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[liberationtech] Silent Circle for human rights orgs..

Kate Krauss katie at critpath.org
Sun Feb 17 14:19:44 PST 2013


Hi,

I haven't been following this thread and do not know anything about "Silent
Circle." This is why I'm responding--I'm a human rights activist and I
don't know the backstory to this group, good or bad. I'm responding to a
number of off-putting aspects of the Silent Circle web site, most of which
might be easily fixed.

So to play the devil's advocate--why would a human rights group that is not
focused on infosec and doesn't already know these people be interested in
participating in this?

The bombastic text below seems to say, "Join us in our nebulous project. If
you are lucky to receive a free subscription (unclear why you would want
one) we will investigate you." The "bona fides" that are "established" here
are that somebody is very arrogant. The tone of the web site is very
cloak-and-dagger. Compare it to the Tor Project web site, which actually
can protect human rights activists: that web site is upbeat, generally
unpretentious, and the logo is a cartoon vegetable. It is publicly allied
with EFF, which has a great reputation. In contrast, the logo for this
company Silent Circle reminds me of "The Ring."

Also, in my experience--the risk, and so the investigation, would be on the
other foot--human rights groups would be investigating Silent Circle--the
biggest risk is for the human rights organization and its staff and
members. The Silent Circle web site makes a lot of promises and asks people
to take a lot of risks with their information and possibly their lives. And
when you go to "About us" they seem to be founded by US Navy Seal--which
raises questions that are not answered. A "melting pot" of talent is a
concern when one person is all it takes to endanger lives.

Some possible fixes: Friendlier, less pretentious content on the "human
rights" page (the all-black is a little goofy)--a specific person to
telephone or OTR instead of filling out this form to send to a stranger,
and the logos of endorsing organizations that people already trust. Does
the Tor Project endorse it?

Unfortunately for them, human rights groups supply--or at least endure--the
cloak and dagger. Their encryption software shouldn't.


Kate Krauss
AIDS Policy Project
(I also work with non-US, at-risk human rights activists)


On Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 2:55 PM, Ali-Reza Anghaie <ali at packetknife.com>wrote:

> I believe this is new from them and perhaps in response to libtech's
> ongoing discussions.
>
> https://silentcircle.com/web/human-rights/
>
> "*If you are a leader, executive or organizer within an active human
> rights group, which we can gather information on to establish bona fides,
> then please fill out the form below. We are interested in providing you
> with a limited number of free subscription packages for dissemination
> amongst your network in order to protect individual privacy and anonymity.
> We would like to build a relationship with you in order to best understand
> your constraints and requirements. We will use the information that you
> provide in this form to conduct open-source research upon your
> organization, its affiliates, your areas of activity and your open-source
> history.*"
>
> Cheers, -Ali
>
>
> --
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