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[liberationtech] Not another Haystack right?

Jillian C. York jilliancyork at gmail.com
Tue Nov 29 11:34:38 PST 2011


Different name, same problem, and in fact, often worse.  I think Internews
has somehow managed to be the exception, for two reasons: a) their projects
seem to be well-managed (and I give credit here to their excellent and
diverse staff) and b) they're simply not well-known, whereas NED and NDI
are regularly referred to in the region as projects of the CIA.  Freedom
House's reports enjoy a certain amount of respect (imho, because they're
truly fair in most cases) but most activists I know avoid their trainings
like the plague.

Furthermore, I would say that some of those orgs are actually doing a
rather terrible job, period. NDI's absurd "Aswat" project, for example, was
bound for failure from the beginning - what business does a USG-funded
agency have in imposing a blogging network on a region where an excellent
blogging network already exists?

Yosem (your email came in whilst I was typing) - does such research exist
for the MENA region?  If not, I would suspect it wouldn't apply in these
cases.  The perspective of which I speak is extremely widespread.

-Jillian

On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 11:29 AM, Brian Conley <brianc at smallworldnews.tv>wrote:

> Right, exactly so. USG funding may make the tool both unviable and invalid
> for certain use cases.
>
> What's your take on funding from secondary sources, such as NED, NDI,
> Freedom House, Internews, who may receive the funding from the USG and then
> apply it to subcontracted projects?
>
>
> On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 11:21 AM, Jillian C. York <jilliancyork at gmail.com>wrote:
>
>> Okay, whew.  I'm sure everyone saw the tweets from Syria following CNN's
>> article about Psiphon (which was inaccurate in a few ways anyhow) -
>> Psiphon, in my opinion, is a perfectly good *circumvention* tool (as
>> opposed to all of the overblown attributes it was given by CNN) but the
>> mention of the State Department in the article marked the tool immediately
>> invalid in the eyes of most of the Syrians I know.  Something to think
>> about.
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 11:18 AM, Brian Conley <brianc at smallworldnews.tv>wrote:
>>
>>> No no, I think not being public about funding would make it less valid
>>> and viable. you must have misunderstood me!
>>>
>>> B
>>>
>>>
>>> On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 11:16 AM, Jillian C. York <
>>> jilliancyork at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> I'm desperately curious as to why anyone thinks that USG funding makes
>>>> something somehow more valid in the eyes of the tool's recipients/users.
>>>> "Viability" perhaps, but validity?  Surely you don't believe that.
>>>>
>>>> On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 10:53 AM, Michael Rogers <m-- at gmx.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> 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.
>>>>>
>>>>> Cheers,
>>>>> Michael
>>>>>
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>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> jilliancyork.com | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244 | google
>>>> voice: +1-415-562-JILL
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Brian Conley
>>>
>>> Director, Small World News
>>>
>>> http://smallworldnews.tv
>>>
>>> m: 646.285.2046
>>>
>>> Skype: brianjoelconley
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> jilliancyork.com | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244 | google voice:
>> +1-415-562-JILL
>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>
> --
>
>
>
> Brian Conley
>
> Director, Small World News
>
> http://smallworldnews.tv
>
> m: 646.285.2046
>
> Skype: brianjoelconley
>
>


-- 
jilliancyork.com | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244 | google voice:
+1-415-562-JILL
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