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[liberationtech] Please help us promote Tor and online anonymity

Larry Diamond ldiamond at stanford.edu
Fri May 27 15:51:58 PDT 2011


Dear Shava (and all): 


Thank you for this eloquent and illuminating testimony to the universal importance of promoting free expression on the Internet, which sometimes means anonymous expression. We are very grateful for all these contributions. 

Larry Diamond 
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution & Freeman Spogli Institute 
Director, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law 
Peter E. Haas Faculty Co-Director, Haas Center for Public Service 
Stanford University 
Stanford, CA 94305-6055 
tel 650-724-6448 fax 650-723-1928 
ldiamond at stanford.edu, www.stanford.edu/~ldiamond 
http://cddrl.stanford.edu/ and http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/haas 



----- Original Message -----
From: "Shava Nerad" <shava23 at gmail.com> 
To: "Tom Zhang" <xzhang at google.com> 
Cc: liberationtech at mailman.stanford.edu, "rainey" <rainey at eff.org>, "Eva Galperin" <eva at eff.org> 
Sent: Friday, May 27, 2011 3:30:53 PM 
Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Please help us promote Tor and online anonymity 

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 democracy. 

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 discourse? 

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. 

yrs, 
Shava Nerad 
shava23 at gmail.com 

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