DRAFT - DO NOT LINK (as of time of writing, this does not represent a consensual statement of the metalab)
please correct, clarify, reduce, compress
It has come to our attention that on Saturday, November 28th, the police of Malmoe committed an apparently unwarranted search in the location of the hackerspace Forskningsavdelningen.
Police sources claim that they acted on suspicion of preparation (sic!) to hacking and theft due to the fact that key copying machines and wifi equipment was expected and found on site. However, these tools are not per se illegal and also do not require illegal activities for operation. Far fetched? Well, sure, as we all know, martial arts and shooting exercises are preparation for murder, too. In fact, in other countries, such as germany, exist hobbyist sport clubs for lockpicking - members of which regularly engage in education of the public and deliver devestating demonstrations about insecurites of common locks. And by the way, a wifi antenna can only receive signals which are public by design anyway.
Why does this concern us? We are members of the Metalab, a hackerspace in Vienna - and as such a sister project of Forskningsavdelningen. Metalab is an organization that is privately financed as well as publicly subsidised and has been host to widely recognized talks, conferences, and other activities. Moreover, the Metalab has given birth to various commercial, civil, philanthropic and generally experimental social ventures of various forms. These kind of social and technological advances can only grow in certain environments, and the Metalab - like all hackerspaces - strives to provide such an environment. An environment which may seem uncommon or ominous to the uneducated or uninterested. An environment which usually bears harbour to technology which is not available to the common man. But after all, this is the whole point of a hackerspace, isn't it?
Hackerspaces enrich the cultural and technological scene of the area they are located in. Hackerspaces are places of information, discussion, experimentation and openness. They are the real world manifestations of a new paradigm, originated in the free, borderless and undiscriminating nature of the internet and its communication structures. Hackerspaces are places where freedom of opinion meets creativity.
One would certainly expect that it is in the public interest to foster this kind of organisation, as it is the case in Vienna and many other places around the world.
Not so in Malmoe. Not only were the actions of the Swedish police in violation of the civil rights of the club members, they also send the message that engaging in creative collaboration might put you in danger of being prosecuted - for mysterious reasons. Hackerspaces, being what they are, create potential for all of us. To put such organizations in random legal peril will eventually prove detrimental to a free society as a whole.
Thus, we hereby strongly object to the actions in question and expressly state solidarity with our friends in Malmoe. We request the responsible authorities to cease and desist from any further measures as well as to return all confiscated equipment immediately and to compensate Forskningsavdelningen for damages.
Additionally, we demand a public investigation into the true nature of this sting operation as well as against the agitators in charge to clarify whether or not they maliciously presented false reasoning to perform this operation against a private interest organisation without legal grounds.
We also request a statement of Austrian and Swedish authorities as to what legal insecurities organisations such as ours have to face in continuing our work.
A next to complete list of activities, visitors and press coverage in the metalab:
Some commercial ventures originating at the metalab:
For more information about hackerspaces, please see:
For more information about the metalab, please visit:
The Metalab is a non profit organisation located in Vienna, Austria and counts more than a hundred paying members.
Potentially "suspicous" organisations with long standing impact on society and technology:
This statement will be communicated to the media, the Austrian Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Swedish Department of Justice.