SSL website pinning, could also cause big technical problems for Charles Farr's evil Draft Communications Data Bill plans.
Hopefully the process of exposing techies (who know how to download, verify, configure and use such software tools, but who often have very little to actually hide when using them) to real world computer literate but much less technical journalists and political campaigners (who lack the technical knowledge, but who really should be protecting their communications and confidential contacts) will spur the improvement of the the often jargon filled and unfriendly User Interfaces which Cryptographic software such as PGP or GPG have currently avaialble.
Normal people should not have to make impossible choices about Cryptographic alogrithms or Hash functions.
Neither should they be forced to switch from their familair Windows or Macintosh or Android or Apple IOS smartphone environments, to install Linux etc. simply to communicate confidentially and relatively anonymously.
As you may have guessed by now, Spy Blog is heavily involved in the London CryptoParty and will be trying to spread some knowledge and experience about practical, common sense Anonymity techniques and perhaps an overview of UK Surveillance legislation threats, leaving the topics of PGP, TrueCrypt, OTR and Tor to other able experts.
It is impossible to properly debate the forthcoming Draft Communications Data Bill, without having an appreciation or firsthand knowledge of such widely available software tools and techniques, which will render it a huge waste of public money and simply an infringement on the civil iberties of millions of innocent people, for little or no appreciable gain against spies, terrorists or serious organised criminals.
Will this CryptoParty meme spawn a new generation of CypherPunks, who will influence the all too often technologically inept Whitehall civil servants and politicians, in a positive way ?