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[liberationtech] FW: [TrumanScholars] question for lawyers, middle east, security folks about outgoing email

Megan Reif reifmegan at live.com
Wed Jun 19 13:51:26 PDT 2013


Dear Liberation Tech List Members,
As Yosem Companys suggested in the below message, I am hoping members of this list might be able to provide some guidance on recent revelations, both of the sale of surveillance technology by US companies to governments in Bahrain, Malaysia, and elsewhere to monitor their citizens, as well as the NSA surveillance of phones and social media. 
I am working with many scholars and practitioners in the Middle East, and know a good deal about the situation and risks (perceived or actual) to scholars in Algeria, but I am less familar with other parts of the region. 
I would be grateful for any insights on recent changes in the risks scholars in the region might face in (1) receiving messages about a democracy project and/or from foreigners in the US and Europe (Sweden); and/or (2) participating in the project as country experts (whose identities are kept confidential), and particular thoughts about the question I pose in the message below this one about how much information to include in correspondence about confidentiality, information security, etc. 
We have already had difficulty finding people to cover the Gulf, and I worry that it will now get worse. It isn't hard to find pro-democracy activists do work on these things, but we want scholars representing all tendencies and not only the 'usual suspects' who are already on the radar screen of their regimes. 
We prefer to have resident nationals do the coding (junior scholars in the social sciences and practitioners), but if citizens of neighboring countries or people who have left the country in the past 2-3 years would be an important alternative. We also invite experts on the countries to participate as coders in many cases.
If you or people you know might be interested in serving as a country expert, please send me a message and I can send the formal recruitment call for applicants that you can forward to your networks. 
Fore more on the project, see the website below.
Thanks and best wishes,Megan Reif
Project Manager, Middle East and North Africa/Election Fraud and ViolenceVarieties of Democracy Project (Staffan I. Lindberg, Michael Coppedge, John Gerring, Principal Investigators)v-dem.netmer at v-dem.net
Assistant Professor of Political Science and International StudiesDepartment of Political ScienceUniversity of Colorado Denver 
From: companys at stanford.edu
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2013 22:05:22 -0700
Subject: Re: [TrumanScholars] question for lawyers, middle east, security folks about outgoing email
To: reifmegan at live.com

You should post the message at "Liberation Technologies" <liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu>.  



On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 8:31 PM, Megan Reif <reifmegan at live.com> wrote:






Hi Everyone, 

I have a question about email footers about confidentiality/security of email.

 I’m part of an international project I’ve mentioned here before that has hundreds of country managers, coordinators, and experts coding several hundred democracy indicators dating back to 1800 for every country in the world. As you can imagine, those who participate from the Middle East and other regions with less-than-democratic regimes and/or associated with conflict and terrorism have very real and warranted fears of surveillance by their own governments, compounded now by the NSA revelations, which probably only confirm long-held suspicions and conspiracy theories. 

 In corresponding with people from the Middle East, I have found that people do not worry too much about receiving email about the project, but responding or participating can be sensitive. 

 We have a secure website with confidential communications, and avoid emailing project documents and other material that identifies people. Participants go to a secure website to do the coding, and those who are managing coders have another secure site where they can put names of experts and have the recruiting messages emanate from our team in Sweden rather than the country manager.

 That probably sounds a bit confusing.

 I’m writing because I see a lot of email from consulting, government, and law firms with a confidentiality statement on the bottom of the message about security, and I’m wondering if it is worth composing something similar in all of our outgoing messages, or whether such messages mean nothing. Are they primarily for legal liability purposes? I wonder if participants who see a message like that might become more concerned. For example, in the Middle East, informed consent statements requiring signature just arouse more suspicion and fears of surveillance, so IRBs usually issue waivers to allow verbal consent in research. 

 Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated!

 Best,

Megan Reif (WY ’95)
 

 




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