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Re: beneficia versus maleficia

On Sun, Oct 03, 2010 at 07:43:21AM -0700, Wesley Kenzie wrote:
> On Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 5:14 PM, Andrew Lewman <andrew@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > On Sat, 02 Oct 2010 15:58:15 -0500
> > David Bennett <dbennett455@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >
> > * > I am facing a moral dilemma in regards to joining the tor proxy
> > > network.  I am hoping a discussion may alleviate some of my concerns.
> >
> > It seems what you are wrestling with is the dual use nature of
> > any technology.
> >
> > <snip>
> >
> > It comes down to if you believe the good uses outweigh the bad uses.
> > Technologies are generally introduced with a narrow use case in mind.
> > Seldom to these technologies stick to their original use case over time*.
> >
> >
> This is well articulated, Andrew, and a good summary of this important
> aspect of the issue. But I think what it primarily comes down to is
> something you did not mention: how a person is prepared to face
> possible<->likely unpleasant consequences for choosing something they
> believe to be morally right.
> If these unpleasant consequences are too much or too difficult for the
> person, then they should likely choose a more passive role, if anything. In
> the Tor context, I believe that is what relays and bridges and limited exit
> node ports are for. If the person is still unable - for either personal or
> family or community safety concerns - to face this risk, then they
> could/should choose to help in other ways by volunteering to help the Tor
> Project in various ways. Or they could choose to opt out of any actions, and
> just listen in on the conversations so they can learn more about how these
> important issues of privacy, anonymity, security etc are evolving before us.

You are right about the design options and this part of their
motivations.  These considerations and incentives have been a factor
in Tor's design since the beginning, Cf.  "Onion Routing Access
Configurations" in DISCEX 2000 or "Deploying Low-Latency Anonymity:
Design Challenges and Social Factors", in IEEE Security & Privacy
Magazine 2007.  Both can be found at

As you noted, incentives and thus opportunities to participate
continue to evolve; more recently Tor has provided the option of being
a bridge to the configurations in which one can participate and
support Tor.  This offers still other tradeoffs to those mentioned in
the above papers (less bandwidth or public visibility, supporting
specifically users needing to circumvent blocking of the Tor

> It takes courage and conviction, to both believe and to act
> according to your beliefs. Making intelligent choices fits in there
> somewhere too. But in the end we all define our own lives in our own
> ways.

Well that's the goal anyway. Those who cannot participate in any of
the above ways but want to help can provide financial support,
positive publicity, etc.---if any of those are intelligent choices
consistent with their beliefs.

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