Hackers are increasingly gaining access to national and international networks across Europe, but they're not driven by the same motivation as their US counterparts. "In Europe it's a lot more political, especially with the German hackers, they have a lot more of a political agenda. In Holland it's more anarchistic. You know hacking just for the sake of hacking," says Emmanuel Goldstein the editor of 2600 Magazine. "In the US you have all that - you have some political hackers, you have some anarchistic hackers, and you have a lot of kjds just being trendy as well."
One of the most active European hacking groups is FoeBuD, which is based in Bielefeld, Germany. It grew out of a 1980s art group called Art D'ameublement when the artists invited some hackers from the Chaos Computer Club in Hamburg to do an Installation with them. FoeBuD is a Cocktail of technology and creativity, mixed with a large helping of social conscience just for good measure.
"The most important thing as far as FoeBuD is concerned is that it's not a classic Computer club, like the Chaos Computer Club. It's more or less a club where Computer and Innovation meet," thinks Christian, one of FoeßuD's most active members.
"Many good ideas are formed here. You have people from very different sides of the society. Some do work in the former Yugoslavia - in the peace movement there - and some are pure technical hackers. I think this can be synthesized into something new, something very special."
FoeBuD also organises monthly public meetings that take place at the Bunker Ulmenvald jazz club. Each month a different Speaker is invited to give a speech and a variety of topics including encryption, German intelligence Services and networking are covered. Like CCC and Hack-Tic, FoeBuD also feels strongly about publicising Security Problems especially where personal data is involved. "It must be forbidden for someone to see personal data. You have many people who don't like this, the police or the German Secret Services don't like it. They want to get your name, know who you are and find out what you do," says Christian. "The Secret Service says hackers are dangerous and so it actively persecutes them. It's a real persecution because you can be put in prison or get high fines when it comes to court."
FoeBuD's activities and social conscience extends beyond the boundaries of Germany. One member of Foebud, Eric Bachman, went to the former Yugoslavia when the war started to help set up a bulletin board System in the war zone. Often there was no power or electricity and the phone lines were down, so the hackers had to push their skills to the limit to find a way to get the System up and running. The networks were eventually routed through the US and then via Bielefeld by video Conference lines and even now, petrol generators are often needed to keep the BBS on-line.
"In the former Yugoslavia, we have a very tense Situation between the parties at war, and the telephone lines between Serbia and Croatia have been cut so the citizens of one part can't communicate with the citizens of the other part," says Rene a FoeBuD member who's been active in Bosnia and Croatia. "People can't imagine that folk in places like Bosnia need bulletin boards - some people think they would be the last thing that they'd need - but they need them badly. They've got them now to organise the relief work and to organise things for refugees. They also use the System to put peace groups from the different parts of the county in touch with each other."
Of course, nobody knows about this because the newspapers are far more interested in how awful the Internet is, how it's spreading pornography, right-wing Propaganda, and Software piracy. 'Internet helps relief effort shock' obviously isn't an interesting headline for the majority of editors in the UK.