I am not exactly sure how to start this email. To be honest, I never imagined I'd ever be writing this kind of letter to Tor, a project I used to respect a lot and was very excited to contribute to. Having been almost totally silent on Tor-related topics on all public channels for the last months doesn't make it easier for me to talk today.I know that many of you have wondered where I disappeared, why I wasn't active anymore or why I didn't respond to any of the emails saying that I would not be invited to the Seattle meeting. I wanted to take time to respond. I wanted to avoid being part of this crazy storm where everyone was shouting and no one was listening. I wanted to wait for more facts to come out, and I wanted to see how the situation - and my feelings about it - would evolve.
I am very saddened to announce that I am quitting Tor.
I am not sure what that means as I have never gotten any money from Tor.
I guess this means that my name will be removed from the website, that I will not read tor-internal anymore. I am fine with this.
But I no longer wish to be associated with the Tor Project.
Now I will be able to speak freely, which has not been the case in the last months.
I am quitting Tor now because I feel like it is inevitable. By not inviting me (and other Tor people from Berlin who were "forgotten" - what a coincidence!) to the Seattle meeting, by not adding me to the new mailinglist about CloudFlare (a project I was a major part of), Tor made a clear statement: I am not welcome anymore.
Before coming to the main points I need to clarify some things:
- I have been romantically involved with Jake - this had already ended when he was pushed to quit. Even if things have not always been easy he has always treated me with respect. We are still close friends.
- Jake is aware of my intention to send this email. He has never pushed me to write it (I expect some of you to believe he did, which is why it is important for me to clarify - more on this topic below). He hasn't seen the contents of it.
- I will not go into the accusations against Jake in detail for now. I am tired of digging in sex stories and 10-year old fights.
What I have to say on that subject is that I have not been present when any of the stories told on the jacobappelbaum.net website happened. Still, I do have a weird feeling about many of these stories because they contain facts I know are wrong. I am basing this on my personal experiences with Jake and the accusers, and personal experiences of several of my most trusted friends.
This leaves me wondering: why did the people who wrote this need to lie about or omit crucial details?
To be clear I believe Jake has hurt people (which he has admitted himself) and didn't respect people's boundaries. I do not believe he is a rapist or a harasser and I am wondering what the people who started this campaign are trying to achieve.
- I am aware that many of you have not gotten involved in this campaign. While I am very disappointed that so few "friends" of Jake reached out to him before picking a side or deciding to let this happen without reacting, I want you to know that my hardest criticism is not addressed to you.
- Over the last two months I have had so many thoughts about Tor and this campaign that saying all I have to say would be impossible to do in one email. I am open to have further discussions in private or in public, depending on the nature of the discussion.
- Some of you will probably wonder: why am I doing this? Obviously, I have nothing to win here. I have already lost friends, projects and two months of my life because of what happened. I can only lose more by writing this letter. But what happened is so unfair to so many people, in so many ways, that I cannot keep this for me. I know other people at Tor and in the broader community have similar feelings, and I hope this will encourage them to speak up.
- For these reasons exactly I think this email should reach more than only tor-internal. This email has primarily been written for this mailinglist but I'll post it publicly for more transparency and for the broader community, the Tor supporters and all those who wonder what is going on at Tor.
I am aware that sexual misbehavior is a tricky subject. I know that it can be dangerous to not believe victims and having been a victim of sexual misbehavior myself several times I know how hard it is to talk about what happened. But I also believe that it is even more dangerous to use the "believe victims" idea to achieve unrelated goals.
Having dated Jake for a significant period of time I know him pretty well. I am not trying to pretend that he never hurt anyone or that he is always perfect. To be fair, he has hurt me several times (I am not talking about anything sexual or manipulative) as people do this in relationships. When this happened, we talked about it. That's the best way I know to solve these problems.
Creating a website to destroy someone's life with no possibility of self-defense is beyond horrible. A website based on approximations, ridiculous claims and even lies is something I never imagined people from Tor, people I hoped to share ethics with, to make.
The first thing I said when I saw this website, is that Shari failed. She knew people (many datapoints indicate the site creators are Alison and Isis) were about to do this. How could she let this happen? It is not only bad ethically, it is also bad for Tor, the organization she is supposed to take care of. As soon as she knew about this, Shari's job was to make a meeting happen between Alison, Isis and Jake, and try to solve the problem. Instead, she let this happen. Why? How could this be positive for Tor in any way?
I am strongly wondering if this was really about protecting women. Here's what I noticed: I am a woman, and I estimate that more than half of the Tor core people know I was dating him, or at least close to him. If Tor believed there was victims, why did no one ask if I had bad experiences with Jake?
