On Mon, Jul 25, 2016, at 03:03 PM, Steve Dougherty wrote:
> Now addressing others on the list: I note an ethical dilemma here. It
> may well be that the accused is guilty of the things they are accused
> of, and invalidating this presumably-mistaken search warrant would
> allow them to go free. That said, do we want to resist the application
> of flawed statistics in prosecuting Freenet users? I'm leaning toward
> probably. Selectively assisting in fighting search warrants that seem
> invalid also seems unethical. Are we obligated to help?
This is a great ethical question and it's been answered a million times
in courts.
There is a reason you hear about bad guys going free on "technicalities"
and it's not that the system is broken or corrupt.  The system is
designed with an important safeguard:   It's better for a HUNDRED guilty
people to go free than for ONE innocent person to go to jail.
If the prosecutors are using flawed statistics or a misunderstanding of
Freenet to send GUILTY people to jail,  then there is going to come a
time when they use those same flaws to send an INNOCENT person to jail.
If you provide testimony that truthfully describes how Freenet works and
that sets a guilty person free,  that is not your fault.  (Likewise,  if
cops were using Tarot cards or a Magic 8-ball to "prove" people were
guilty, and someone provided the truth about Tarot cards and Magic 8-
ball's, and that causes a guilty person to go free,  consider it a good
thing that the system has been FIXED and good innocent people aren't
wrongly going to jail.)
Those "technicalities" that the cops in TV shows seem to hate so much
are carefully designed protections to make sure that the system errs on
the side of protecting the innocent.
You will sleep better at night knowing that you told the truth.
Consider the alternative:   If you are ONLY going to provide testimony
in cases where the defendant is innocent,  then you're going to have to
determine who's guilty and innocent.  [And if you can do that, we don't
really need courts anymore, we can all just Ask Steve.]  If you withhold
testimony because the guy is a scumbag and he goes to jail on flawed
statistics, and then you find out years later that he was innocent,  you
are going to feel a lot worse than if you found out that a guilty guy
went free.
Just tell the truth about how your software works.  Whatever happens
after that is at least done with everyone's eyes open instead of closed.
But fucking charge for it.  $300 an hour seems fair.  FOSS authors have
a right to get paid for their time, knowledge, and expertise.  If a
court needs to understand how your software works,  you already did the
world a favor by WRITING the software,  you're not obligated to ALSO
teach everyone how to use it, teach them how to read code or to teach
them statistics that they should have learned in high school.  Be sure
you get WELL paid for your time.
The EFF will back me up on everything I'm saying.  This isn't about
twisting my mustache with an evil laugh because I've figured out how to
get away with being a bad guy.  This is about freedom to use software
to be anonymous - the crypto community has been trying for decades to
get people to understand that good and bad people EACH have uses for
tools like encryption, hammers, guns, and Freenet.  Encryption and
Anonymity doesn't mean your probably guilty.  The Federalist Papers,
for example, were published anonymously and provided the ideas that
eventually grew into the US Constitution.  You are on solid ethical and
moral ground - and in good company - by telling the truth about how
your software works.
- Eric
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