Home People LibTech: Practitioners’ Panel Strikes Back

Disclaimer: I have done my best to transcribe the comments of these speakers at the conference on Liberation Technology in Authoritarian Regimes, and I apologize for any errors.

Here are a few of the most interesting tidbits from the third and final practitioners’ panel:

  • Bob Boorstin of Google: asks the audience “What do you want Google to do?”
  • Bob Boorstin of Google: Governments are to blame, not companies. If Google had their druthers, they’d show everything.
  • Bob Boorstin of Google: There is a questions of company power and company leverage, but that leverage is limited. Google didn’t have the ability to push back Chinese censorship policy.
  • Bob Boorstin of Google: There are things that companies can do, like making their products open and safe by providing https access and not putting servers in unfree countries.
  • Bob Boorstin of Google:Google is trying to set and example for governments and other companies with their Transparency Reports and their participation in the Global Network Initiative.
  • Bob Boorstin of Google: Working too closely with governments can also damage Google’s credibility with users.
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: Her organization is the creator of the circumvention technologies Ultrasurf and Freegate.
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: “There’s no freedom without freedom of information and no freedom of information without freedom of the Internet.”
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: They have about 300,000 people using their tools every day in China, and got 1 million users in Iran during the Green Revolution, which crashed their servers.
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: Many of their developers were inspired by the 1989 Tienanmen massacre, which affected some directly, as well as persecution of Falun Gong.
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: All of their tools are portable on a USB stick, leave not trace on the computer, and use encryption so they are indistinguishable from other https traffic. They have a very good record on user safety.
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: It took 8 days to create a tool called Green Tsunami to detect, disable, and remove the Green Dam censorship technology.
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: Proposes that 5% penetration of circumvention tools in a national internet creates enough breaks in a censorship system to render it significantly inoperable.
  • Nathan Freitas of NYU and the Guardian Project: How to bring together nonviolent civil resistance theory with new technology to create a new discipline – Otpor and Android, Gene Sharp and Steve Jobs.
  • Nathan Freitas of NYU and the Guardian Project: Success means training + technology + strategy. Liberation technology alone is not enough.
  • Nathan Freitas of NYU and the Guardian Project: They accomplished seven pro-Tibet protests leading up to and during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, many using livestreaming cell phone video.
  • Nathan Freitas of NYU and the Guardian Project: He has created a smartphone app that pre-filters human faces from video with black boxes as the video is captured, preventing the video from then being used to identify activists.
  • Nathan Freitas of NYU and the Guardian Project: Kungleng App for iPhone for Voice of America Tibetan coming soon.
  • Ron Deibert of Citizen Lab: Google should provide resources for activists affected by DDoS attacks. (non-panelist commenter)
  • Nathan Freitas of NYU and the Guardian Project: Would like to see money used for small grants for individual implementations and for education.
  • Janice Trey of Global Information Freedom Consortium: Tools are not open source in order to protect


That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed these posts.

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