Official picture of CryptoRave 2015, with organizers, activists, and guests. (Actantes)

“From the war on terror to cyberwars.” Inspired by various cryptography events around the world, this was the motto for CryptoRave 2015. The event provided over 35 activities to the public in São Paulo, surpassing the previous year in quality and quantity. Demonstrating the force of Brazilian activists and groups, more than 2,000 people congregated at the Centro Cultural São Paulo on April 24-25 for conferences, hacking, installation fests, and open tables to discuss Brazil's debate on Marco Civil, net neutrality, and other privacy and surveillance topics.

With more than 600 people gathered on Friday, April 24 for the CryptoRave, EFF's international policy director, Katitza Rodriguez, and Andre Meister, an investigative journalist from Netzpolitik, kicked off the event with a keynote speech titled, “Mass Surveillance and Social Control.” Eva Galperin, global policy analyst at EFF, followed with a speech called “Threat Models: What you need to know." Also in attendance were Peter Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay, and Micah Anderson of the LEAP Project.

During the event, EFF talked with several activists from Brazil about the importance of cryptography and its implications in the context of public debate, as well as concerns regarding privacy and freedom online.

Lucas Teixeira, Oficina Antivigilancia:

CryptoRave shows that many people are interested in these issues, not just people with technical or mathematical skills. Cryptography is not a crime, it's a fundamental right that people deserve to have in the physical world. People are advocating for privacy protections for their phone conversations...because if governments and companies don't have the right to enter our houses and record what we do, our online conversations should not be surveilled either.

“Amarela," Tem Boi Na Linha:

Activists and journalists have clear privacy concerns because they don't have the privacy to work and strategize; but ordinary people are also being monitored and they are worried. I, for example, think twice before making a query in search engines.

Latin American governments are exploring the fields of digital mass surveillance, which is why surveillance laws are being passed. In Brazil, we have movement from civil society that is united; when surveillance laws are proposed, we at least slow them down...Governments will advance in surveillance, and people must organize to stop it. Events like CryptoRave have to keep going on, grow and involve more countries.

Peter Sunde, co-founder and ex member of The Pirate Bay:

We usually compare cryptography to a prophylactic, because if you are having sex, you don't want to be unprotected. You know there are diseases, so we need prophylactics, and encryption is sort of protects you and it protects the person you're with, so you should use them.  But you should also educate the other people about the use of this prophylactic called encryption. Then we should focus on actually getting rid of the disease itself, so like stopping the surveillance. We're going to have to use these prophylactics for a while, but also can't give up on making sure that governments and companies stop spying on us...the battle is two-fold.

Andre Meister, investigative journalist of Netzpolitik:

It is great to see so many people spend their weekend and Friday night not partying, but nerding at this event. Pre Snowden there was no such thing, it was a tiny scene of the usual suspects but now everyone seems to realize that privacy is important and we have to defend it. A way to do that is with cryptography, and we're teaching people to encrypt basically all the things, but that cannot be all. Crypto is only a defensive strategy against what's happening out there, we need to fight for a world where crypto isn't necessary! In my keynote, I presented the levels on which we have to fight, like technical, political, media levels...we have to inform people, find more information about what is actually going on, and fight for a world without surveillance, for freedom of thought and assembly without having to use crypto.

When I was here three years ago, pre Snowden, friends of mine organizing a similar event said “in Brazil no one cares about privacy, except corrupt politicians and celebrities.” After Snowden there seems to be more people, political activists, average users, and journalists who discovered that privacy is being breached all the time and that they are surveilled all the time and should do something about it. Still, Brazil is the fifth biggest country in the world and there's only a few hundred people here, we can do more, educating people to get the word out.

Fernanda Becker, Actantes:

We need to have broader discussions on the right to privacy as a cornerstone of other rights, and a dimension of our own autonomy to make our own decisions.

Fernanda Shirakawa, Escola de Ativismo:

In Brazil we have several threats, and with mass surveillance, all are exposed. The Marco Civil da Internet helped to minimize them a bit, but there are still several loopholes where we see an invasion of privacy with geolocation information; the data protection regarding what data companies have on everyone...people don't know about it.

Sérgio Amadeu, professor UFABC:

We have to spread a culture of privacy defense. One of the biggest security problems in the world is that corporations and governments are destroying privacy, and with no privacy there cannot be a democratic society. Mass surveillance leads to authoritarian processes, self-censorship, and even totalitarian processes. When someone already uses cryptography, it shows that they have a concern for secure communications; he worries enough to combat mass surveillance or at least not allow companies to take control. The use of cryptography is a technical action which also has a major political impact in times of mass surveillance, human rights violation, and data interception.

If we had thousands of people in Brazil, let's say 30,000, using cryptography daily, we would greatly damage the mass surveillance system. With strong crypto, the cost of breaking these encrypted messages is much higher than with normal messages.

Jamila Venturini, member of Centro de Tecnología y Sociedad FGV Rio

It is important to see people of different ages and spaces here. My impression is that there are groups who are not controlling their privacy, so they must be prepared to control their own personal information. In Brazil, there are concrete threats of freedom of expression against bloggers, which are directly related to privacy.

EFF hopes to see more events like the CryptoRave, not only in Brazil but in more countries, because ending mass surveillance is everyone's commitment.