Some of you may remember that back in the day we asked you to send us your Riseup stories. Once again, we would love to hear what work you are doing in the world and how Riseup is helping you.
Why? Your stories inspire us on the days when we are stuck in server cabinets, fighting spammers, and searching for stray code commas that are messing everything up. Also, we think our movements grow stronger when we share stories of struggle, strategy, and success. Every month we hope to include one of these stories in our newsletter. So write us already, what are you waiting for? email@example.com
Rickard Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, recently wrote1:
“Governments all over the world, and in the so-called Free West in particular, look like confused sheep. They are applauding the net activists who are helping people communicate unhindered to get news out from repressive regimes, and at the same time arresting people who use the same technologies in their own countries.”
The heart of the matter is that governments want the ability to know who you are on the internet. They currently find this difficult, and they want to design the technology of the internet to make identification easy.
This was the essence of the recent eG8 summit2 in France. Leaders from around the world got together to push the idea that “the rule of law” must extend to the internet.
We can see examples of this in the HADOPI law in France3 (which sets up a government agency to regulate who has access to the internet), the warrantless wiretapping law in Sweden4, and the Obama administration’s desire to require backdoors to encrypted communication in the United States5.
All this is a very bad idea, for one simple reason: the only way to ensure real identity on the internet is to build a police-state.
As Bruce Schneier, one of the foremost experts on computer security, wrote6:
“Bits are bits; they don’t come with identity information attached to them… We simply don’t have anywhere near the expertise to build an airtight attribution system… Any attempts to circumvent this limitation will fail, and will increasingly need to be backed up by the sort of real-world police-state measures that the entertainment industry is demanding in order to make copy-protection work. That’s how China does it: police, informants, and fear… Law enforcement and others need to understand that the old ideas of identification don’t work on the Internet.”
If the civil libertarians get their way, the internet will still be a playground for capitalism — but at least it will not be the technological basis for total social control.
If you want to assert your ability to communicate on the internet anonymously then try out the Riseup VPN. We are having people try it out this month in order to work out some of the bugs. You can read more and learn how to use it at help.riseup.net/vpn
Last September we asked you all to give us money (and you did, which was amazing! Yay, you!) for three projects. We wanted to update you on where we’re at with them.
The first was finishing the programming on the Crabgrass Project, a free-software social networking and organizing platform that we think will be super useful for all of you. We’ve made big strides in the project, and are working on the last bells and whistles as we inch closer to be able to launch some software we’re really proud of. Will it be done by September? Dear universe, we hope so. We think so. Cross your fingers and touch wood.
The second was configuring new machines to upgrade our email. We did this and mail is way more secure and solid. We are adding about 1,000 new email users to our system a month. Huzzah!
Last, we wanted to pamper our programmers with burritos and coffee. We are happy to report resounding success on this one. We recently had a Riseup Retreat where we not only had burritos and coffee, but also pastries, margaritas, and vegan sausages as we dreamed our dreams of tech, solidarity, and freedom.
As always, we rely on you all to support the work we do, and as we grow in providing radical tech services, so do our expenses. Even though we got more donated last year than ever before, things are getting pretty tight in Riseup land, in large part because we are supporting way more users. So if you can, we’d love for you to donate. riseup.net/donate
All the Riseup Birds