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EnQripta Quito and Campus Party Quito: It's Up to Us!

Thoughtworks Ecuador joined with several  free Internet and free software groups from the country (Radialistas, Soporte Libre, Info Desarrollo, EPN, and dozens of individual volunteers) to organize the EnQripta Quito, an all night crypto event sharing encryption tools and know-how with thousands of students.

Held on the margins of a three-day Campus Party that attracted more than 3,000 students and numerous professionals from Ecuador, EnQripta Quito provided talks from experts, journalists and technologists, explaining why online privacy is important and how encryption provides the choice of privacy for your communications.  

[Campus Party before EnQripta Quito started]

Inspired by the success of the CryptoRave in Brazil that attracted 2,000 people, we held meetings in our office with all of the collaborators and organizations to share responsibilities for finding speakers, planning the agenda, and creating promotional material like badges, t-shirts and stickers.

[One of the stickers that we would use in our computers after encrypted]

Everyone in the Thoughtworks Ecuador office worked hard  and participated over the three days by organizing, teaching, giving interviews and helping to make the Campus Party and EnQripta Quito a great success. Besides the speeches on agile, innovation, software development, hardware and cryptography, Thoughtworks also hosted a 24-hour hackathon where groups of developers created applications to help citizens on several different urban problems, including a system for friends and neighbours to help each other in case of emergencies, and another one to help people find their pets when they disappear.

[A small part of the group very tired and happy after a day of work]

More about the EnQripta Quito event

The event had lectures and presentations by experts on several areas speaking about themes such as: Internet governance; social networks and privacy; secure chat; secure email; why privacy matters and why we should worry about it; among other others.

Our presenters included Ola Bini, developer and security expert at Thoughtworks; Ricardo Arguello, Fedora ambassador in Ecuador and expert in free software; Valeria Betancourt, Human Rights activist and online access to Internet; Sri Prasanna, developer from Thoughtworks India, Rafael Bonifaz, president of the Free Software Association of Ecuador (ASLE); Ernesto Delgado, developer from Thoughtworks Ecuador, and Jenny Torres, researcher at the Department of Informatics at the National Polytechnic School.

[Ola presenting the Crypto Super Powers]

We also had practical workshops for the attendees to learn to encrypt their emails, cell phones and computers and also get to know other practical ways to start protecting themselves and society. Several technologies were discussed, including Pidgin + OTR, Tor, Tails, Orbot, Adium, Thunderbird, Enigmail, etc. You can check the websites of these projects here.  Several collaborators worked very closely with the journalists on the ground, helping them to learn how to protect their communications and ultimately their sources.

One of the highlights of the evening was a midnight visit from Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, who joined us from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London via videolink.  He answered questions from the attendees for one hour and inspired many people to hit the TW Coding Zone at 2am to learn more about how to use technologies to protect their data and privacy. We even gave prizes to those who were first to learn the tools.  


It is up to us!

Assange spoke about several subjects answering many different questions, but I want to highlight two parts of his talk:

  1. When asked why should anyone care about this subject he said we should stop being selfish and think about others. That is a very powerful statement, but I’ll leave the interpretation up to you after listening to his words.
  2. The second highlight I want to share is when he was asked about how he sees the future. The answer had two views: a dystopia where a very centralized and dangerously invisible power is being used to control the population; or a future with a free Internet being used in favor of the people. Which one will depend on us and on what we do right now!

Continuing on this idea, Ola Bini said, “Encryption is the most important tool we have to protect our privacy and anonymity. The Internet is not a safe place, sending an email is like sending a postcard: anyone can take it and read it. Piece of cake. This practice is successful when many people use it and implement it on their machines. When enough people use encryption of information, mass surveillance becomes much more expensive. Thus, one person can help others to be safer.” 

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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