This would have been easy given that Alison spent an hour alone with me in a cafe at the last TorDev meeting and had several communication channels with me. Also I have been at Isis' place several times in the last months as I am dating her roommate Brennan, the one she mentions in her blogpost and reached out to tor-internal in June. I only see two possible answers to that: they were selectively looking for people that would agree with their slandering campaign, or they didn't care about potential victims. (If you believe Jake & friends are part of a big conspiracy, see below.)
I believe what is happening here is extremely dangerous for women in particular.
What is happening is the same as the story of the boy who cried wolf.
People are creating a big slandering campaign about rape, at least partially based on lies, will harm the next women who will experience rape (for real) and have the courage to speak up about it.
As a woman I have never felt as unsafe at Tor as now. Tor purged Jake, the horrible predator, and Tor is now a safe space? Who is supposed to buy this? Before this happened, the discourse was: the hacker/freedom community is dominated by straight, male-identified people among which we can find a certain number of predators, or at least of men who don't always behave respectfully around women. This meant: there is a general problem.
Now the discourse is: we have purged Jake, thanks to those who started this campaign we are safe now - seriously?
On another level I also feel unsafe about expressing my own opinions, whether it is on tor-internal, somewhere else on the internet or in public. I have canceled talks at conferences because I felt like I would be unsafe there as a friend of Jake's. I have avoided speaking out on social media: until this week I have only posted very few vague tweets about the subject. When I tweeted this week, I immediately got attacked by Isis and called a "rape apologist". And when I tried to talk to a leading person at Tor, I got wrongly accused of things I hadn't done:
(Jul 28 20:07:40) XXXXXX@XXXXX: i think an even bigger piece was probably that you seemed to be spending more energy on the jake thing than on moving forward tor's goals. which makes sense, i'm not saying you should have been different, but it also makes sense what people conclude from it.
When I asked what I had done:
(Jul 28 20:08:24) XXXXXX@XXXXX: well, on attacking alison on twitter for example. though, i don't even use twitter, so i don't know anything, i just am picking up impressions.
I have not attacked Alison on Twitter or even tweeted at her at all since the website went live.
In general, I feel like Shari and Tor in general failed at protecting me as a women close to Jake (and so, as a potential victim, considering that Shari and Tor believe the accusations) and later, failed at protecting me as a member of the community.
It is really hard to talk about Tor's action because there is a lack of transparency. Why does everything have to be hidden, even from tor-internal? Isn't that contrary to the way Tor has worked in the past?
While I understand that the people who claim they are victims need to be protected and I accept the fact that their names cannot be disclosed, I do not understand why all the info must be kept secret from people who dedicate a major part of their daily lives to the Tor project.
Why did Tor first take action (by making Jake quit) and only then started an investigation? Shouldn't that be the other way around?
Did Tor do any fact-checking before acting based on the allegations?
Why was Jake banned from TorDev in March, and why was his absence not addressed officially at any moment? Why did no discussion about this topic happen at that point?
I cannot even point all the details (from the blogposts to all the refusals to talk on tor-internal) where Tor showed a worrying lack of transparency. I am extremely worried about the direction taken by the organization. This is, to be clear, not a version of the Tor Project I want to be associated with.
Two members of Tor have been purged for unexplained reasons. Even if Shari already made sure they are being purged from Tor Project Inc., the community council is currently in a process of taking decisions on this case.
I assume they are deciding whether these people will still be welcome as community members.
Would Tor Project Inc. accept the decision of the council if its decision would be to welcome these people in the Tor community? Is the council even considering this as an option? Did the council have access to all the document they need, e.g. the results of the internal investigation?
This conversation I had with a leading person at Tor makes me wonder:
(Jul 28 20:04:38) XXXXXX@XXXXX: one of the other sad things is that most people have not read the report that the investigator made
(Jul 28 20:04:51) XXXXXX@XXXXX: which makes sense, since this is probably the #1 most interesting tor document to leak for this year
(Jul 28 20:05:07) XXXXXX@XXXXX: so we all have to trust a tiny number of people
Stop me if I'm wrong, but I have never heard of any respected court in a democratic country where an accuser is part of the jury or a judge. Alison - who outed herself as one of the "victims" from the website - is still part of the community council. According to the last email sent by a member of the community council to tor-internal, the community council is currently involved in taking decision closely related to the internal investigation.
I know that there are others in the community who feel like something is not right about this and I assume that they only haven't spoken up because they are afraid.
It is quite obvious that the two members I evoked in the previous paragraph have been purged from Tor.
