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[liberationtech] Fwd: Haystack

Patrick Meier (iRevolution) patrick at irevolution.net
Thu Aug 19 14:42:23 PDT 2010


I'm very much on the same page as you, Gabe, many thanks for your
balanced commentary.

One proposal: this has largely been a one-sided "debate" so if we
could invite Austin and/or his team members to chime in we might have
a more balanced and informative conversation. They may have good
reasons right now not to go open source, or they may not. But given
the confrontational language expressed by some in this discussion, I
wouldn't feel particularly interested to chime in if I were the
Haystack team.

All best,
Patrick




On Thursday, August 19, 2010, Gabe Gossett <Gabe.Gossett at wwu.edu> wrote:
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> “How many of the people known to have been arrested or
> silenced were using, or thought they were using, some kind of 'safe' technology
> to subvert both technological blockades and national laws? Until we know that,
> should we be prescribing these cures to patients we've never met and can't
> watch over?”
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> At the risk of going into a similar debate that took place on
> this listserv within the last year . . .
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> Is there any way to know how many people have been arrested or
> silenced when using a “safe” technology?  Not really.   No doubt it
> has  happened many times.  But I don’t see why that would mean these
> technologies shouldn’t be developed and distributed by Westerners in safe
> societies with access to the means to do so.  There is a long history of cat
> and mouse government information blockade circumvention that predates computers.
> In every instance that circumvention information circuit involved unknown degrees
> of risk.
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> As long as the developers are honest about the capabilities of
> their applications, and the users have as good an understanding of the risks as
> is possible, I don’t see a problem.  I’m speaking on a theoretical
> level here, not about the implementation of any one technology.  Haystack may have
> inflated claims about its capabilities and lacks clarity on what they are
> offering (if anything at all), and that is wrong.  But, Haystack aside, if we
> waited until we knew for certain whether a technology was entirely safe from
> government prying eyes or not we would just do nothing.  If any circumvention
> technology developer is going around claiming that they have developed an
> entirely safe technology, that is wrong.  I have a problem, though, with implicitly
> assuming that users in repressive countries are too naïve to weigh the risks of
> trying to get around government barriers.  I see that implication in the
> statement above, though perhaps that was not intentional.
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> I think that there is generally a good point  in that statement,
> but it only goes so far.  Any user of these technologies is probably already putting
> themselves at risk with their government.  Just having a face to face conversation
> with the wrong person, after all, will get you in trouble.  So if a safe
> Westerner thinks they can develop something that might give people in these
> countries an edge against a government, then by all means let them do it and feel
> good about it.
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> -Gabe
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> From:
> liberationtech-bounces at lists.stanford.edu
> [mailto:liberationtech-bounces at lists.stanford.edu] On Behalf Of Jim
> Youll
> Sent: Thursday, August 19, 2010 10:32 AM
> To: Mahmood Enayat
> Cc: Liberation Technologies
> Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Fwd: Haystack
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> On Aug 19, 2010, at 6:42 AM, Mahmood Enayat wrote:
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> The big players of
> circumvention solutions, which have received less attention, are all
> available here: www.sesawe.net <http://www.sesawe.net/> ,
> Why Haystack is not available online like them?
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> Cat and mouse can be played, yes.
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> But this technology is looking more and more like merely a
> way for privileged, warm, well-fed, free, safe Westerners to feel good about
> themselves while putting already at-risk populations at even greater risk of
> trouble.
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> Laws, guns, and prisons trump technological finesse. Period.
> This is not negotiable.
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> Keep in mind that US companies providing equipment to
> Internet providers are also providing access and monitoring capabilities in
> that equipment... at full OC3 speeds...
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> How many of the people known to have been arrested or
> silenced were using, or thought they were using, some kind of 'safe' technology
> to subvert both technological blockades and national laws? Until we know that,
> should we be prescribing these cures to patients we've never met and can't
> watch over?
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> 2002:
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> "...But Chinese surfers often use proxy servers -
> websites abroad that let surfers reach blocked sites - to evade the Great Red
> Firewall. Such techniques are routinely posted online or exchanged in chat
> rooms. But China's 45 million internet users face considerable penalties
> if they are found looking at banned sites. According to human rights
> activists, dozens of people have been arrested for their online activities on
> subversion charges."
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>             - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/2234154.stm
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> 2006:
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> ... Those attempting to access these banned sites are
> automatically reported to the Public Security Bureau. Internet police in cities
> such as Xi'an and Chongqing can reportedly trace the activities of the
> users without their knowledge and monitor their online activities by various
> technical means."
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>             - http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20060201001
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> 2008:
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> "...Around 30 journalists were known to be in prison
> and at least 50 individuals were in prison for posting their views on the
> internet. People were often punished simply for accessing banned websites"
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>             - http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/china/report-2008
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> 2010:
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> "... The ministry of public security said 5,394
> people had been arrested and that over 9,000 websites had been deleted for
> having pornographic content. The ministry did not say how many people had
> subsequently been put on trial. The authorities released the figures with
> a warning that its policing of the internet would intensify in 2010 in order to
> preserve 'state security'. China maintains strict censorship of the internet
> in order to make sure that unhealthy content, including criticism of the
> Communist Party, does not reach a wide audience."
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>             -  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/6921568/China-arrests-5000-for-internet-pornography-offences.html>
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-- 
Patrick

----
Director of Crisis Mapping
and Strategic Partnerships
http://www.Ushahidi.com

Consultant & PhD Candidate
The Fletcher School at Tufts University
http://fletcher.tufts.edu

Professional Blogger
http://www.iRevolution.net < --- blog



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