June 21st, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
When Jake got hired, he started giving tours. I only went on one of them. I had invited my editor and colleagues from the Chronicle to that happy hour, and we decided to go with him when Jake began leading people through the buildings for his tour. Kink’s main offices at that time were a wide, open-plan floor, with no walls and rows of desks. I was standing with my Chronicle editor, Eve Batey, when Jake told the group he fucked the models, and that he’d ejaculate under or around the desk of someone he didn’t like. He joked, “Don’t drop your muffin, buddy!” And that’s when Eve and I bailed out.
At a happy hour after that, I remember Jake calling to me from across the room (the bar set) so he could introduce me to a couple of friends. They were two male hackers, one who was (and still is) very well-known. Jake said, “Guys, this is Violet Blue. She gives great head.” I was caught by surprise and mad as hell. He was trying to sexually humiliate me as an introduction to these peers with a lie. The men stood there in uncomfortable silence, looking everywhere but at me. I turned to Jake and said, “I think you have me confused with a certain blonde blogger,” and told the men it was nice to meet them, and I left.
This is one of his most common attacks: Lying about fucking someone in a public declaration to their face and in front of their colleagues. Humiliating the target while attempting to violate her privacy.
I’m far from alone. Isis Lovecruft wrote, “He even went so far as to, on the very first [Tor Project] meeting on the first morning, in front of all the other developers — whom I had not yet met — tell me that he was okay with my partner and I fucking in the same bed as him while he watched, causing both of my partner and I to feel completely humiliated that our private sex life was being discussed in front of colleagues we had hoped to build a good start towards friendly, professional relationships.”
Buzzfeed called this Appelbaum’s ongoing tactic to make “public and false claims that he had sex with” whoever his target was. They reported this was “something multiple sources have told BuzzFeed News Appelbaum has ‘done to too many people to count.’”
Let me repeat: Intimate privacy violations publicly enacted on “too many people to count.” At institutions that champion privacy and attract those who need it the most.
Appelbaum has always attempted to make the hacker scene, and especially the zeitgeist of the hacktivist stage, his own. When Wikileaks happened, he publicly fashioned himself as a lieutenant. And as the voice of Julian Assange, presenting Assange’s CCC keynote and representing the man or that work, or being the gatekeeper, “evangelist” or public persona, whenever possible. He did the same to become part of, and endeavored to become synonymous with, the Edward Snowden documents, also making himself a representative of Snowden and accepting an award on his behalf, and again, a gatekeeper of this arena. Similarly with the Tor Project. He has also aligned himself with the Freedom of the Press Foundation and CCC. He holds secrets belonging to these people and these organizations, and has made himself very powerful.
These are causes, not just jobs or consulting gigs. They are symbols for fighting injustice, and crusading for those at risk of exploitation. Their reputations are fraught and fragile. To attack a person in them is to attack the movement. They are also male-dominated organizations, in the male-dominated realm of hacking, where very few of the men are willing to accept that their hacker heroes, team bosses, and conference buddies might be doing really, really fucked up things to women.
The question is, how long have authority figures at these causes known? Certainly Tor’s Roger Dingledine must have, and for quite a while.
Kink leadership dealt with the problem head-on. Jake almost literally ran out of Kink after they confronted him, leaving in his wake a lot of stories about employee rulebook changes being created to stop his inappropriate sexual antics, job performance issues … His flaming exit was made complete with a ragey email sent to the entire company before they locked him out of the system, and a bizarre public sexual proposition to a section manager (“you should really let me fuck your wife”) in front of a team. Scorched earth at the Armory. When the Tor Project statement hit on June 4, people from both Kink and that era of the SF Chronicle contacted me, recounting these incidents.