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[liberationtech] Please help us promote Tor and online anonymity

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Fri May 27 15:30:53 PDT 2011

It's also important to remember that there are efforts in otherwise
"liberated" countries that are sustained by political anonymity.  When I was
execdir of Tor, I got to speak to many people in the US who used Tor to
maintain freedom of speech in the face of social, political, or corporate
threats.  Some examples include:

o victims of family abuse who did not feel safe advocating for reform under
their family name
o a labor activist in a "company town" who advocated for labor rights, and
feared for her safety
o a lawyer in a prominent firm who wanted to be able to blog regarding local
politics (nothing confidential, just his personal insights on the system)
and knew that regardless of his politics, he would alienate half his clients
-- and by extension all of his partners -- if his blogging were traced to
his identity.

These issues -- the freedom of the injured to raise consciousness without
personal and traumatic repercussions; the right of labor to organize; the
right to political speech when social/political pressures could come to bear
-- are all quiet bulwarks of human rights and freedoms in a "liberated"
society.  We might not notice them except when they tragically fail, but
their smooth and silent continuity is like groundwater to the taproot of our

It's particularly poignant to me that a person should be barred from
political expression due to pressure from their professional role.  I often
wonder how much better, for example, our military, law enforcement, or our
public schools might be if the daily witnesses to the work were not
constrained from comment by professional pressures.

As "citizen journalism" becomes more and more of the voice of commentary on
society, the inability of the individual to separate professional and family
identity from their voice as a Jeffersonian citizen has a larger influence.
If only people without concern for family and profession feel free to speak,
aren't we cutting off many kinder hearts and greater minds from emerging

We tend to focus on China, MENA, Burma, and various crisis zones.  But
everywhere, institutions of freedom and human rights are fragile.  It is no
criticism of the US or EU or any of the "free world" to say that they need
the tools of liberation and defense against tyranny as a constant diet.
Civil liberties never get to go into the "assumed" category.

I encourage everyone to support EFF's campaign to support Tor use, not only
because I used to work with the project.  I worked for the project because
my own family's three generations of history in labor, civil rights, and
civil liberties -- and my own three decades of experience on the changing
Internet -- were what brought me to want to work with the project.

Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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