Thursday, January 18, 2007

DWG case is over

So finally my case ended, since the only charge against me was a "fake number of credit card" used by a police officer on my site.

Here is how it sounds like:

QuickTime player is required.

I will provide the Council's final decision in a few words "as is":

The Council decides that, no charges shall be pressed against Dimitrios Fotiou, son of Lambros, resident of Athens at 9 Varika street for: : a) violation of articles 1, 2, 3 and 22 par. 4, 6 of L. 2472/1997 re "protection of person from the process of personal data" and b) attempt of fraud (sections 42 par. 1 and 386 par.1a of Crim. Code), actions which have been committed from him in Athens during the period from 12-12-2004 till 12-2-2005 and on 25-1-2005 respectively. To waive the no: 5/2005 order of the interrogator of the 27 regular division of Athens, by virtue of which have been imposed to the accused the restrictive terms and conditions of guaranteeing for an amount of Euro 3.000 and his appearance to the Police Station of his residence once within the first five months of every month. It orders the return of the sum of guarantee amounting to Euro 3.000 to the depositor, Lambros Fotiou, son of Fotios. It was decreed in Athens on March 30, 2006 and issued on 18-9-2006.

The President: Atnanassia Kakoussi
The clerk: Georgios Nomikos

Seen and certified
The reporting Judge: (sgd) Georgios Aktypis

You can download the .pdf file (scanned text from the official translation), including all charges in detail (pages 1-7) as well as the detailed Council's decision (pages 8-14).

English: | Greek:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Greek net.artist Dimitrios Fotiou was held under custody

According to Greek Mass Media, many important people in Greece --including politicians, judges, church and police officers, etc.-- are accused for corruption. Among other alegations, there are many denouncing them for getting paid to do "favours" and to provide several "services" to Greek citizens without following the legal procedures. Some of those favours refer to finding work in the civil service sector and transferring their children from one University to another (the last is illegal in Greece, except in special circumstances). For someone to find a job in Greece is very tricky, as "CV format" applications are not assessed as they should. Moreover, the huge availability of highly educated young Greeks (a major part of which are MSc and PhD holders) has caused job hunting to become very hard.

But here comes the traditional "Greek" solution, having its roots in the ages of Turkish domination, when masters did favors to good slaves. In a very similar way, VIPs in Greece (e.g. politicians who are in need of votes), or those who have money to pay, have many opportunities to acquire some benefits not accessible to ordinary mortals.

Dimitrios Fotiou is a sculptor who uses computers and the internet as a medium for his artwork; he has been participating in many online events and exhibitions. Following the practices of Tactical Media, he attempted to make a larger Greek audience more familiar whith (since such projects are not so common in Greece). He has chosen a Greek topic and he used Greek language. He created a net.Art website of a virtual company offering all the illegal services mentioned above at moderate prices. The company also provided to its potential "customers" the ability to order its "services" online.

His aim was to satirize the political and social situation, as well as convey a critical comment to all Greeks who are desperately looking for a job in the public sector of Greece. The site's name is DWG Dirty Works Greece and its address is <>. The work was signed by the artist (bottom right corner there was a link to a disclaimer) and also there was a link pointing to his personal website <> where he was explaining the concept of his artwork, and providing other exambles of similar projects. The site was advertised in mailing lists and, within a two months period, Greeks living all over the planet began to post its address and have fun with the site.

Nevertheless, the website is no longer publicly availble.

For many days newspapers were writing for the biggest electronic crime of the century in Greece. Irresponsible journalists who had first discovered the new kind of crime were boasting the "discovery" of a secret company working online, while the artist's name was not mentioned at all, not even his explanations about his project. As a matter of fact, a good crime sells more than a funny website in the Mass Media market, but the result of all that "campaign" was that Dimitrios Fotiou was arrested by the Greek police and was charged for fraud (a felony under Greek low), as well as for illegally collecting visitos's private sensitive data. It seems, in fact, that nobody even thought to check the site's online "order form", as it was so easy to find out that it was completely inactive and that data any visitor could submit on this website where never leaving the his computer to be stored on a server.

Dimitrios Fotiou stayed three days in custody, while there was no computer specialist or programmer available to examine the form or even have a look at the website's logs. The police has not even asked the hosting provider to find out whether there has ever been in place an active dynamic data processing page or not. Finally. the Greek judicial authorities have decided to let him free, imposing a bail of 3.000 Euros and the obligation to appear to police once per month.

Many questions are rising from the above fact for the political and social situation in Greece. Were they all unable to examine the website's code or was the concept so annoying? Since simple internet users have many times sent e-mails to D. Fotiou to congratulate him for his web project, including computer programmers who had easily found that the order form was not active, how could Greek police oversee this fact? Or maybe the spectacular "Greek" reality was revealed once more, in this case online? Can humour be penalized as a felony? What about intellectual property and human rights? What's going on with irresponsible journalism in Greece? While no laws are yet enacted to deal wit electronic crime in Greece, how can artists be taken in custody and asked to cope with a huge bureaucracy consisting of people who are not even computer literate? Does Greece still belongs to Europe when, besides the Olympics showcase, which looked like an nice event in a shop window, the situa
tion still remains as it has ever been?

Anna Hatziyannaki
Dimitris Skoufis