Freedom Not Fear 2008/Budapest

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The media from the action:

Articles in English:


Video: (test run videocapture) (the projection) (people speak out) (people speak out) (test with music) (projection with music) (sign)

Articles in Hungarian: (Joint press release by Green Spider, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and Protect the Future.) (Report from the action.) (Background of data retention.) (More theoretical article about tactical media usage.) (Interview with Maxigas about data retention.) (5th Free Software Nights lecture on data retention.)

Articles in Russian:


HCLU against data retention:

13:00 Paranoia Workshop at Közért Community Space: what is data retention and how to circumvent it. The law versus mathematics course. Hands on workshop, bring your computer if you can.

20:00 Projection on the White House, office of parlamentiary politicians. Real time visualisation of the logs kept by Green Spider Foundation. Technology: Fluxus live coding environment and toilet which displayes large colourful characters, all free software. Check for videos after the event.

A joint press release is distributed for the events, check

Organised by Indymedia, Green Spider, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Protect the Future.

Here is the report from the action we made.

On 11. October 2008 Budapest joined other capital cities in an international action day against the total retention of telecommunication data, the surveillance of air travelers and the biometric registration of citizens were held under the motto "Freedom not Fear - Stop the surveillance mania!"

Who & What A group of activists decided to organize a performance to protest against data retention. The major coordinator and inspirer of the action Maxigas (from “Green Spider” foundation), representatives of CMCS (Center for Communication and Media Studies at Central European University), “Green Spider” and a group of other activists gathered in the centre of Budapest at Jászai Mari tér next to the White House. This is office of Hungarian parliamentary politicians which is situated close to the Parliament and the Danube. The place was chosen because it has a video cam and the tablet that informs that the place is watched by the "Big Hungarian Brother". Moreover, the house is white, which was the precondition for the performance itself: it was planned to make a projection on the wall of this building. The projection itself was a real time visualisation of the logs kept by “Green Spider” foundation: large characters of collapsing e-mail addresses and flags of the countries from which the owners of those e-mail addresses come. This projection had an aim to demonstrate that personal data should not be retained by ISPs, but rather destroyed not to be used by authorities and businesses. Thus, a number of e-mail addresses were transmitted into software with help of mobile internet and then destroyed. All this process was projected on the wall and it seemed as if the e-mails were soaked by the White House wall to give them to the Hungarian authorities that usually work in the building. Unfortunately for the authorities all the data delivered to them just collapsed literary in their hands’.

Why What is wrong with the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/ECof 15 March 2006 so that the activists had to protest against it? This Directive obliges internet service providers (ISPs) to retain traffic, location data and metadata (user IDs, date, time, duration and type of communication etc.) of users from minimum six months up to two years. This means that your ISP will save all your internet access points and duration of your web-surfing. Your mobile service provider will go further and retain information not only about the duration of your calls, but also the place from which you spoke over the cell phone or other device. One of the major aims of the Directive was to fight organized crime and to find the guilty people with help of the metadata (retained by ISPs). In fact this is a weak excuse for the privacy invasion this Directive provides for. Such an analysis of the metadata is done only post-factum and it does not help to prevent crimes, but rather find the guilty afterwards. Overall, the Data Retention Directive conflicts with a fundamental right for privacy which is guaranteed by Article 8 of European Convention of Human Rights and a number of national constitutions. In which way? A clever analysis of such traffic and metadata may also reveal some personal details like political interests or hobbies. For instance, if you like calling your friends at night, this may mean that you are prone to go out at night and attend various parties. Moreover, sooner or later authorities may use such data for ‘national security’ purposes, which may result in an increased number of prosecution of the activists that are in opposition to current government. The businesses also will not stay aside and they may also purchase such data from ISPs for their marketing purposes. Furthermore, the Directive obliges ALL ISPs to retain user’s data irrelevant of the size of an ISP. Hence, even if your activist organization decides to provide internet services on your own and for your members only, you are still obliged to retain all your users’ metadata. This was also a reason why one of the major stakeholders of the Budapest protest were representatives of a not that numerous foundation “Green Spider”, as they are also ‘an alternative ISP’ that does not want to retain the metadata for the authorities.

How According to Hungarian rules, you have to register date, time and place, if your are going to make a public action. So, Maxigas managed to reserve the performance for 8p.m. on Saturday, but only for 1 hour. This was not a real demonstration with thousand of people, but rather a performance for those who is really concerned bout the data retention issue. We were a bit late, but managed to install the equipment and make the performance. The first part of it was just projecting the work of the ‘e-mails collapsing’ software on the wall. The next step, inspired by Peter Molnar, an ex member of Hungarian Parliament and current research fellow at CMCS and a professor at CEU, was a ‘live line’. 6 of us were standing against the wall telling a couple of sentences in our native languages (Hungarian, Ukrainian, German) and English against data retention and the surveillance. The video of this is available at: Finally, we tried to stand against the wall with a transparency "Szabadsag nem felelem" (“Freedom not Fear” in Hungarian), but the police forbade us to do so, as we started the third part after 9 p.m., and the action was registered only by 9 sharp. Still, we managed to walk to the wall, talk to police and walk back holding the transparenvy.

We are now proud that Budapest also joined other cities in protest against data retention and we hope that our performance was a rehearsal before something of a bigger scale. We have to protect our privacy and demonstrate our disagreement with privacy invasive policies!

For a overview about all upcoming nationwide actions and their corresponding contacts, please see: International actions overview

If you want to participate in the action day with your organization, please contact the national contact listed there and add yourself! Per country, one organization, one coordinating officer and one press relations officer should be named.

You can use this wiki for the organization of your local actions. No registration is necessary and no IP-Adresses are saved.

Please try to keep all information at Freedom Not Fear 2008 and at the overview page up to date!

International Call for Action: Freedom_Not_Fear_2008/Call_for_action. Please translate this to your language and save it under Freedom_Not_Fear_2008/CITY_cc/Call_for_action. (replace "cc" with your two-digit country code)

The idea and concept:

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