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article imageStockholm Internet Forum fails to invite key activists

By Ken Hanly     May 28, 2014 in Technology
Stockholm - Some key people who have revealed the extent of internet spying by NSA and other activists did not receive an invitation to attend a forum in Sweden on internet openness and freedom. This has outraged some on Twitter and was brought up at the conference.
The Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) began on May 26.
This is the third annual meeting of internet activists and has as its main theme "Internet-privacy, transparency, surveillance, and control". Names generally associated with the topic, are Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks. However, neither Snowden nor Greenwald were invited, nor was anyone from Wikileaks. The hacker Jacob Appelbaum who discovered the mobile phone number of Angela Merkel in Snowden's database was not invited either.
SIF is promoted by the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Ambassador Olof Ehrenkova. According to a German magazine a list of possible candidates to attend had been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where it was apparently vetted. Snowden's name was on the list and was marked in red suggesting that was code for "do not invite".
When the magazine asked the Ministry why prominent activists were not invited, he replied that the conference wanted to have a "wide array of backgrounds, cultures and opinions" at the conference, and also to have an equal number of male and female invitees. At least half were required to be from developing countries as well. The Ministry also said: “We would also like to point out that those who haven’t been invited are able to follow the entire conference online and give opinions and raise questions during the discussions,”
The failure to invite prominent activists was criticized not only by participants but on Twitter under the hashtag #SIF14. Swedish Ambassador Olof Ehrenkrona confirmed on Twitter that the Foreign Ministry had rejected a proposal to invite Snowden. He tweeted: “Not a boycott. We just did not invite him. Others not invited are not boycotted,” The appended video shows the response to questioning at the conference.
The SIF faces a number of difficulties. There are now numerous forums throughout the world that deal with similar issues including hacker meetings in the US such as Black Hat and Def Con. Among the larger conferences are the UN-sanctioned Internet Governance Forum, with representatives from stakeholders in government, corporations, and civil society. At the level of Europe EuroDIG has a similar function. Then there are the hacker conferences and also many non-governmental conferences such as the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. Not only is there competition but it is possible that a new government could be elected in September which might see the present forum as a disposable project of the former government. Finally, since the Snowden revelations Sweden now appears not as the champion of internet freedom but as colluding with the US and UK spying services:
Sweden's signals intelligence agency FRA joined the NSA and the UK's GCHQ in testing a man-in-the middle attack which aims to install malware on targeted foreign computer systems. By law, the FRA is only allowed to passively listen to cross-border signals, after gaining permission from a special court. Although the FRA possibly did not contribute to the intrusion part of the operation (instead forwarding promising signals as triggers for the others to act on) that is at best a case of following the letter of the law in order to blatantly flaunt it in spirit, in the guise of a collaborative effort. The Swedish Foreign Ministry probably did not want the conference to bring up issues such as this as would likely happen if the wrong people were invited to the conference.
More about edward snowden, Glenn greenwald, Stockholm Internet Forum
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