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[liberationtech] archives public

Greg Norcie greg at
Sat Aug 11 16:03:49 PDT 2012

There is what should be, and there is reality.

Any mailing list that allows anyone to subscribe is effectively public -
some malicious actor will always siphon off posts, regardless of laws,
list policies, or basic social norms.

Making claims that a list is "private" is dangerous and gives a false
sense of security IMHO.

I say we keep the list as it is - no automated archive. And if there is
a technical measure to indicate to ethical bots not to archive, we set
that up. But I feel strongly that we should _not_ make any claims that
the list is private. We should state something like "While LibTech
attempts to limit crawling by robots, this list is open to anyone, and
thus, is for all intents and purposes, public."
Greg Norcie (greg at
GPG key: 0x1B873635

On 8/11/12 3:58 PM, André Rebentisch wrote:
> Am 10.08.2012 06:40, schrieb Brian Conley:
>> I agree with you generally Jillian, but perhaps the list guidelines
>> should be changed to simply make the archives public?
> I respectfully disagree, I experienced it as dangerous to have open ML
> archives. In Germany I would clearly advise list admins against unless
> it is a newsletter. I have been through this.
> a) case of notice&takedown action: Most list admins have no process how
> to delete individual posts from the archives. If you don't respond in
> time you get into trouble. You never get enough time to respond when
> your opponents are malicious.
> b) several emails per year from individuals kindly asking you to remove
> posts from the archives of an inactive list you didn't even know.
> c) google indexing, which promotes a) and b) cases
> A  ML usually implies an expectation about the audience and a customary
> agreement how to share submissions. If you subscribe to a mailing list
> w/o open archives your are not supposed to make them available.
> Here an example: RMS once had a discussion with Zimbabwe supporters on
> an IGF internet governance list where he expressed quite frank and
> opinionated views about the nature of the Mugabe "government". Because
> it was an open list with open archives (but limited subscribers) the
> conversation ended up indexed by Google. RMS did not bother that he
> endangered his African discussion partners by inciting them to answer
> his flame bait. Did participants to a ML gave their prior consent to
> leave a totalitarian trace? Google indexing makes the discussion
> partners uneven, because (email surveillance aside) certain parties
> cannot express their views within the group.
> Google indexing of open archive ML leaves a trace that anyone without
> advanced knowledge, access or technology could exploit.  You type the
> email of a student from Zimbabwe and you find a discussion where he
> responds to a critic of the Mugabe government. Not relevant for us, we
> enjoy free speech, but it may become quite dangerous for this person, in
> particular, if the nature of the regime was correctly described. I am
> disgusted by the "information wants to be free" cynicism in these scenarios.
> Best,
> André
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