Tor Boycott Would Be Inappropriate

[Update 19 August 2016: The post on Medium that is referenced here shows every sign of being a stupid error or a hoax or, yikes, a false flag operation. Pick your agency.]

A call went out earlier today for a temporary walk-out of Tor relay operators to protest the Tor Project management scandal. I don’t support this idea. The result would be a degradation of service for people whose safety, livelihood, and freedom depend on the anonymity that Tor provides. I think of the example of Lucky Green, who resigned as the operator of the Tor Bridge directory, a sensitive and vital role that serves the world’s most censored and monitored Internet users. This was a blow to Tor, and a reproach, but Green gave advanced notice so that an interruption of service could be avoided.

[N.B. — The Bridge operator role fell to Isis Lovecruft, formerly a Tor developer, more recently an itinerant Web developer. When she learns about TLS, she’ll be unstoppable.]

As for the claim in the same announcement that lawyer Franklin Bynum was hired by Tor to conduct its internal investigation, this remains uncorroborated. A-Random-Redditer(TM) asserts that the investigator was in fact this firm, which is more plausible. If the seemingly impossible is in fact true — not for the first time in the last two months — that truth will out, and I am content to wait.

And meanwhile, I run Tor Browser for myself, and a (middle) relay for everyone else. The code is well vetted and much more stable than the currently notorious personnel.

Posted in Computing, Disasters, Foolishness, Politics, The Surveillance State | 1 Comment

My Letter To The Tor Project

Shari Steele, Executive Director
Tor Project

Dear Shari,

As you know, police raided my Seattle home in April because I was
operating a Tor exit. You and I have planned to discuss Tor’s response
to the raid and, I was hoping, the possibility of implementing EFF’s
plan to help our local police and judiciary better understand the nature
of Tor. However, in light of the recent Die Zeit investigation into
allegations against former Tor employee Jacob Appelbaum, and the
continuing actions of Tor employees and volunteers with regard to
Appelbaum, I must rescind my offer to meet with you. I can no longer
envision a collaboration with Tor, nor will I again contribute
financially to Tor.

Here are some of the issues that compel my decision.

* A primary spokesperson for Tor is campaigning on Twitter for
Appelbaum to be expelled from his Ph.D. program at the Technische
Universiteit Eindhoven. This is an outrageous persecution of a man
who is not even charged with a single crime, let alone convicted of
one.
* At least two Tor employees are widely suspected of creating the
still-live anonymous smear site that impersonated Appelbaum, as well
as a Twitter account that impersonated him. That Twitter account
called on Appelbaum to commit suicide and issued threats against
people who spoke out against the methods employed to destroy not
only Appelbaum’s reputation but also his earning potential.
* A high-profile Tor developer is mocking and threatening Daniel
Bernstein, an eminent cryptographer of unblemished professional
reputation, calling him names on Twitter and alleging that his
judgment about technical issues is clouded because his supposed pet
pupil has supposedly been outed as a sexual predator.
* Your lead blogger and primary author of the Tor Social Contract is
ranting online about press coverage that did not, like the New York
Times, simply transcribe Tor’s press release. That she organized a
public shunning campaign against a former employee after having
gotten him dismissed from his position makes the Tor Social Contract
an exercise in high irony.
* You personally have been quoted on Twitter by New York Times
reporter Nicole Perlroth as saying “The stories that were published.
We found them to be true” and “The allegations were all found to be
true. These included allegations of rape, sexual assault, abuse,
harassment.” Most seriously, Perlroth states that “Shari Steele said
that [the sexual assault allegations] are a euphemism for rape.”
Setting aside the absurdity of an organization making accusations,
funding their investigation, and then ruling on them, these
statements reveal an extremely reckless policy with the media. In
light of the Die Zeit investigation, your statements also appear to
be slanderous.

In short, I have no confidence in Tor’s will or ability to ensure
professionalism among its personnel or to execute an effective
communications policy. As a Tor volunteer and contributor, I feel at
risk not only from the Seattle Police Department, but now also from Tor
Project members who are  targeting a growing list of individuals for
shunning and character assassination with no apparent push-back from
management — indeed, with management’s collusion.

That individuals with such poor judgment are pivotal to an organization
whose mission is to protect political dissenters around the world from
reprisal, torture, and murder is profoundly chilling.

