Subject: [NYCGA Internet] Re: Against Encryption (& what amounts to info hoarding): Transparency = Public Legitimacy = OWS Movement Growth
From: planetary_io
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2011 14:03:53 -0700 (PDT)
To: internet working group

We agree wholeheartedly.  We think there is another way: openness with
data integrity.  We think that some encryption techniques could be
applied to some of the data gathering operations, but in a way that
fosters openness and trusthworthiness of data and increases confidence
in posting publicly.

We had the idea long before this began to build a "PUBLIC ARCHIVE //
EVIDENCE LOCKER" system using not key encryption, but SIGNING
mechanisms, that would provide some of the benefits of encrypted
channels or data stores, but WITHOUT sacrificing openness:
- Non-repudiation
- De-identification of assets (e.g. stripping EXIF data)
- Data integrity / preventing tampering - this will be tactically HUGE
to the movement as the data about law enforcement brutality comes
increasingly into question as 'evidence'.  We foresee a very near
future where the tools that we use for accountability - mobile phones
& feeds - start to become a liability in seeking justice, due to the
low quality and susceptibility to tampering of the default device
output.  We think this is avoidable using current technology.

Interested in exploring this further with us?

On Oct 26, 11:18 pm, felipe ribeiro <> wrote:
Am I the only person who is concerned that the widespread use of encryption
justifies the paranoid surveillance state in wanting to tap everything?
Excluding logins, etc, why hide ANYTHING? I would say the more we document
what we are doing and make it accessible, the more knowledge we share, the
less of a "threat" we are, the stronger we are. With OWS, we have nothing to
hide. We ARE law enforcement, in the purest sense of the term. Grandma is
with US, We The People.

I've probably pissed off alot of people on this list over the past 3 weeks,
arguing that we're not doing enough to document what we are doing. And the
understandable (but I would argue, incomplete) response is: "We're BUSY
trying to build shit that works for OWS to use! The more time we spend on
chatter/documentation, the less solid code we can write each day."

here's my argument - the code you write is AS IMPORTANT, but NOT MORE
IMPORTANT, than the abundant documentation for the RATIONALE for that code,
in terms of the intention, the behavior you want to encourage or discourage,
- not just the hows of your process, but the whys. For our power lies in our
transparency. Remember that phrase, "we hold these truths to be self
evident"? If we document well what we are doing, our goals as a movement -
our reasoning, or moral imperative, if you like - is beyond reproach. No one
can point at us and say we are "subversive". On the contrary, the
subversives own the banking system, and have been subverting the USA for
quite some time. We are the super majority, we are the country, we are the
fuckin' PEOPLE, man. If we simply take a look at what the big picture is, we
know right away We Are In Charge. We're not "protestors", we are the true
owners of society. I'm not making a rhetorical point here (believe me, I can
further back this point up, but it's for another discussion).

it is for this reason I don't think encryption should be encouraged among
OWS supporters AT ALL, unless they live in repressive regimes (and before
anyone says the USA is a repressive regime - what happened in Oakland last
night, as enraging as it is, cannot be compared to what's happening in
Syria, or Zimbabwe, or any number of places). For now at least, the USA is
bound by law.

And while I appreciate that everything is super hectic right now, I am of
the belief that the set of ideation platforms, online consensus/deliberation
platforms, social argumentation spaces, and other emergent systems that can
allow thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people to meaningfully partake
in decision-making that will ultimately come out of this movement ARE TOO

So yeah, not only am I against encryption for this movement (in the USA)
because it is a tactical blunder in terms of making the state be concerned
that they have to employ more intelligence resources to monitor what is
going on (again, we have nothing to hide, WE ARE law enforcement), it trends
towards further secrecy and non-openness, which is already happening HERE,
on this list, and I think that sucks.

I disagree that we're being "transparent enough". No, we're not. Most people
don't know what IRC is. Chat logs are temporary, they are not archived. ==>
Do you not realize what we're doing is absolutely historic?** <== Why are we
forking these conversations into a thousand different (effectively) private
conversations? I said it before, I'll say it now - what does it matter if it
happens unintentionally? By treating the documentation of what (& why) we
are doing as merely an after thought, we're effectively hoarding

I think the moment we're in as a movement intersects beautifully with the
moment we tech people are in - we need to walk the walk on transparency. Who
are we, OWS? We are radically transparent, in that we are documenting the
fact that we don't yet know what form our collective voice will take, but we
do know that it is important to register our process in real time - the meta
narrative - of what tools we're building, and why. What future do we want to
build? The tools we design will allow us to build that future. What kinds of
tools do we want to build? These conversations must be had, in public, in
real time. So, what tools are we going to build? Who is documenting these
conversations? Where are they occurring? Why not look at these
(tech-centric) conversations as The Golden Opportunity to bridge in the
Democratic process that has been happening in parks around the country for
the past five weeks with the bigger emergent question of "Who Are We?" as a
movement? We are the people that are going to make the existing system
obsolete, to paraphrase Buckminster Fuller.

So, let's talk about it. Publicly. In a documentation-friendly fashion.
Please? No more disappearing into non-archiving digital places, minimize
private listserves (unless what you are discussing is PURELY
security-critical topics), and, as much of a pain in the ass as it is,
please document what you are doing ten times over.  Anything less than an
all-out effort to disclose what/why/how of our tool building is not only
methodologically questionable, strategically, it is a missed opportunity for
providing the movement with a needed mirror and a way to connect disparate
supporters and scale the conversation to the appropriate size.


** Why is this historic? Because we're seeding the development, in the form
of research questions, design patterns, and intended outcomes, of the set of
platforms and ideas that will eventually beat existing governments in the
planes of transparency, just consent, and efficiency (cumulatively:
legitimacy). Why? Old paradigm decision making will die in the face of
demonstrably superior technology that involves orders of magnitude more
information processing. How can 535 politicians compete against the sum of
human knowledge? Right. They can't. And right now, that innovation process
is underway (the theory has been in place for quite some time, actually). So
let's treat this effort as if it could actually succeed, and give it its
best chance at doing so: document, document, document.

PS: I just joined twitter tonight: @philosophrclown