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[liberationtech] RiseUp

elijah elijah at
Tue Oct 15 15:47:15 PDT 2013

On 10/15/2013 03:07 PM, Yosem Companys wrote:

> If you have any thoughts about Riseup, whether
> security/privacy-related or otherwise, I'd love to hear them.

I think I am the only person from the Riseup collective who is
subscribed to liberationtech, so I will reply, although what follows is
not an official position or response from the collective.

We started when it was impossible to get even simple IMAP service that
was affordable. Very early on, it became apparent that one of the
primary issue facing our constituency (social justice activists) was the
rapid rise in abusive surveillance by states and corporations.

Riseup does the best it can with antiquated 20th century technology.
Without getting into any details, we do the best that can be done,
particularly when both sender and recipient are using email from one of
service providers we have special encrypted transport arrangements with.
Admittedly, the best we can do is not that great. And, of course, our
webmail offering is laughably horrible.

Riseup is not really a "US email provider". The great majority of our
users live outside the United States, and email is just one of many
services we provide.

There has been much discussion on the internets about the fact that
Riseup is located in the US, and what possible country would provide the
best "jurisdictional arbitrage". Before the Lavabit case, the US
actually looked pretty good: servers in the US are not required to
retain any customer data or logs whatsoever. The prospect of some shady
legal justification for requiring a provider to supply the government
with their private TLS keys seems to upend everything I have read or
been told about US jurisprudence. Unfortunately, no consensus has
emerged regarding any place better than the US for servers, despite
notable bombast the the contrary.

As a co-founder of Riseup, my personal goal at the moment is to destroy
Riseup as we know it, and replace it with something that is based on
21st century technology [1]. My hope is that this transition can happen
smoothly, without undo hardship on the users.

As evidence by the recent traffic on this list, many people are loudly
proclaiming that email can never be secure and it must be abandoned. I
have already written why I feel that this is both incredibly
irresponsible and technically false. There is an important distinction
between mass surveillance and being individually targeted by the NSA.
The former is an existential threat to democracy and the latter is
extremely difficult to protect against.

It is, however, entirely possible to layer a very high degree of
confidentially, integrity, authentication, and un-mappability onto email
if we allow for opportunistic upgrades to enhanced protocols. For
example, we should be able to achieve email with asynchronous forward
secrecy that is also protected against meta-data analysis (even from a
compromised provider), but it is going to take work (and money) to get
there. Yes, in the long run, we should all just run pond [2], but in the
long run we are all dead.



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