Respectfully,

David W. Robinson
Seattle, Washington, USA

P.S. — Should any of this letter’s recipients with to communicate
privately, I have attached my GPG key for your convenience.

cc.
Matt Blaze
Cindy Cohn
Gabriella Coleman
Linus Nordberg
Megan Price
Bruce Schneier

Posted in Computing, Disasters, Foolishness, Politics, Seattle, The Surveillance State | 42 Comments

The Tweet-Storm-Esque Trans-Summary of the Die Zeit article about @ioerror

For those who can’t wait for the German-language @ioerror article to come out in English, I will tweet it in summarized translation. Kind of like live tweeting, but not live. @zeit 1/?

I assume some prior knowledge of the @torproject sex and power scandal. If you are sick of hearing about it, or hope never to hear the first thing about it, mute me now for the love of God. @ioerror @zeit 2/?

Article title: “What Has This Man Done?” By @ChristianFuchs_ & @larsweisbrod with @kappuchino @ioerror @zeit 3/?

In 2016 an orgy took place in Jacob Appelbaum’s apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, with plenty of MDMA in use. @ioerror @zeit 4/?

In the living room, fully dressed guests turned up the music to drown out the sounds from the back rooms, while listening to Jacob, star dissident of the hacker scene, holding forth. @ioerror @zeit 5/?

Jacob had fled the US because of surveillance, worked with Assange and Snowden, won awards for his journalism in Der Spiegel. @ioerror @zeit 6/?

At some point he leaves with a quiet American woman for a bedroom where a third person is present. They have sex. @ioerror @zeit 7/?

This event seals Jacob’s fate and results in his social downfall. The quiet American will subsequently accuse him of rape. @ioerror @zeit 8/?

In June, @torproject announces Jacob’s resignation as spokesperson and developer. Tor is a tool that allows dissidents and whistle-blowers to safely communicate. @ioerror @zeit 9/?

Shortly after, an anonymously published website appears with anonymous accusations against Jacob of “sexual, emotional, and physical” abuse. @ioerror @zeit 10/?

One victim, “Forest”, tells of sleeping in Jacob’s bed “as friends,” and awaking to find him touching her sexually, apparently while asleep. He apologizes the next morning & claims no memory. @ioerror @zeit 11/?

Another victim, River”, is the the quiet American. She says he forced her to have sex while a friend watched, when she had made clear she did not want to. @ioerror @zeit 12/?

River further claims that she passed out from drugs or alcohol, and woke to find Jacob engaged in sex with her. She says she did not understand at the time that sex while unconscious was rape. @ioerror @zeit 13/?

So, is Jacob a sexual criminal? If the claim about unconsciousness is true, he is culpable under German law. @ioerror @zeit 14/?

To understand what actually happened, we must connect the anonymous aliases to real persons, & understand what happened in the days before and after, and what unfolded after Jacob’s resignation. @ioerror @zeit 15/?

Not all of the anonymous stories rise to the level of crimes. Sam reports that Jacob enticed her into his bathtub, and there washed her without her consent. @ioerror @zeit 16/?

Another victim reports that Jacob kissed her without permission, and another that he gave her an “aggressive shoulder massage.” @ioerror @zeit 17/?

In general, the website is a catalog of verbal crudeness and stupid antics, but it contains the one allegation of a serious crime. @ioerror @zeit 18/?

The consequences were devastating. Jacob was instantly persona non grata throughout the hacker scene, his apartment painted with graffiti accusing him of rape. @ioerror @zeit 19/?

Meanwhile, supporters gathered who regarded him as the victim of hypersensitive radical feminists who exaggerated minor misunderstandings and created libelous websites. @ioerror @zeit 20/?

The central questions neglected by both sides: Was Jacob really a rapist? Was River really unconscious? @ioerror @zeit 21/?

The name “Tor” is from “the onion router,” a network architecture of many layers that hides sender and receiver from one another and from the NSA through encryption. @ioerror @zeit 22/?

The case of Appelbaum is similar: Layers must be peeled back, revealing many stories. The first is that of activists mounting a campaign against a former hero. @ioerror @zeit 23/?

Another is of a kind of secret society of people who came together to live differently – more extreme, more ambitious – queer, polyamourous, trans, opposed to every convention. @ioerror @zeit 24/?

The freedom of emancipated love was inextricably tied up with betrayal, tristesse, power plays, and overwhelming emotional distance. @ioerror @zeit 25/?

Start with the days before, at the CCC in Hamburg, the hacker congress, with its attendant alcohol, drugs, and sex. The scene is the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel. @ioerror @zeit 26/?

