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[liberationtech] Not another Haystack right?

Michael Rogers m-- at
Tue Nov 29 10:53:11 PST 2011

Hi Brian,

Thanks for the questions - answers below.

On 29/11/11 18:22, Brian Conley wrote:
> 1. what are some use-cases you see for Briar? That is not clear from
> your site, other than "Briar is a secure news and discussion
> system designed to be used by journalists, activists and civil society
> groups in authoritarian countries. "
> How would they use it? What would they do with it? What are their goals,
> and for what reasons would they choose Briar over, say, secret Facebook
> groups run over TOR and HTTPS (there may be lots of problems with that
> example, its just an example that I think activists are likely to
> utilize, and I know of at least one case where a "secret facebook group"
> has been used to coordinate actions in an Arab country, though I doubt
> they were using any additional security in most cases)

I hope people will use Briar for anything they currently use blogs,
mailing lists, Facebook groups and private emails for. But since it's
inconvenient to adopt new tools, I'd imagine its main appeal will be to
users who feel they're at risk of surveillance or censorship.

When compared to Facebook, the advantages of Briar would include:
* Messages can be posted anonymously or pseudonymously
* Facebook and its partners don't have access to private messages
* Users in the same country don't need to "climb the wall" to
communicate with each other

Of course, there are disadvantages too - not least of which is that
Facebook can be accessed from any computer with a browser.

> With regard to its use by journalists especially, how will sources be
> able to be identified? Although you may not want people to know that
> Brian Joel Conley who lives in Portland OR, etc said X, Y, and Z, a
> journalist will need to know that X, Y, and Z were all said by the same
> source, among other needs.

If someone needs to prove that two or more messages come from the same
source, she can sign those messages with a pseudonym. The pseudonym
doesn't need to be connected to her real identity in any way, and she
can use multiple pseudonyms without anyone, including her trusted
contacts, being certain that those pseudonyms belong to her.

If someone needs to confirm that a pseudonym belongs to a specific
individual, she has to meet that individual face-to-face. Briar has
nothing equivalent to PGP's web of trust that could be used to attest
that "key X belongs to person Y according to person Z".

> 2. who is funding your project? Are you being public about this? If not,
> it raises some concerns for the validity and viability of the project,
> though it may also be understandable given the subject matter. If it's
> not being funded by the Broadcast Board of Governors already, and you're
> willing to consider USG funding, let me know and I'm happy to put you in
> touch with some folks who may be able to assist.

Thanks, that would be fantastic! The project has previously been funded
by the Small Media Initiative but isn't currently receiving any funding.
If we do, we'll be transparent about it.


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