[Freedombox-discuss] Raining on the parade

Ted Smith tedks at riseup.net
Mon Jun 25 04:20:13 UTC 2012

On Mon, 2012-06-25 at 11:07 +0800, Sandy Harris wrote:
> Evgeny Morozov has written a critique of the whole
> notion of using the net as a way to liberate the world.
> His book definitely has limitations; for one thing, he
> looks at the problem mainly from the point of view
> of US foreign policy. However, I'd say it is still
> worth reading: http://www.evgenymorozov.com/ 

It's not clear what this critique actually is from your email, the
linked website, the Wikipedia page on Morozov, or the Foreign Policy
articles linked to in the sources. He seems to be mostly critical of the
American government's two-faced chastisement of Iran and China, which
doesn't really speak to the relevance of the Freedombox project.

> Those are all extremely worthy goals, but are they achievable?
Technically: yes, they are all quite achievable.

      * Encrypted and self-hosted and anonymous email has been around
        for a while
      * censorship-resistant or censorship-proof publishing has also
        (you could do this with a Wordpress blog behind a Tor hidden
        service, but you could also do it less nicely with Freenet)
      * "organizing tool" is not really a goal, since it doesn't map to
        any defined problem (I will say that the most technology any
        activist group I was in used was mailing lists and google docs,
        which are both doable with free software)
      * "Emergency communication" is similarly ill-defined, but if we
        interpret it to mean "mesh networks," that too is certainly
        "achievable," if less achieved than the rest on this list.

As I understand it, the Freedombox project aimed to write as little code
as possible, because it was to focus on deploying existing software in
an easy-to-use way.

> Can a computer actually function as "An organizing
> tool for democratic activists in hostile regimes"?
> Such regimes routinely imprison dissidents without
> much in the way of legal safeguards. Does anyone
> imagine they would not stomp rather firmly on
> anyone they caught with a Box?
Well, the Tor Project has a lot of experience dealing with circumventing
oppressive regimes that routinely imprison dissidents, so yes, it's
possible -- but the problem with arresting anyone the Great Firewall
detects using Tor is that you arrest all of the people trying to get to
facebook or gmail as well as all the scary dissidents. 

There are several valid criticisms of this project, the most salient of
which is the lack of deliverables in any tangible form (at least from my
perspective: that of someone who watches this mailing list and little
else) after more than two years. (Come on, people. Worse is better. I
expected at least a metapackage by now.)

Sent from Ubuntu
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