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[liberationtech] Haystack and informed consent—A legal/philosophical response to Jacob's concenrs

Christian Fromme kaner at
Sat Sep 11 12:29:29 PDT 2010

Hello Babak,

On Sat, Sep 11, 2010 at 4:45 PM, Babak Siavoshy
<babak at> wrote:

> My answer: “The level of acceptable risk to a BETA tester of Haystack is
> determined by the tester’s informed consent.”  It is the tester, and not a
> third party, who decides the acceptable risk threshold.  If the risks, and
> the degree to which the risks are unknown, are properly disclosed in easy to
> understand, non-technical terms, then the tester’s act of consenting to the
> risk ends the moral inquiry.

I am saddened by how lightly you seem to take risking people's lifes
in Iran. The claims that Haystack pushes create a position that is
untenable and absolutely par the course for non-technical people to
believe. This really is not a technical or philosophical debate. We're
talking about putting real people's life at risk. I'm sure you know
this somewhere back in your mind. Maybe you should imagine from now on
that you're arming your own mother or brother with this software. If
you really care about the people in Iran, stop using them as guinea
pigs for your beta-software. There are thousands of other ways to
verify it is working from inside Iran.

Your software makes technical claims that you are not able to evaluate
yourself and it makes you all look like frauds. The people in Iran are
trusting you but you and your team are simply not telling the truth to
the testers, the global media or to this list. Your users are not
technical themselves and therefore *cannot* estimate the risk they're
putting themselves into, "informed" or not.

The fact that Austin was able to turn off Haystack speaks volumes to
the dangerous architecture you are helping to promote with your


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