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[liberationtech] What should the "liberation tech" response be to ISIS-related recruiting online?

Sean Lynch seanl at literati.org
Wed Jul 1 11:00:08 PDT 2015


On Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 6:53 AM Steven Clift <clift at e-democracy.org> wrote:

> Any reactions to this NYTimes article?
>
> ISIS and the Lonely Young American
> By RUKMINI CALLIMACHIJUNE 27, 2015
>
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/world/americas/isis-online-recruiting-american.html?_r=0
>
> What responsibilities emerge and how do they balance with freedoms and
> rights we aspire to see online being used essentially for very bad
> things.
>
>
I don't think it's possible to simultaneously enable people to exercise
freedom of speech on the Internet while preventing the use of the net for
things we don't agree with. Recruiting for ISIS is just speech, and any
tools that would enable governments to stop that would also enable them to
stop other kinds of speech they find inconvenient.

But ISIS recruiting is sort of a softball question. How about things where
the speech itself is harmful, like kiddie porn, dox, etc? How do we enable
governments to stop those without also enabling them to stop other kinds of
communication they find inconvenient? I have not yet been able to think of
a way, and I'm not even sure it's possible. At least for kiddie porn you
could theoretically go after the production, but for dox? You can get
search engines to take down links, but you cannot stop determined people
from finding them. Of course, a lot of the damage from dox, like with
revenge porn, comes from their easily accessible nature, so maybe that's
sufficient? So maybe for all of these things there is either a physical
world crime you can go after or a way to mitigate the damage with
cooperation from major search engines.

The search engine response is also self-limiting: if a search engine is
sufficiently corrupted by regulators, people will just find smaller search
engines that are less apt to cooperate with authoritarian regimes.
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