Inspiring Next-Gen Citizens – Phineas Fisher

A Notorious Hacker Is Trying to Start a ‘Hack Back’ Political Movement by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai.

From the post:

In August of 2014, a hacker shook the cybersecurity world by exposing the secrets of the infamous government surveillance vendor Gamma Group, the makers of the spyware FinFisher.

The hacker jokingly called himself Phineas Fisher, publicizing the hack and taunting the company on Twitter. He also wrote a detailed guide on how he breached Gamma—not to brag, the hacker wrote, but to demystify hacking and “to hopefully inform and inspire you to go out and hack shit.”

Then, Phineas Fisher went dark. For almost a year, his public profiles remained silent. Given that he had just upset a company that sold tools to dozens of spy and police all over the world, it seemed like a wise move.

“For politically minded hackers, Phineas is a legend already.”

See Lorenzo’s post for a short history of Phineas Fisher.

I prefer my title because “notorious” and “hacker” imply that Phineas has transgressed in some way.

In the view of some legal systems, Phineas has transgressed but even within those systems, transgression is a matter of whim and caprice.

Consider the interference with the legitimate development of nuclear power by Iran. The U.S. and others have taken it upon themselves to create software to interfere with that program. Software and actions illegal under the same laws with which Phieas would be prosecuted, but no one has been brought before the bar.

Phineas has acted, no more or less than the Koch brothers, to influence public opinion. Every citizen has the right to influence government action, theirs and others.

Phineas is using information instead of cash to influence government but that distinction matters only to cash hungry politicians and cash flush favor seekers who want to feed them.

“Western democracies” don’t engage in, for the most part, in qui pro quo style corruption. Donors routinely contribute money, year in and year out and not surprisingly, when government decisions are to be made, they have a place at the decision making table. And when the decision making is done, a larger share of government benefits than others.

Information activities, such as those by Phineas, have the potential to create a publicly traded information economy. Imagine if rather than slow leak of the Panama Papers, they appeared on an Information Exchange, where you could bid on some or all of the data for particular countries.

Ownership could be, but not necessarily be, exclusive. Your ownership of the data for China, for example, would in no way interfere with my ownership of the same information.

What I am describing rather poorly is already set forth in Neil Stephenson‘s classic: Snow Crash.

Make no mistake, Snow Crash, like the mistaken for reality tale Atlas Shrugged, is a work of fiction. Despite the potential for the dawning of a new future, the present power system will put you in jail today.

Phineas Fisher is an inspiration for a cyber-aware citizenry gathering and distributing information. Hopefully he will also inspire better operational security in those efforts as well.

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