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Re: Informal Discussion: Identities of Voters Casting a Particular Ballot are No Longer Public

Philip Hands <phil@hands.com> writes:

> I can imagine being fearful of that too, but what I'm interested in is
> whether we have any evidence of that fear being justified.

> If it is actually the case that any of our votes have been followed by
> people giving one-another grief over their vote, that is one thing, and
> I think we need to ensure that we have mechanisms for dealing with such
> an eventuality.

> On the other hand, if that does not actually happen, then I'd suggest
> that it's better to establish that as a well known fact than to allow
> people to continue being fearful that it might be something they should
> expect.

I think it's very difficult to fight the chilling effect of worrying that
you will suffer consequences for your vote by gathering evidence that
there is no documented case of this happening.  For one thing, such
consequences can be subtle and difficult to trace (this happens all the
time in workplaces, for example, where someone with power decides they
don't like you and then your job assignments and the like get subtlely
worse).  And for another, we're all part of a larger world and safety in
expressing controversial opinions is very much not the trend of things in
the larger world of which we're a part, particularly on the Internet.

People daily are seeing rather memorable examples of social media
pile-ons, people being doxxed, people having the police sent to their
house with lies about emergencies, loud protestors outside people's
houses, people being confronted and harassed in public spaces, people
subjected to long-term concerted harassment and libel campaigns, and so
forth.  It's quite reasonable to believe that Debian activities do not
have any magical shield against this, and it's very hard to tell what
activity might set off this sort of political reaction.  Sometimes it's
apparently quite innocuous and just happens to slot into a conspiracy

And we also know for certain that Debian is not immune to this.  I don't
know of a case where it's happened specifically with votes, but it has
certainly happened to our members over other parts of Debian work, and
with a level of maliciousness and persistence that's quite staggering.

I do think it's reasonable for people to be worried about this.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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