Jacob is drunk. People are watching him. He kisses a Russian women in his circle so roughly that her lip bleeds. @ioerror @zeit 27/?

Later, another woman sits on his lap and they kiss, etc. At some point she stands up, playfully pushes him away. A man rushes up: “Is Appelbaum harassing you?”@ioerror @zeit 28/?

No,” she answers, but the man nonetheless pushes in between them and admonishes Jacob. @ioerror @zeit 29/?

6 months later, with Jacob branded a rapist, @gizmodo prints an account of this incident by that man and his companions, describing Jacob’s abusiveness and the threat to the woman. @ioerror @zeit 30/?

But then the woman turns up, identifies herself as a girlfriend, denies that anything was wrong, and wonders at the bizarrely distorted perception of the witnesses. @ioerror @zeit 31/?

The victim website fell victim to the same error. One of its stories was taken down at the insistence of the woman described, who was, in fact, the roughly kissed Russian woman @ioerror @zeit 32/?

I was not a victim of Jacob Appelbaum” she says, adding that she had related the incident to friends who then had twisted the story. @ioerror @zeit 33/?

2 weeks after the victim website appeared, 2 of the victims identified themselves: Sam=Tor developer Isis Lovecruft, Forest=Tor community activist Alison Macrina. @ioerror @zeit 34/?

Remember, Forest was the touching in bed, and Sam was the bathtub incident. Friends of Jacob said important details had been left out of the stories. @ioerror @zeit 35/?

In the case of “Sam”, the bathtub trauma was followed by conversation, reconciliation, and consensual sex. @ioerror @zeit 36/?

When questioned about this by Die Zeit, Macrina was furious; it was “offensive and disgusting” to ask such questions. @ioerror @zeit 37/?

It is inappropriate, Macrina said, ever to use other sexual activities to suggest that violence against assault victims doesn’t count. @ioerror @zeit 38/?

With victims going public, even the CCC now distanced itself from Jacob. A notable exception to the censure was Wikileaks, whose female associates denied experiencing any abuse. @ioerror @zeit 39/?

Meanwhile, in an ongoing internal shakeup, the entire board of Tor was replaced. Pivotal Tor veteran Lucky Green resigned in protest against Jacob’s treatment. @ioerror @zeit 40/?

Macrina moved into the roles formerly occupied by Jacob. She insisted that her expanding influence had nothing to do with the events surrounding him. @ioerror @zeit 41/?

Jacob was always a controversial person in Tor. He got the applause, but others seethed in silence with envy and contempt. He also made more money than Isis Lovecruft. @ioerror @zeit 42/?

Yet he consistently criticized his paymasters, putting forward a radical critique of Tor’s US government funding, and the organization creeping embrace of “professionalism” and coziness with the regime. @ioerror @zeit 43/?

In late July Tor announced its internal investigation had confirmed that Jacob had engaged in “undesired aggressive sexual behavior.” No mention of River, though, or rape. @ioerror @zeit 44/?

So far nobody, on either side, has filed any charges. Why not? @ioerror @zeit 45/?

The anarchists, who hate the state, chose to take matter of rape into their own hands, refusing to go to the police. Nor has Jacob gone to the police, oddly. @ioerror @zeit 46/?

River was new to the “scene.” Did she know what she was getting into? Jacob was open about it being a sex party. @ioerror @zeit 47/?

Witnesses who left the next morning for the airport said “River” had seemed sober and never lost consciousness. Everything had been consensual. @ioerror @zeit 48/?

On that New Year’s day, people including River rose late, went to a spa. River comforted a partier who felt he had disclosed too much of his personal life the night before. @ioerror @zeit 49/?

River’s account, like the story told of the Russian woman, seems to blur several different days, evenings, goings-on, and people. @ioerror @zeit 50/?

One thing stands out: Die Zeit interviewed three of five other people who were present. None observed Jacob and River having sex. Tor ended relations with two of these people in July. @ioerror @zeit 51/?

The dismissed Tor collaborators were accused of “inappropriate behavior.” @ioerror @zeit 52/?

Friends of Jacob asked River over those days if she was doing well, & she always said yes. Not one of 8 witnesses over 2 days saw her unconscious, or forced into sex. @ioerror @zeit 53/?

River left on 3 January. Macrina arrived that evening, apparently headed for the bathtub incident. @ioerror @zeit 54/?