One of my reasons to not speak out about how bad I felt about the website and the way Tor handled this case was that I wanted to see what would happen to people like me. I wanted to see if there was a chance to have a discussion inside of Tor - I understood pretty quickly that this would not be the case. Then I hoped for things to calm down, and other people to speak out. Lucky Green left Tor, pretty silently. That was pretty much the end of it.
When I understood that there would be no space for an open discussion I wondered how Tor would deal with people like me - people who still consider Jake as a friend and feel more than uncomfortable with the accusation and the way they were handled by Tor.
I expected to not be invited to the Seattle Meeting, and still it hurt.
No explanation, nothing.
Several people who were present at previous TorDev meetings were not invited. Leif was "forgotten", David had to explain why he should be invited, at least one other person who signed the ourresponse.org statement and was present the last times was not mentioned on the invitation list.
When people asked about me, Shari replied that there was no "wrongdoing", just anonymous people who feel "uncomfortable" around me.
(I feel highly "uncomfortable" around Alison, Isis and Andrea, will you ban them too?)
I wish people from Tor - as in, leaders and managers - would have reached out to me. To explain what was happening and why, at least.
Instead, I had to hear from diverse members of Tor, after I reached out to them:
- that I am not welcome because I have been more busy picking fights on Twitter with Alison than working on Tor (wrong, I have worked on training Tor a lot and as said I have not tweeted at Alison since the website went live)
- that I leaked docs (wrong again, I didn't even have access to most of the documents that have been leaked - honestly I'd have loved to, but I had decided to be silent and stuck to that)
- that Tor was expecting people close to Jake to leave anyway, and that this is not a big deal (the same person also told me that I was never welcome at Tor from the beginning anyway because I was introduced by Jake)
- that the Berlin people are not compatible with Tor's diversity (1/ let's be honest, Tor is focusing more and more on the US community and 2/ who believes that all the Berlin people are the same?)
- that I was some kind of agent operating for Jake (wrong again, I am not acting on Jake's demand in any way). I am actually really upset that I had to hear through third parties that Shari considered me an agent of Jake in the context of other events, before the website even went live - why didn't she address it directly with me?
Is that the way Tor wants to act with members of its community?
Is every person that still has a friendly relationship with Jake unwelcome at Tor? Is it a necessity to believe the accusations on the website to have the right to contribute to the project?
I am truly disgusted by the idea that Tor is planning on having a "Community truth and reconciliation" moment at the Seattle Meeting.
While I really respect the idea of reconciliation, I cannot imagine that a reconciliation could be based on enforcing the idea of a truth that is dictated by a group of people, while so many datapoints hint at this "truth" being based on lies.
Speaking of truth I'd like to remind some of you that in Valencia 2015 you weren't interested in talking to Alison because she was the girl who was only there because she was somehow sexually involved with Jake and who made sure everyone would know it. How could you believe this later on #tor-internal?
01:08 < flexlibris> i found out today he's been telling people in berlin that he and i used to be in a relationship
01:08 < flexlibris> that has never happened
01:09 < ailanthus> Amazing
01:09 < ailanthus> There are ways that he could help himself but he's not doing them
01:09 < flexlibris> i find that kind of lie rather frightening tbh
01:09 < ailanthus> flexlibris: agree
01:09 < flexlibris> like, how entitled must a person feel to claim a relationship that never existed?
(I can imagine that Alison has never considered that she was in what Europeans would call a "relationship". Having witnessed a part of whatever happened between Jake and Alison, I consider it very manipulative that she denies the existence of a relationship and doesn't disclaim that indeed, something bigger than a "minor romantic interest" happened between both of them for more than a year, which several sources confirm in addition to my own experiences.)
More generally for almost two months I wondered how it could even be possible that no one is even questioning the veracity of the statements, given that I know that some people at Tor have information that contradicts the stories told by some of the "victims".
And then I had a conversation with a leading member of Tor, who said this:
(Jul 28 20:13:11) XXXXXX@XXXXX: we should work on deciding what we want to be, and how to get there, and what we don't want to be
(Jul 28 20:13:16) XXXXXX@XXXXX: and let the past be the past
(Jul 28 20:13:38) XXXXXX@XXXXX: so, whether the river story didn't happen that way, for example, should not be the focus of anything.
The most relevant accusation may be a lie, but it's not a problem, let's forget about it and go on.
I'll leave this uncommented.
I am really sorry for every member of Tor that feels like they can't speak openly.
And I really hope that one day Tor will be an organization I can respect and collaborate with again.
Marie / shiro