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[liberationtech] Dave Winer calls for a Web Trust

Gabe Gossett Gabe.Gossett at
Mon Dec 13 15:18:41 PST 2010

I'm a little unclear on point three.  Would this simply be a tool to publish content, a place where the content is published, or both?  I can't imagine that an organization like this would not have huge potential copyright issues.

Partially because of this I'm not certain that a centralized organization is necessarily the best answer either.  It could lead to one stop shopping for some governments wanting to stamp out inconvenient leaks.  A starfish approach with a decentralized organization seems more sustainable, especially in a future where there might be even more overt threats to information leaking organizations.  It would be easy to freeze assets in an endowment and go after foundation board members.

There may be some use in looking at existing digital repositories for ideas.  Many universities already run open access repositories through their libraries (examples here<>).  Many of them also treat users as customers without charging for service.


From: liberationtech-bounces at [mailto:liberationtech-bounces at] On Behalf Of Rohan Dixit
Sent: Monday, December 13, 2010 2:43 PM
To: Rebecca MacKinnon
Cc: liberationtech
Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Dave Winer calls for a Web Trust

I'm curious about 3.) It must cost money. Why does cost imply the "vendor is not responsible" for the content being published?

It is unclear to me what the improvement is on the actual Wikileaks site/s. At any rate, the point of control appears to be the DNS system, not which web domain or type of organization per se hosts the material.


On Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 5:19 PM, Rebecca MacKinnon <rebecca.mackinnon at<mailto:rebecca.mackinnon at>> wrote:
A Web Trust to publish and store our creative work

By Dave Winer on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 12:09 PM.

The discussion at this weekend's flash conf<> in NYC on WikiLeaks raised<> the question of where we can store our web writing and photos so that they are as safe as they possibly can be. Trusting corporations to manage this is obviously not a good idea. If this was theoretical before, it's now pragmatic, after Amazon cut off WikiLeaks.  Error! Filename not specified.<>

That suggests that we need a new kind of institution that is is part news organization, university, library and foundation -- that acts as a guarantor of best-possible freedom from corporate and government limitations. We already know some things about this organization, I believe. Error! Filename not specified.<>

These are just back-of-the-envelope scribbles. Consider this a discussion-starter for the next meetup. Error! Filename not specified.<>

1. It must be long-lived, like a university -- probably with an endowment, and a board of trustees, and operations limited to what's described below. It can't operate any other kind of business.  Error! Filename not specified.<>

2. It must create a least-common-denominator storage system that is accessible through HTTP. Everything must be done with open formats and protocols, meaning all components of its system are replaceable.  Error! Filename not specified.<>

3. It must cost money, so the user is a customer and is treated as one. This also allows the vendor to assume its own independence from the interests of the publisher who uses the system. The same way the operator of a printing press was not responsible for the words he or she printed on the paper. Error! Filename not specified.<>

4. Simplicity of the user experience is primary so it can be accessible to as many as possible, and so that technical people don't provide yet another filter for the free flow of ideas. Factor and re-factor for simplicity. Error! Filename not specified.<>

5. The trust must serve the bits exactly as they were published. No advertising.  Error! Filename not specified.<>

That's where I want to pick up the discussion. Error! Filename not specified.<>

Rebecca MacKinnon
Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Cell: +1-617-939-3493
E-mail: rebecca.mackinnon at<mailto:rebecca.mackinnon at>

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