Stefan Mey is an IT journalist. He wrote the tone-setting Darknet book in the German-speaking world, which is now also available in Hungarian and South Korean. As a digital expert, he has given more than 50 interviews, for television, radio, print, online and in podcasts.

Since the beginning of his journalism career, he has critically examined the power relations in the digital world: who calls the shots economically, why, and what are the consequences? He not only describes the problems of the digital world, but also has answers at the ready. In lectures and workshops on “digital self-defence”, he explains how one can use simple tricks and programmes to undermine surveillance, data collection and internet censorship abroad and make cyberattacks more difficult. Mey has been observing the big IT corporations for years. But he is also an intimate connoisseur of the non-commercial “digital counter-world” of projects like Wikipedia, Firefox or WikiLeaks, which oppose the Silicon Valley logic of Google, Facebook & Co. with a free and non-commercial internet.

With razor-sharp analyses, clear language and catchy images, Stefan Mey also picks up people without previous IT knowledge. He makes them fit to understand the digital world. When talking about the digital world, he keeps it very much in line with the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer:

“Use common words and say uncommon things.”

Stefan Mey Lecture topics

  • The non-commercial digital world: How companies and hackers are working together for a more free internet

Beyond the Silicon Valley world of Google, Meta and Amazon, there is a cosmos of non-commercial digital projects. These include, for example, the messenger Signal, the Twitter alternative Mastodon, the Firefox browser, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and the Linux operating system family. What at first glance looks like a pure hacker world is in fact a harmonious coexistence of hackers and companies. Small and medium-sized enterprises and even large corporations collaborate via special open source business models and ensure that there are always tailor-made solutions for corporate purposes. How does this “digital counterworld” work? Who are the ten most important representatives? What role do companies play, and how can the various projects help break up the encrusted structures of the digital markets?

  • Who owns the net? On the economic and data power of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft

Half the infrastructure of the western internet belongs to just five IT corporations: Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. They dominate the market for operating systems, search engines, browsers, social networks, cloud service providers and app marketplaces, among other things. Not only is digital value creation concentrated there, but also the data of half of humanity. In business and private life, the internet can hardly be used without sales and data also ending up with the big five. What is their economic and data power based on? What all belongs to them, who owns the IT giants in turn, and how can we react politically or by changing our own ways?

  • Doing business in the dark: How and why “dark commerce” works

Online commerce has a brother in the darknet who likes to keep quiet. It is not shoes or books that are traded there, but party, relaxation and stimulant drugs. Dark commerce is similar to the legal e-commerce of Amazon, Zalando & Co. There are product policies, Black Friday discounts and advertising models on large marketplaces. All parties act anonymously. The trust necessary for business is ensured by a sophisticated system of user ratings. What do we know about these dark marketplaces? Is dark commerce leading to a digital disruption of the drug trade? How are the police investigating? And what does dark commerce tell us about the logic of online commerce?

  • Darknet: Drugs, weapons and politics in the digital underworld

The Darknet is a place full of contradictions. The technology was invented by the US military and is still mostly funded by the US government, but the infrastructure is provided by digital civil society, especially the German IT scene. The digital underworld is a retreat for illegal business and the most serious crimes, but also a shelter for opposition figures and whistleblowers who want to escape surveillance and undermine internet censorship. An adventure journey into the Darknet.

  • Digital self-defence: The ten most important tricks and programmes to protect your own data

No, you don’t have to be Edward Snowden to protect your own data at a high level. Digital self-defence” makes it possible to use simple tricks and programmes to thwart surveillance, data collection and industrial espionage, to make cyberattacks more difficult and to circumvent internet censorship abroad. A look into the toolbox of this easy-to-learn discipline: How can easy-to-remember passwords be created and managed? How do I set my internet browser to save data? How can dangerous e-mail spam be recognised? What are the benefits of anonymisation and encryption and how can these technologies be used? A clear handout summarises all the tips. (also possible as a one-day workshop)

  • Data slinger smartphone: What your mobile phone does with your data and how you can react to it

Smartphones are indispensable toys – but also brazen chatterboxes that shamelessly send professional and private data through the net: what we are working on, who we know, where we are and when, and what makes us tick in our private and political lives. Exactly two companies dictate the rules on smartphones: Google (with its Android operating system) and Apple (with iOS). The lecture takes a close look at the strange smartphone world with its opportunities and pitfalls. It is about good and bad apps, the power of operating systems and simple tricks with which you can put the smartphone’s data flows in check.

  • The colourful world of messengers: How good are WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram or Threema for professional and private communication?

Signal is considered a friendly alternative to the data octopus WhatsApp. The non-commercial messenger does a lot right. However, Signal does not fully live up to its legendary reputation as a cure-all against surveillance. The data runs through Amazon’s data centres. A chat profile is always linked to the phone number for all to see. Signal is also run by a wealthy patron and ex-WhatsApp founder. Technology journalist Stefan Mey analyses: What are the pros and cons of Signal? And to what extent are other messengers like WhatsApp, Threema, Wire, Telegram or Element suitable for professional and private communication?