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Re: [tor-talk] WP: The feds pay for 60 percent of Tor's development. Can users trust it?

>However, I think a good case can be made for pseudonymous contributors
>(I don't know, we may have them now).  It supports the philosophy of
>the project, and allows contributions from those who may not have the
>safety and freedom to contribute to a project like this publically.
>Contributions from NSA and CIA employees aren't even necessarily
>ill-intentioned, although I think it would be best to not have people
>who might have a conflict of interest in any leadership or critical
>position in development.

Can I add my tuppence worth to this important thread?  I accepted that
the FSF, in recommending I use gNewSense, was recommending a a totally
free Linux distribution, because I believe (and still believe) that the
endorsement by the FSF is a good measure of its integrity to be what it

That might have been naive of me, but I believe that to be the case
with most people.  If something is recommended by those in whom we have
to trust, we generally trust that other "thing" by association.

As a Brit, my interest in the Snowden Affair, was how much can we trust
the UK government?  We do not have explicit constitutional arrangements
in which our government is supposed to act, instead we have implicit
rules in which our government is supposed to act and the ways they get
our state to act.

I am not so naive to suppose that places like GCHQ do not exist, but I
rely on our government to rein them in, and take responsibility for
doing so, if they exceed the bounds of what is implicitly accepted. One
role of government is to act in a way which we, as citizens, have
implicitly allowed them.  Also, it is the responsibility of me, as a
citizen, to let the government know what those bounds should be, and to
be reasonably sure that they will not overstep the limits.

This is the essence of representative democracy, not just that organs
of the State which could use mass surveillance of private digital
information, but can we trust the government of our country not to
allow it to be done. By extension, can we rely upon that trust in our
government to make all States in which we have diplomatic relations to
act in the same way, or to report to Parliament if they cannot?

I do not need to know that MI5 and GCHQ have any particular interest in
this information, just that the light of examination will be brought to
bear on any activity that they indulge in, and that my trust in the
government (of whichever hue) is not misplaced.  Sometimes they get it
right, on others they get it wrong. Churchill's decision to fight Hitler
and German Fascism was right;Thatcher's decision to go to war against
the National Union of Mineworkers was wrong.

Can I still trust my government in the light of the Snowden
revelations? I think not.  We are still the subject of the greatest
range of CCTV surveillance in the world, almost without the British
public being asked. now, we are having our digital life screened and
screened retroactively at that by the NSA, which is not even an office
of our government, and doesn't answer to Parliament. My government,
through the GCHQ, have asked the NSA for this information and it has
been handed over.  My state has no democratic control over the NSA; this
is the type of "special arrangement" we do not want.

Now we have to put our trust in the FSF, in GnuPG, in Tor and VPN
tunnelling: but we should not have to do so.  We should be able to
trust our governments to due the right thing as soon as possible.

++ Graham Todd

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