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[liberationtech] Jacob Appelbaum on Ultrasurf

Greg Norcie greg at
Thu Apr 26 11:09:41 PDT 2012


You state that "All kinds of products in the world don't work as
advertised, including Tor --they don't tell you how slow it is or other
problems easily Googled or that the entire project is at risk because
its main founder is under grand jury investigation."

Your statement that Jacob Appelbaum is a "main  Founder"Tor was
developed by Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson, and Paul Syverson.[1]

Tor was sponsored initially by the US Naval Research Laboratory, then
later by the EFF, then finally was run as part of a 501(c)(3) starting
in December 2006.

The Tor Project receives a substantial chunk of it's funding from the US
State Department.[2]

I understand that your intention is to insinuate that the Tor project is
somehow tainted by Appelbaum's politics.

I would think that if the US government viewed the Tor Project as a
radical organization, then the State Department would probably stop
sending them so much money :)

Open source vs closed source is pretty much a religious issue - neither
side is going to prove the other right. But when you fudge the few facts
that are present in this debate, it discredits your arguments,
especially those that cannot be proven with facts and figures.

-Greg Norcie


On 4/24/12 3:41 PM, Catherine Fitzpatrick wrote:
> Re: Message: 9
> Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2012 11:05:34 +1000
> From: nic <nic at <mailto:nic at>>
> To: liberationtech at
> <mailto:liberationtech at>
> Cc: Catherine Fitzpatrick <catfitz at <mailto:catfitz at>>
> Subject: Re: [liberationtech] Jacob Appelbaum's Ultrasurf Report
> Message-ID: <20120420110534.702df0cf at
> <mailto:20120420110534.702df0cf at>>
> Nic,
> You're using the usual tendentious methods that are common to arguments
> in favour of open source.
> You've decided in advance, in an edge-casing, exaggerating fashion, that
> Ultrasurf "harms" its users or is "broken" or "dangerous" because it
> doesn't work in the way you wished it did or think it should work. But
> these notions of "harm" and "broken" are themselves entirely subjective
> and manipulated.
> All kinds of products in the world don't work as advertised, including
> Tor --they don't tell you how slow it is or other problems easily
> Googled or that the entire project is at risk because its main founder
> is under grand jury investigation. But in a context where there are huge
> numbers of users, in a context of pluralism, and a context where users
> are more savvy than you think, the risk is spread more than you are
> prepared to believe.

> You can be called out that software is "broken" only if the very notion
> of "broken" -- which is a wildly common misused geeky notion applied to
> just about anything they don't like from Congress to email. Why the
> medical and food poisoning analogies when software is not a real toxin?
> The real consequences in the real world start and end with something
> like the toxic Chinese Communist Party, not the means by which people
> might circumvent it, and it's important to keep that in view. There's a
> tendency to convert these very real challenges of Communist state power
> into surrogate issues of Western corporations or users, and technologize
> them, in order to make it seem as if we can all "do something". Never
> forget that you are having a debate about surrogates of the real problem
> -- the Chinese Communist Party.
> You and others never confront the main issue here: that Chinese or
> Iranian or Russian ISPs already have their custermers' data for the most
> part, and people's identity is already "compromised". You continue to
> post a world in which everybody is like you, desirous of
> anonymity/pseudonynmity and maximum invisibility on the Internet. Not
> everyone has those cultural values or even needs those cultural values.
> Jacob Appelbaum obfuscated the dangers of Ultrasurf by completing
> ignoring these realities and hyping the danger to users, as you are
> doing. It doesn't matter if he did this under his own name, as there is
> a lot about the process of reverse-engineering and attacking the flaws
> in Ultrasurf that he is *not* telling us about.
> I've never seen any compelling information that people circumventing
> their oppressive governments are somehow naive about the dangers -- the
> activists know the risks and take them, the ordinary users, far more
> numerous, have just enough trust to make the challenge work, and don't
> need more.  I remember when the same gang of "Internet freedom" boosters
> were banging on the flawed program Haystack, which indeed manifested the
> usual tekkie hubris. But no one was ever able to demonstrate that a
> single dissident was harmed by its testing.
> Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
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