WikiLeaks, Tor, and defender of privacy
BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARYWhen you’re as smart as Jacob Appelbaum, there’s no need to limit yourself to just one profession.
How about a web browser that improves privacy for every Internet user? Here’s the .
Jacob Appelbaum Overview ‧ read
There’s not much Appelbaum hasn’t done. He has been a spokesperson for WikiLeaks, worked for Greenpeace and, in September 2015, he began a PhD course at Eindhoven University of Technology.
Jacob Appelbaum is really, really smart and he’s an important defender of our Internet privacy and freedoms.
Appelbaum from an early age
Appelbaum’s mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, so his aunt took custody of him from the age of six. That didn’t work out and from age eight, he lived at a children’s home in Sonoma County, California.
Saved by the internet - saves the internet
Appelbaum’s father took custody of him two years later. But he still hadn’t found a stable home, as his dad was a heroin addict. Things finally got better for Appelbaum when a friend’s father introduced him to programming. With programming and hacking, he had found his true purpose.
In his own words, “The world was not a lost place. The Internet is the only reason I'm alive today.”
Iraq’s one-man internet task force
In 2003, at age 18, he already worked as a computer security expert for Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network. Two years later, Appelbaum took on a much more dangerous and selfless project - he traveled alone to Kurdistan, Iraq to set up satellite Internet connections in the region.
After Hurricane Katrina, Appelbaum also traveled to New Orleans , where he set up Wi-Fi hotspots in the poorest neighborhoods.
Appelbaum joins the Tor development team
Appelbaum would go on to join the Tor development team as a developer, advocate, and security researcher. An acronym of ‘the onion network,’ Tor is a web browser that enables anonymous Internet use by directing net traffic through a network of encrypted relays.
Appelbaum has said of Tor:
“Tor is part of an ecosystem of software that helps people regain and reclaim their autonomy… It runs, it is open and it is supported by a large community spread across all walks of life.”
WikiLeaks work makes Appelbaum a surveillance target
In January, 2011, it was revealed that the US Department of Justice forced Twitter to share user information about WikiLeaks members. As a key member of WikiLeaks, Appelbaum had become a target of the surveillance forces that he had worked so hard to expose.
Edward Snowden’s NSA leak confidant
Appelbaum appeared in person at the 2013 Chaos Communications Conference in Hamburg, Germany. He revealed to the world how the NSA’s powers are “even worse than your worst nightmares”, highlighting their ability to and steal data from offline computers.
Appelbaum in Berlin
In late 2015, Appelbaum began studying for his PhD under fellow security experts Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange. With people like that working together, who knows what they will come up with next?
An online privacy champion against all odds
He’s been at the forefront of some of the most significant online freedom stories of the past few years, from WikiLeaks to the NSA leaks - and he’s still in his early 30s. Whatever happens next, it’s sure to be enthralling.
Featured image: “Jacob Appelbaum at a talk at 30C3 in Hamburg (2013)” by Tobias Klenze is licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.