Downfall of Tor and Freedom of the Press

Recently there has been a bit of a drama going on in the Tor community. Some people have made claims that Jacob Appelbaum is guilty of sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape. None of the claimed victims have made actual reports to the authorities or have brought up any evidence. These accusations were made mostly on Twitter. Someone has also made a website that includes multiple claims, and the tweet button on the site makes a tweet saying that it is Jacob Appelbaum's website. As it stands this whole fiasco looks a lot like a character assassination operation.

This all started with Tor Project's announcement in June 2nd that said the following: "Long time digital advocate, security researcher, and developer Jacob Appelbaum stepped down from his position at The Tor Project on May 25, 2016.". After this announcement claims about sexual assault and rape started popping up on Twitter and people made the website with the clear intention of ruining his name. As of this time there was no evidence of any wrong doing on Jacob's part and no victim had reported him to authorities.

June 6th Jacob Appelbaum released his own statement about what is going on. In his statement he denies the claims of sexual misconduct and says he is "prepared to use legal channels" to protect his reputation, something that none of the so called "victims" have shown any will to do, which makes it seem like their claims are completely false. On this day Cult of the Dead Cow also released their statement which says they have "decided to remove Jake from the herd". Note that no evidence of any wrong doing has been released on this day.

June 7th Gizmodo published their story of an eyewitness that claimed Jacob had sexually assaulted a woman in a bar. The claimed victim published her own statement and said this was false. Later Gizmodo published another story about the "victim's" statement. On this day some anonymous user also released an email that was supposedly sent to Jacob Appelbaum by Tom Leckrone. Authenticity of this email has not to my knowledge been confirmed by either party.

Freedom of the press publicized their statement June 8th. Without having any evidence and without any legal charges being made against Jacob they decided to kick him out of their organization, quite drastic action to take towards someone who is a board member when you don't have any evidence to back up the claims in my opinion. Seems like Freedom of the Press doesn't actually care about freedom, protecting freedom while ruining people's lives just based on anonymous claims on the internet doesn't quite add up.

It is now 11th of June and a lot of people still assume Jacob is guilty and there still hasn't been any evidence to back up any of the claims. I for one don't think it is just to assume his or anyone else's guilt and ruin their lives without second thought. That is not just and it is in my opinion detrimental to freedom. People who believe he should be assumed to be guilty without evidence and due process are not for freedom, they are for authoritarianism.

The character assassination website has been updated and it now includes a FAQ section that makes it seem even more likely that none of the claims are true by stating that the people behind it are afraid of being identified and sued, which would only be the case if what they have said is false.

Update (2016-06-12)

One of my friends noted that the FAQ also mentions how the "victims" don't want to go to the police because they don't trust the police or fear the police. He also said that this is very irrational since the police would only investigate the report, not the "victim's" personal life.

Someone has also made a very nice git repo that archives all of the different aspect of this case.

Update (2016-06-18)

On 9th the CCC published "A reminder to be excellent to each other" which many people interpreted to be an indirect response to the drama around Jacob Appelbaum. Especially one sentence seems to be a very clear reference to the claims made against Jacob: "Creatures that are not excellent to others are not welcome." On 17th they made a tweet confirming that it was indeed in realation to the drama and that Jacob isn't welcome to their event. This should make you wonder if if you are being excellent to others if you assume their guilt.

Update (2016-06-21)

Seems that Debian has also decided to remove Jacob as a developer on 18th of June..