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Why Are We Waiting for the Cavalry to Ride In? (was Re: court trial against me - the outcome)

On Wednesday 14 November 2007 14:22:29 Mirko Thiesen wrote:
> I
> asked "What about a postal service that delivers i.e. a bomb or a blackmail
> letter? Do they help people committing crimes as well?" They said that
> these two things could not be compared as a postal service offers
> transportation services whereas I offer anonymization services.

First of all, well done and keep up the good work.

Secondly, your case is proof, if proof were needed, that Tor is still a 
project without a rock-solid layman's analogy. Every Tor server operator that 
ends up explaining Tor to a non-technical or even just plain skeptical 
audience will encounter the same problem until the crack of doom unless we 
all put our heads together and document one.

Here is my stab to get things rolling:

"Why should Internet usage be anonymous?
Because almost everything else in our life (e.g. TV, radio, the postal system, 
telephony, cash) has a great deal of anonymity built in. Imagine being asked 
to sign your name at the newsagents every time you buy a newspaper or being 
asked to fill out and sign a form detailing every radio program you listen 
to? What would your response be? Well, newspaper websites and internet radio 
broadcasters take your signature every time you use them. The information 
that establishes what you have listened to and what you have read on the 
internet is logged and stored centrally. So unlike the real world, the 
internet has no privacy built in. You are made to sign for everything. So 
unless you are proposing that we should sign a docket every time we read a 
newspaper article, unless you believe that paper money should be abolished 
because it allows people to purchase goods without creating a permanent 
record then you must believe that the same right to privacy we enjoy in a 
world with cash, radio, and television  pertains in a world with cash, radio, 
television plus the internet. "

Thirdly, Tor operators of the world need to unite. The Tor project is not our 
daddy. There is no Tor Project cavalry over the hill about to ride in with a 
coachload of free lawyers. We need to establish a fighting fund for exactly 
these sorts of cases. This fund needs to be managed by a compaign group in 
such a way that it doesn't undermine the anonymity of the network we all help 
provide. I believe informal ad-hoc donations won't cut it. There needs to be 
an organized body that can accumulate wisdom, develop public credibility and 
even distribute funds to cover basic legal costs or more. 

This could be organized along the following lines:

* The organization would be on a subscription basis. X euro/dollars a year.
* The organization would accept donations of all sorts.
* The organization would be registered as a campaign group/NGO (or whatever is 
appropriate) in as many countries as possible. This will require a country 
representative in as many countries as possible.
* Every subscribed member will be entitled to whatever the organization can 
afford within some reasonable minimum/maximum of protection.
* Maybe the organization could negotiate and take out some sort of legal 
insurance on behalf of it's members? What sort of insurance would be 
appropriate? Is there such a thing?

I don't think any of the above is pie-in-the-sky. Tor server operators aren't 
anonymous. They already communicate/collaborate with each other regularly on 
IRC and this mailing list. When a tor operator is 'hassled by the feds' they 
deserve a lot more than tea and sympathy on or-talk. They deserve the 
resources of an organized association that has funds, expertise and a bit of 
a clout to ride in and back them up. Maybe we can wait for George Soros to 
read about Tor for that to happen, or maybe we can get organized and start 
defending  something we clearly all believe in.

There are all-sorts operating tor servers on this list. Who can tell us what 
concrete steps we need to take to set up a Tor Operator NGO? What's the best 
way of incorporating/associating ourselves? What sort of insurance could such 
an organization arrange? How could we do all this without turning the network 
into some kind of cadre?

Yours from the moral high ground, ;)

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