Remote/Internet Breakout Group

(These are notes from the online discussion group)

Present: Maritza, Rob, Jerome, Walda, Steve R, Kendra

Discussion of foundational documents

Political Environment

The Internet should for people and managed by people. The same applies to other areas of society; when the public relies on resources, they should manage the decisions surrounding those resources.

We note that the the political environment document focuses on the Americas. Should it be more inclusive, extending beyond the Americas? The interet has global reach.

We decide that it's appropriate to start in this hemisphere, and then move to global organizing. It's critical to start here. We are talking about a global process in terms of the people having control of the internet as well as other processes that are currently controlled by the State.

In the black community we say "each one teach one". Globally we can connect through word of mouth. With cell phones and the internet, these messages are reaching farther than we think. Radio is a good example.

Mission Statement

We liked the mission statement. It's short, sweet, and to the point.


The statement of values seemed comprehensive. We couldn't think of any nouns to add.


We need to promote free software more completely and comprehensively. This is very important to the movement. We should take this idea and run with it, rather than relying of the FSF to do it for us. The FSF doesn't do a good job at living up to their own goals and missions. They had no presence at the Left Forum, or the US Social Forum. These are places where we should be promoting the use of free software.

One of the goals is "Promote and defend internet rights". Should we be promoting and defending the internet as a human right? This belongs in the mission statement. Internet access should be a human right.

Statement of Intentionality

People of color lead these movements and our organization should reflect that. There is deep seated sexism and racism. It is important to push women's rights and the movement in our organizing. Connections should be made to movements led by people of color, and our leadership should reflect that.

I'm glad the statement explicitly says "we will have at least one woman and one person of color" on committees, and involved in activities. We will vigourously circulate this statement, concentrate our outreach to this effect. We will ask members.

I presume a single woman of color wouldn't be able to fill both roles.

Organizations like the FSF have really bad problems with racism, sexism, and patronage. We want to avoid that.

The Black Lives Matter Movement makes extensive use of technology, but it's all corporate technology. It would be nice to introduce them to free and non-corporate-controlled software. We'll have to meet them where they are.

When the government wants to squash social revolutions, they start with (social) media. We saw this in the Arab Spring uprising. What would it take for the US government to try shutting a major social movement out of corporate social media? The more corporate you are, the more vulnerable you are.

Sometimes promoting free software involves insulting people's brand loyalty. Are there effective ways to do this? It can just be a matter of finding one or two useful programs (say, Jitsi's web interface), and using that as an introduction. Jitsi + Firefox could be a powerful Free software combination for us to promote.

I would add to the goals getting labor movement interested and involved in using free software to organize. I could write a book. I have dealt with a lot of drama from so called leaders who use POC and women to boost their image and then run off to take the spotlight. FSF is mad racist and sexist. These are some racist sexist assholes, to be blunt. I have no problem telling the truth about these peole, they are not honest. I could write a book. I live with it. They do not value POC or women of color. I have very little respect for them at this point.

Materialism as identity: As Tyler Durden put it, do you own your possessions or do they own you? (In this context, it comes down to "do you own your digital services, or do they own you"?) People have very little identity, it is part of capitalism to forge identity through brands. It is everywhere, and lends to mediocrity. When I used to work at a liquor store in Ann arbor we called the customers (frat boys and girls) the Sheep. I was a lot younger, but it left an impression on me.

Structural statement

One paragraph begins "The organization's essential documents are ...". would be helpful if these were links to actual documents, rather than a list of document names. That's a minor editing suggestion.

The structural statement mentions "Media Jumpstart". (Some of us hadn't heard of Media Jumpstart before.) Media Jumpstart was a predecessor to MF/PL. Perhaps it's still the legal name on some documents.

I want to share that UAW Local 140, representing the workers at the Chrysler Warren Truck Assembly Plant, has voted 98% in favor of striking Chrysler (now called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA). My restaurant in Cambridge, MA is also deciding to organize.

Strategic Priorities

After a short break, we talked about strategic priorities for the coming year.

Many of the things we've talked about revolve around movement building, but for the last week and a half, we've been under a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. The attackers have targeted groups that advocate for women's reproductive rights, and they've targed Mayfirst for unequivocally supporting them. The attacks were clearly politically motivated. I'm concerned about the possibility of future attacks, and improving our defenses against them. If this movement gains traction, there will be future attacks.

What options do we have for defending ourselves? Many are cost prohibitive. Our internet provider offers filtering services for $1000/month, which may or may not help our particular situation. There other commercial services offering DDOS protection, like Cloudflare who wants around $2000/month. The attacks have physically saturated our network. If we had more bandwidth, we could try to do our own filtering, but the amount of bandwidth required is also expensive.

Deflect is a very good organization, and we should consider partnering with them in the future. Perhaps we could look into ways of simplifying deflect integration via the MF/PL control panel.

There are researchers who study cyberattacks, and cybercrime as a business enterprise. Perhaps we could seek out someone doing research in this area, to see if they can provide knowledge or assistance. Even if that just involves seeing who might be responsible, where the traffic is coming from, or how these attacks fit into the bigger picture?

What else can we do? If our members received such an aggressive DDOS attacks, what about similar organizations (i.e., working on women's reproductive health). What has Planned Parenthood been going through? We should talk to these organizations, to see if they've experienced similar things. If they haven't, we can at least warn them about what might be coming. When we finally get a handle on the problem, we should be very transparent and public about what happened. Especially where the political aspects. Collaboration can give us strength.

There's no shortage of work to do, in figuring out how to defend ourselves both politically and technically.

Political education should be a priority. This happens on two levels: education across groups, and education within groups. Within a group, you always want to ask "what did we learn from this action".

Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Sep 17, 2015, 3:05:44 PM