Impressions of Primavera Hacker (Santiago de Chile)

Due to my involvement in the UNAM/DGAPA/PAPIME PE102718 project on the ”creation of teaching materials regarding privacy and anonymity mechanisms”, as the Southern half of the world gets ready for the warm season, I was invited to participate during the first weekend of December in Primavera Hacker 17. With around 350 participants spanning a good chunk of Latin America, this was a most interesting experience.

First, this is not –and does not attempt to be– an academic conference. I was invited to a gathering of hackers in the broadest sense; a gathering of collectives wary of the massive surveillance that defines the dystopian reality we live in.

Primavera Hacker is, like many similar gatherings, about a group of people fighting for their on-line freedom, both against the continuous surveillance by national entities and by international corporate entities. That is, different ways to resist our every step being tracked by Google, Amazon, Facebook, the NSA… You name it.

One of the important issues that makes Primavera Hacker stand out is its regional consciousness: I have been to many similar meetings where participants learn about the tools, or weave social relationships that will allow them to better interact in a local or national level. Primavera Hacker, in no small part due to the support given to it by Derechos Digitales América Latina, is working to weave it in a much larger scale — There were participants from all over Latin America; I interacted with people living in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela and Mexico, and I’m sure I missed some.

While the Latin American region is way too large, and it’s hard to generalize anything spanning such a vast territory, there is an important sense of togetherness that builds common traits to many of our countries. Those of us coming from Mexico traveled over 6,500Km, but came to a place we could perfectly call home; even though sociodemographic levels, alleged government alignments, or overall social conditions can be so different, our cultures are similar (while not homogeneous), and the advance of challenges to on-line freedom has also quite a high correlation.

Tor Project logo

I went to PHacker mainly to take part in the Tor Meetup; members of the Tor project met to help interested people in getting it installed and working in computers with various operating systems, tablets, phones and other devices. But, simultaneously to this, we talked about how to help Tor itself — Promotion regarding the setup of Tor relays and exit nodes in our region, which is very underrepresented with less than 1% of the global Tor nodes, and the teaching of what it is and why is it useful and needed, particularly in universities.

Primavera Hacker is a very varied gathering. It included traditional conference-style presentations, workshops and activities with full audience participation, even physical self-defense lessons for women and vulnerable groups were part of the program.

I wholeheartedly thank Derechos Digitales and the Tor Project for giving me the opportunity to take part of Primavera Hacker. To all readers of this blog — If this topic intersts you, XRDS will present an issue this upcoming year tackling topics of online anonymity, identity and privacy!

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About Gunnar Wolf

Gunnar Wolf is pursuing a MSc degree in Information Security at IPN (Escuela Superior de Ingeniería Mecánica y Eléctrica), and teaches at the undergraduate degree of UNAM (Facultad de Ingeniería). He is a free software advocate, and a developer in the Debian project. Systems and network administrator for the Economics Research Institute (UNAM), has had the opportunity to do research on topics that include the social aspects of free software projects.

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