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[liberationtech] Deconstructing the security risks narrative of Haystack

Matt D. Harris mdh at sykotik.org
Sat Sep 18 05:22:43 PDT 2010


On Fri, 17 Sep 2010 12:23:56 -0700, Mehdi Yahyanejad
<yahyanejad at gmail.com> wrote:
> When I was following Evgeny Morozov's blog posts, once 
> he changed the narrative of "Austin Heap misled people" to "Haystack
> puts 
> people at risk", I exactly knew where he was going with this. The
> first 
> narrative would have been enough to take down Austin Heap but not 
> necessarily Haystack as an organization. Evgeny wanted to bring down 
> Haystack in a way that he could take the battle to the next step:
> going 
> after the State Department and other potential government players 
> (his latest article in Slate confirms my suspicion). I believe this
> can 
> be very damaging and would appeal to Evgeny to consider all the 
> intended or unintended consequences before moving further with this. 
> Going after the US government can scare away all sort government
>  players from touching circumvention tools projects and would damage 
> the level of funding for all circumvention tools. Of course, people 
> who created Haystack, particularly Austin Heap, and the hype around 
> it are primarily responsible for what has happened but I care less
>  about them or for that matter who gets the blame. I care about 
> what the damage would be to the fundings for circumvention tools 
> projects.

I believe that questioning the government on this is a good thing.  If
Haystack did receive substantial funding from any government
organization, that money came at the expense of some other project.  The
fact that Haystack was built on hype instead of substance may have only
come out to the greater public recently, but the big question seems to
be why would any entity - much less a bureaucratic state - dole out
funds to a project that lacked substance?  It's a waste of funds.  

The goal here should not be to goad any funding source into ceasing
funding, but to make them stop and think before they act, so that funds
are not wasted.  Clearly at this point, Haystack is unfinished and
likely never will be finished.  Any money poured into it was wasted. 
The goal here, the goal for questioning government involvement, should
be to force them to act more responsibly in the context of funding such
projects in the future.  I believe this is most likely Evgeny's goal,
and should be all of ours, too.  

Take care, Matt




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