Search Mailing List Archives
[liberationtech] Skype letter strategy
nadim at nadim.cc
Thu Jan 17 08:01:58 PST 2013
On Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 2:48 AM, Kate Krauss <katie at critpath.org> wrote:
> My activist group has organized a number of strategic sign-on letters over
> the years--and used them successfully to change various policies. Rarely,
> however, does such a letter alone do the trick--but it's good as part of a
> multi-pronged strategy.
> The key question is: What does Microsoft leadership care about? What does
> Steve Ballmer care about? Not what he should care about--what does he
> actually care about? The way to find out is to research the top priorities
> at Microsoft. Those will be your cards to play. For instance, they might
> not care that much about human rights issues but might care a lot about
> selling a particular product in China or rolling out Windows 8 in Europe.
They care about bad media coverage regarding Skype's human rights record,
> You may find that their public image is really important to them--they
> seem to be trying to be a little more cool. Microsoft gets a lot out of
> Skype's friendly brand and a lot of human rights credibility through its
> association with the Gates Foundation. Perhaps talking about these things
> would be useful.
> Global health advocates, who are surveilled on their computers using
> Microsoft software like Skype, are regularly rounded up and thrown into
> prison. This is at cross purposes from the admirable goals of the Gates
> Foundation. And Skype's friendly, accessible software can let this happen.
> There are a lot of options. You have to research and determine--not
> guess--what top people at Microsoft really care about for the company and
> use that as a guide. It might be something small but pivotal to Microsoft
> that activists can have great influence over (Windows 8 rolling out and
> being seen as cool in Europe, to make up an example).
> This should also guide how the issue is discussed to the press. If
> Microsoft cares about X, try to link the Skype problem to X when you talk
> to reporters and lay it at Microsoft's doorstep.
> Perhaps a list of prominent human rights groups might be good signers.
> Another list could be prominent infosec experts--this list is especially
> powerful here. Because if info sec experts say Skype isn't safe--well, it
> isn't safe for anybody. Another list could be potential, influential
> customers for Windows 8 (or whatever business concern is a top priority for
> You can have a separate list of each type of signer, with a heading, at
> the bottom of the letter. And then you can also open up the letter to
> everyone. Have a labeled section for human rights groups signers, a section
> for info sec expert signers (or whichever groups you decide on), and a
> section for regular people who don't fall into those categories so that
> they can show solidarity.
> But you need to find the lever that will move the policy. That is not
> every lever.
> I would also address the letter specifically to Steve Ballmer and cc the
> board of directors. This is about power, not whose job Skype specifically
> is. Do not diffuse responsibility. Make this specifically Steve Ballmer's
Hmm. What does the rest of libtech think about addressing the letter to
Ballmer? I'm not sure how to think about this quite frankly.
> Big petitions are a bit different from this--they require thousands of
> signatures, and can still fail. They are often just a way of building
> lists, or syphoning off pressure on a particular issue (as with these White
> House petitions, I fear). If they are gigantic and leveraged adeptly, they
> can be effective. Some groups,like Avaaz, are really great at getting
> results with them and are the experts in using this tactic.
I think we can achieve a similar effort by getting signatures from
laudable/influential/awesome organizations/individuals en-masse and
appealing to the press.
> Anyway, great leadership, Nadim!
Thank you! Glad I seem to be doing something useful.
> In solidarity,
> Kate Krauss
> Executive Director,
> AIDS Policy Project
> kate at aidspolicyproject.org
> Twitter: @aidspol
> On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM, Nadim Kobeissi <nadim at nadim.cc> wrote:
>> Dear Privacy Advocates and Internet Freedom Activists,
>> I call on you to review the following draft for our Open Letter to Skype
>> and present your name or the name of your organization as signatories:
>> The letter will be released soon. Feedback is also welcome.
>> Thank you,
>> Unsubscribe, change to digest, or change password at:
> Unsubscribe, change to digest, or change password at:
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the liberationtech