Days later, River posted about the great time she had in Hamburg & Berlin, how she wished to repeat it. On 19 Jan. she later sent a friendly email to Jacob ending with “Hugs”. @ioerror @zeit 55/?

The Berlin hacker scene is shattered, hackers fear being falsely accused, projects languish, mutual trust is gone, and the NSA is popping champagne corks. @ioerror @zeit 56/?

Probably a lot was broken already. As in other leftist utopias, the will to power lurked behind the beautiful words. @ioerror @zeit 57/?

Everyone slept with everyone else and accused their partners of every possible evil. Nobody escaped paranoid accusations of working for the regime. @ioerror @zeit 58/?

Encryption cannot stop the revolution from eating its children. @ioerror @zeit 59/?

Jacob admits failing to fight sexism at Tor, admits behaving inappropriately, apologizes for wounding people, and calls River’s story “fiction.” @ioerror @zeit 60/?

Many others people we talked to, friends and foes alike, don’t want to be quoted. They fear reprisals. @ioerror @zeit 61/?

Posted in Communism, Computing, Politics, The Surveillance State | 1 Comment

#Jakegate Becomes #Torgate

Since things seem to be falling apart at the Tor Project, and also in the campaign against Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror), I’m beginning a list (for my own convenience) of leaked documents. They tell quite a different story from the highly organized smear campaign that has been dominating news reports, the blogosphere, and teh Twitterz.

These documents are anonymously created and/or leaked primary sources that journalists mostly won’t touch. They should, of course, be read in the context of the many related public statements with names attached to them. Those are readily available elsewhere, as are the anonymously operated website http://jacobappelbaum.net and the anonymous Twitter account @VictimsOfJake (aka @TimeToDieJake). This archive only deals with the scurrilous shadow campaign that is being waged around Tor.

[Most recently updated: Sun Jul 17 15:52:11 PDT 2016]

Leaked 17 July 2016
Reaction on tor-internal list to defection of bridge directory operator
https://cryptome.org/2016/07/lucky-green-shuts-tor-tonga.htm
http://pastebin.com/w5WFMBXg
Archived: PDF

Publicized 16 July 2016
Trusted operator of critical Tor infrastructure quits over treatment of Jacob Appelbaum
https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/19690
Archived: TXT

Leaked 28 June 2016
David Chasteen timeline at Tor
https://cryptome.org/2016/06/david-chasteen-tor-timeline.pdf
Archived: PDF

Leaked 28 June 2016
David Chasteen biography
https://twitter.com/Cryptomeorg/status/747771009185480705
http://iava.org/people/david-chasteen/

Archived: Internet Archive

Leaked 27 June 2016; dated 2 June 2016
Dingledine letter
https://0bin.net/paste/3hEqvnX7aW0UYe4E#qFJM18pzh+LKfDeU8aCfykHPCEaFDd327UAULydBQ4R
https://cryptome.org/2016/06/dingledine-appelbaum-16-0602.pdf
https://twitter.com/Sanguinarious/status/747467497259958272
https://twitter.com/Sanguinarious/status/747469195554652161
Archived: PDF TXT

Publicized 27 June 2016
Anonymous rebuttal of “Background” document
https://twitter.com/Cryptomeorg/status/747463244323889152
https://0bin.net/paste/YHu4ba-vkJ+8hsbB#RI8qkNohpo1tTT4x+XuBuDUYvCqtz3i1TSZKXFbfsmZ [original expired]
Archived: ODT TXT

Publicized 26 June 2016; created 29 August 2015
Chat log: Internal debate about hiring a CIA-contractor to lead Tor Project
http://pastebin.com/WPAmqkW8
Archived: ODT TXT

Leaked 9 June 2016; dated 18 march 2015
Appelbaum suspension letter from Tor (2015)
https://cryptome.org/2016/06/appelbaum-suspension-2015.pdf
Archived: PDF

Leaked 8 June 2016; dated 27 May 2016
Tor/Appelbaum separation agreement (never executed)
https://cryptome.org/2016/06/tor-appelbaum-separation.pdf
Archived: PDF

Posted in Computing, Foolishness, Politics, The Surveillance State | 5 Comments

My Broken Novena Front-Panel Board

Here is a healthy board with a ribbon connector attached to it. The socket I broke on the other board is identified by the arrow.
connector

This shows the damaged board, with the socket missing and the solder visible.
damaged_board

Posted in Computing | 3 Comments