[Fsfe-ie] We might want to respond to this:

Jen Bowen jen at bowencomputing.net
Wed Jan 15 15:43:26 CET 2014

Good lord.

I've typed up a potential response, but I'm pretty new to this. Anyone
care to offer their thoughts?  Anything usable here?

Also, looks like the database is down.  Glenn, is there anything we can
do about this?


We are gravely concerned about the mixed messages arising in Fine Gael
TD Patrick O'Donovan's recent appeal to the the Oireachtas
Communications Committee.

In an article from Fine Gael, the Limerick TD expresses concern about a
“An online black market is operating which protects the users’ anonymity
and operates across borders through the use of open source internet
browsers and payments systems which allow users to remain anonymous."

O'Donovan could not be more mistaken about his characterisation of the
problem, or about the response by US authorities.

Tor is a peer-to-peer network originally written and designed by the US
Naval Research Laboratory.  To this day, Tor is used by governments,
activists, and reporters to ensure safe and protected communications,
and is financed by numerous US governmental agencies, including the US
State Department and the National Science Foundation.

The Tor network is an unquestionably important communal good, not just
for US citizens, but for the entire world.  Tor is written under the
open-source BSD license, and this very fact is what helps to ensure that
Tor remains free from the influence of any single government,
individual, or corporation.

Like any communal good, the Tor network can be used for unsavoury
purposes.  Certain black markets have appeared on the network, such as
the Silk Road, the website recently shut down by the US Federal Bureau
of Investigation.  The identity of people accessing the Silk Road was
revealed through the use of a security hole in older versions of the Tor
Browser Bundle.  O'Donovan seems to think that the open-source nature of
Tor has prevented law enforcement from using the same security hole to
identify more users, but in doing so he thoroughly misunderstands both
software licensing and human nature.  If a person were to have the key
to their house stolen, they would replace the locks, regardless of
whether they had access to the blueprints of the house.  Whether the Tor
Browser Bundle was proprietary or Open Source software, a new version of
the Tor Browser Bundle would most certainly be released to patch up the
hole. To fail to do so would leave its users - governments, activists,
and reporters - vulnerable to malicious attack.

Free, Libre, and Open Source Software is a vital component to a healthy
business community and to modern society.  The clear misunderstanding by
TD O'Donovan of the technological and social issues presented leaves the
Irish Free Software Organisation with serious questions about the
ability of the Oireachtas Communications Committee to make informed
decisions about this important public resource.

Law enforcement in the digital age presents undeniably new challenges,
but those challenges will only be compounded if we fail to fully
understand the consequences of our actions in the technological realm.
The Irish Free Software Organisation encourages the Oireachtas
Communications Committee and the Ministers for Justice and
Communications to consult with experts from the Free Software community
to develop realistic assessment and effective solutions to the
technological challenges we face.

On 15/01/14 09:46, Malcolm Tyrrell wrote:
> http://www.finegael.ie/latest-news/2013/odonovan-calls-for-crackd/index.xml
> Malcolm
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