NL Municipality wants to ban famous hacker gathering

By EDRi · May 24, 2005


The organisers of ‘What the Hack’, the 2005 edition of a series of famous Dutch outdoor hacker conferences, were told that their conference will not receive the municipal permit needed for the event to happen. ‘What the Hack” is planned to take place on a large event-campground in Liempde (The Netherlands), between the 28th and 31st of July 2005. About 3.000 participants from all over the world are expected. ‘What The Hack’ is appealing the decision.

What The Hack is scheduled to take place near Boxtel, a village near Den Bosch in the south of The Netherlands. The mayor of Boxtel, J.A.M. van Homelen, cites “fear of disturbances of law and order and danger to public safety”. This is noteworthy because the previous editions of the event saw no incidents of any kind – neither at the event itself nor on the Internet.

Organiser Rop Gonggrijp, co-founder of the first Dutch Internet provider XS4ALL and former editor-in-chief of the 1980’s hacker magazine ‘Hack-Tic’ assumes the problem boils down to a misunderstanding: “The mayor seems to have a bit of an awkward perception of what we, the hackers, are going to be doing there. Yes, we think it’s important that bad computer security is exposed. But computer break-ins are such a side issue for us. These are grown-up hackers: The participants that do deal with computer security issues have been working in the computer security industry for years.”

During their 16-year tradition, the events have been turning points for Internet culture. In 1989, the notion of ‘computer networking for the people’ was introduced into Europe, laying the foundation for an ideology which sprouted one of Europe’s first ISPs: XS4ALL. ‘De Digitale Stad’, the famous Amsterdam Digital City project, was conceived at the 1993 edition of the event. In 1997, visitors at the event used a legal loophole to distribute an exported copy of the PGP encryption program, forcing the US government to change its policies regarding the export of strong encryption algorithms. The events have inspired a series of similar events in Germany, the USA and many other countries.

What The Hack will feature lectures on the fight against software patents in Europe, discussions on how to use wireless technologies to get Internet into the hands of more people in developing countries, presentations that demonstrate various problems regarding biometric identification, news from the world of Open Source software and more.

The letters

History of XS4ALL

Wired news about the second event: HIP 1997,1284,5918,00.html

New York Times about the first event: HEU 1993

Le Monde about the PGP release during HIP 1997

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