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Fennel Aurora Has Something to Hide

Jason Sattler

15.09.18 5 min. read

To commemorate F-Secure’s 30th year of innovation, we’re profiling 30 of our fellows from our more than 25 offices around the globe.

F-Secure Regional Lead Presales Consultant Fennel Aurora loves his job, but wishes it didn’t exist.

“In a normal decent society, we wouldn’t need a company like F-Secure,” he explains. “However, while we live in the world as it is, some degree of self-defense is needed from the criminals, the stalkers and harassment mobs, the surveillance state, the surveillance economy, and sometimes from your own family.”

This is why he thinks cyber security experts have the huge responsibility of minimizing the amount of time people have to spend worrying about cyber security.

“It is our job to reduce these costs to the minimum possible while providing tools and habits that are as simple, understandable, and effective as possible with the minimum disruption to people’s lives,” he says. “People should not have to spend their finite energy becoming experts in order to have relative safety, they should be able to live their lives as unencumbered and free as possible.”

This may sound idealistic but Fennel has always been someone who hopes for the best, even when he sees the worst.

“The web was invented when I was 9 years old, when F-Secure was 1 year old. However, I only started noticing it in my late teens. At the time, it filled me with a very naïve optimism. I was already very unhappy with the world I saw around me, and here was a tool that seemed like it would help to free us all from many of the injustices of our society.”

The possibilities he saw then resemble his dreams for society today.

“The possibilities to disrupt the ability of governments and law enforcement to control and spy, the possibilities of open data and a freely available library of human knowledge, the possibilities in finding accepting communities of people free from the violence and abuse of current society, and the possibilities of a life of creative flourishing outside the devil’s bargains and constant threats of abject poverty that come with most jobs.”

His hopes that democratizing knowledge by connecting everyone and everything could rectify the inequalities of society were destroyed by what he saw as the realities of the internet revolution.

“Almost every promise of the internet revolution has turned to dystopia. A few examples: instead of decentralization, the big surveillance economy companies are bigger, more powerful, more monopolistic, and more damaging; instead of community, social media giants reap largely tax-free profits from tracking their users, while scaling targeted abuse, and leaving our societies to pay; instead of a civil rights revolution, we have history’s most pervasive surveillance states; and on and on.”

This is why he doesn’t buy the argument that you only need to worry about online tracking if you have something to hide.

“I have something to hide: I wear clothes every day. I hide my bank cards. I protect my passwords. I don’t tell everyone I meet every thought I have. Some thoughts, I won’t tell to anyone ever. Some things are embarrassing, I’m ashamed of many things I have done, said, and thought, and some things are simply none of anybody’s business.”

And though technology itself doesn’t inspire him the way it does for many F-Secure fellows, it does drive him to put his heart and soul into his work. And though he feels fear and anger about how innovations can be used to reduce freedom, he finds joy in helping F-Secure customers having to worry less about the threats they face.

“Honestly, there is very little about this work that I don’t enjoy – I even enjoy wading through the hundreds of emails,” he said. “I get to work with and learn from a wide variety great people, in a flexible and respectful work environment, working on things that are both interesting and that are helping to protect people. I have some of the most fun giving presentations, debugging my Python scripts, reading about the cool work others are doing, and with all different kinds of creative writing.”

That doesn’t mean his feels F-Secure or anyone anywhere is perfect—it just means he’s glad to work somewhere where “values are taken as given, and people actively fight to apply them, where you don’t have waste time repeatedly dealing with bad faith arguments.”

“F-Secure is very unusual in the IT and security world in our focus on privacy and active un-coerced consent,” he said. “It is something that clearly comes from the values of F-Secure’s founders and from some of the original people who remain.”

After thirty years of protecting people from threats they shouldn’t have to face, he doesn’t see those values fading.

“It is something that I can see every day in people and processes throughout the company, in the discussions that we have, in the decisions that are made, in the focus of our products, and even in the features that we categorically refuse to develop.”

Living his values helps Fennel remain the “same naïve optimist” he always was, looking and working for a better world or even a paradise built with of same materials that have been used to limit humanity.

“And yet I do remain that same naïve optimist I always was – yes, we are living in hell, and probably that won’t change in any significant way during my lifetime, but we have all around us (and we are creating new ones every day) all the raw materials to be living in a paradise for all. A world where anyone would willingly take John Rawl’s bet, and be randomly switched at birth into the life of someone else, anywhere in the world, with no second chance. That possibility is what inspires me.”

Check out Fennel’s blog posts here.

Check out our open positions if you want to join Fennel and the hundreds of other great fellows fighting to keep internet users safe from online threats.

Jason Sattler

15.09.18 5 min. read

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