[tor-project] The Tor Project Social Contract

Matthew Finkel matthew.finkel at gmail.com
Sun Jul 31 23:30:22 UTC 2016

On Mon, Aug 01, 2016 at 12:19:27AM +0800, Virgil Griffith wrote:
> I want to be very clear.  Under this branding, it gives authorities a pass
> to imprison someone for zer use of Tor software and/or running a
> relay (regardless of whether said use was related to human rights
> activism.)  If said person is otherwise disliked, execution for things
> labeled as "human rights activism" is rarer these days, but it
> does still happen.

This is not branding. We're not trying to corner some market or increase
our market share through the creation of this Social Contract. We are
describing what the Tor community is/does/should be.

> ***This is not currently the case.***  But a branding akin to Human Rights
> Watch for Nerds makes the above scenario vastly more probable.

I yield this point to you. Indeed, currently Tor does not explicitly say it is
a Human Rights community - but the Tor community doesn't explicitly officially
say anything. These are the first formal documents the community is writing.
Similarly, on the front page of torproject.org there is not a single mention
of "human rights". This doesn't mean The Tor Project isn't a human rights
organization. On the contrary, as it was already mentioned, it's in their
mission statement. I know you do not have the naïveté needed for missing this
and it seems we would all be naïve to believe regional authorities don't know
this, too. The very fact tor is promoted and used as a censorship circumvention
technology within the regions you described shows how our "Western" idea of
freedom is already influencing these areas - and not only for whistleblowing.

I agree that there is some merit in the idea of forcing people to read between
the lines when other people are risking their lives. Obscuring an idea or
purpose does help in some instances (this is how censorship circumvention
works, after all), however, by not labeling Tor as a tool that promotes human
rights the Tor community is lying about what Tor does and why many of us
volunteer our time, money, and energy in support of it.

It's disconcerting you feel that this puts you in danger. It's quite sad that
Tor straddles such a fine line in this world, and it's amazing you've
successfully run Tor relays without much incident in that region of the world.
Thanks for being such a risk taker and standing up for human rights while it
wasn't generally promoted as such.

As an aside, some of the submissions for the the "Report on encryption,
anonymity, and the human rights framework" are interesting, too.

> I bet a Bitcoin that, within five years, someone will be executed in part
> due to this pivot.  Any takers?  I've lost bets before and I pay on time.

This is not a game and that bet makes me nauceous.

> -V
> On Sunday, 31 July 2016, Virgil Griffith <i at virgil.gr> wrote:
> > It's okay, I'm resigning over all connection with Tor over this.
> >
> > There are three behaviors:
> > * Living within an authoriarians state to locally improve lives.
> > * Running a website that is a magnet for both lawsuits and law enforcement.
> > * Engaging in activism that is explicitly prohibited by said authoritarian
> > state of residence, and *regularly prosecutes accordingly*.
> >
> > Many see themselves as brave for doing one of these.  I'm willing to play
> > more risky and will do any two.  But doing all three all but guarantees a
> > lengthy jail sentence, deportation, or both.
> >
> > Nick Mathewson has commented on how few people from PETS-needy
> > demographics are part of the Tor community.  This policy will all but
> > guarantee that to continue.   Whereas privacy activism is considered at
> > worst quirky, human-rights branding makes affiliation and interacting
> > with Tor a substantial risk to the 1/3 of the non-white world who have the
> > least.
> >
> > This pivot is misguided, mission-damaging for global privacy, and will
> > bring out the maximum panoply of forces against Tor and its important
> > services.  And frankly, it reaks of privilege to reap modest PR benefits
> > in western jurisdictions at the expense of vastly increasing the risk
> > to the most vulnerable.
> >
> >
> > If this goes forward as-is, Tor will gain traction in Asia when China becomes
> > a democracy, or there's a return to the original privacy branding (with
> > human rights being a frequent consequence of better privacy)---whichever
> > comes first.  It pains me immensely to see Tor cluelessly cause so much
> > damage to global privacy while so self-righteously endangering the least
> > empowered Tor users and operators.
> >
> > Good luck,
> > -Virgil
> >
> > On Sunday, 31 July 2016, dawuud <dawuud at riseup.net
> > <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','dawuud at riseup.net');>> wrote:
> >
> >>
> >> Dear Alison and the other authors of Tor Project Social Contract 1.0,
> >>
> >> Thanks for your hard work! +1 for the new social contract.
> >>
> >> I find it VERY SUSPICIOUS that anyone would argue against human rights
> >> being specified
> >> especially if that person operates tor2web servers which allows them to
> >> be an intermediary
> >> for other people's communication. I think our commitment to human rights
> >> means that we
> >> should seek to eliminate these types of distributed systems that do not
> >> praise either
> >> the end to end principal or the principal of least authority. They create
> >> deep pockets
> >> of authority but instead we should seek to more widely distribute the
> >> authority among
> >> the many actors in the system.
> >>
> >>
> >> No SPOFS (single points of failure)
> >> No admins!
> >>
> >> David
> >>
> >> On Sun, Jul 31, 2016 at 04:01:16PM +0800, Virgil Griffith wrote:
> >> > I see the writing on the wall.
> >> >
> >> > I'll close that I think a pivot from Tor being an organization that
> >> > is "foremost privacy" to a "foremost human rights" vastly increased
> >> > the risk to run
> >> > relays in PETS-needy regions.  This is not a theoretical maybe.  I've
> >> cited
> >> > concrete, tangible evidence for this increase risk.
> >> >
> >> > Bluntly, I think this pivot takes the 30% of the world population who
> >> > constitute Tor's most needy users and operators, and throws them under
> >> the
> >> > bus.
> >> >
> >> > -V
> >> >
> >>
> >

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