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[liberationtech] RiseUp

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at
Fri Oct 18 11:05:51 PDT 2013

Hello Sahar,

I am interested in the political economy of digital media and am author 
of a forthcoming book about Occupy and social media.

Alternative media and technologies are facing the challenge of acquiring 
resources for being run. I am wondering how at RiseUp you organized the 
necessary resources (working time, people, software development and 
upgrade, system administration etc) and what your experiences were with 
voluntary donations? I would be interested to hear how well the donation 
system works?

Thanks a lot.
Best wishes,
Christian Fuchs
Professor of Social Media
University of Westminster,
Communication and Media Research Institute,
Centre for Social Media Research,
c.fuchs at
+44 (0) 20 7911 5000 ext 67380

On 18/10/2013 19:53, Sahar Massachi wrote:
> As Elijah wrote, the point of riseup is to serve a specific
> constituency. The point is not to help the general public encrypt their
> email.
> On Oct 18, 2013 1:30 PM, "Jonathan Wilkes" <jancsika at
> <mailto:jancsika at>> wrote:
>     On 10/15/2013 06:47 PM, elijah wrote:
>         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.
>     The first thing you should do is remove the social contract from your
>     registration page.  It's creepy and (should be) completely at odds with
>     your privacy policy.  (That is, it should read "even _we_ can't ban you
>     from using our service to talk about the following things in confidence
>     with others...")
>     Furthermore, every single bullet point is ambiguous and would be
>     subject to a flame war if I posted them here.  That is, they are so
>     wide open that people could reasonably take an opposing view for
>     any or all of them, in good faith or bad.
>     Personally, I agree with Riseup's position on those bullet points
>     (assuming I understand them the same as you).  But I disagree
>     with requiring people to answer them if they want to try to be
>     safer when they use the internet.
>     Essentially, a requirement to click such a button is asking people to
>     lie to themselves in order to use your service.  Even the Pope and
>     the military have seen fit to stop making people do that.
>     Best,
>     Jonathan
>         -elijah
>         [1]
>         [2] https://pond.imperialviolet.__org/
>         <>
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