An Open Letter to The Calyx Institute
29 Oct 2011 15:36 EST

Calyx Institute, Nick, et al

I can't express how impressed and inspired I was by Nick's prolonged legal battle. His willingness to stay the course, challenge the system meaningfully, and effect change is an inspiration to anyone who considers themselves a free speech advocate.

I want to make The Calyx Institute aware of a severe deficiency online, and hope to inspire you to do what you can about it. There are a number of individuals, nonprofits, and organizations that have run free-speech programs and services for years. But this has always been done ad-hoc, often resulting in problems and headaches. Services like Tor and remailers do generate legitimate abuse complaints. But these abuse complaints are often automated and ultimately do not stand up to the safe harbor provisions as a common carrier.

But that doesn't mean that Tor operators aren't forced to bounce hosting providers often. There doesn't seem to be any meaningful way for people to host these services without worrying at night about whether it will be there in the morning [1]. I won't confess to completely understanding the landscape of ISPs, ARIN, peering, and abuse contacts - but I do know there seems to be no way as an individual or even non-profit to find a reasonably priced host that supports free speech. I'm not looking for a host that turns a blind eye towards illegal activity, just one that understands that abuse notifications sent to a common carrier often have no teeth, and will pass them along to be dealt with by the individuals running the services.

I think the Calyx Institute, having been founded by someone who does understand the landscape, is uniquely situated in this area. It's not so much a matter of providing advice, as for years we've all talked to hosting providers until we're blue in the face - and still we got dropped by our providers. I hope Calyx Institute can grow to actually provide or partner with someone to provide the service, uplink, IP addresses, or whatever is needed to let individuals and organizations host our legal free-speech services. And give us the peace of mind to fight our own battles against corporations and the government - without also fighting our hosting provider.



[1] You can browse the torservers mailing list archives for some insight into the problems. http://www.freelists.org/archive/torservers/

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