This is a long and highly technical paper written by someone who has been thinking about sexual assault survivor support along the same exact lines as unquietpirate and myself.

We began our work on Predator Alert Tool in early to mid-2012 and eventually released the first functional prototype on October 26, 2012. A little over a year later, on December 9, 2013, a technologist and social activist named Praxis published the first version of “Mapping Sexual Assault: Addressing Under-Reporting & Perpetrator Correlation Problems With Confidential, Double-Blind, & Anonymous Cryptographic Surveying Techniques” but it contains numerous serious security vulnerabilities, including ones that Predator Alert Tool for Facebook and some of the other Predator Alert Tools are also vulnerable to. But this week, Praxis published a revised proposal for a similar, fully decentralized system:

I’ve just reviewed the paper and, at first glance, I find much to like about it. My main initial frustration is mostly with what I still believe is an over-concern with mitigating harms from “false reports,” but in general Praxis’s approach to this problem and its related ones are survivor-centric and thorough, rightly surmising that the State-backed legal system is nothing but an obstruction to justice both for survivors and perpetrators. The conclusion of Praxis’s paper highlights the obvious overlap between their theoretical work on the problem of endemic serial rape and my own and my collaborator’s work on Predator Alert Tool:

Impunity is the key property that explains the widespread prevalence of sexual assault. Rapists are often able to remain anonymous to the next person they hurt, because most survivors do not report. Most survivors do not report because existing accountability mechanisms in society do not treat rape as a serious crime. Survivors who report are often subjected to blaming attacks by social peers and are ignored by those who are supposed to be responsible for investigation and accountability, whether that is the police and court system or a university administration. Lack of any real accountability for perpetrators who are reported and the low rate of reports overall are intrinsically linked; these two factors compose a mutually re-enforcing feedback loop that leads to greater impunity for rapists, who consequently enjoy relative anonymity when targeting people and little chance of facing serious consequences if they are reported.

One way to deal with the problem of impunity is to label people. The prison system does this all the time when it labels people as felons and sex offenders, labels that follow those people for the rest of their lives. This system relies on first demonstrating dispositively that the individual probably committed the act in question, and then publicizing a persistent label associated with their real name, or sometime even their biometric identity. This system has [many] flaws.

[…But t]here is a[nother] way: ignore existing accountability mechanisms, which are unreceptive to prosecuting rape, and focus on connecting survivors who share the same perpetrator, without centralizing any information about the perpetrators or survivors themselves. […]

Introducing survivors who share a common perpetrator to one another would likely have a disruptive effect oncampus wide conversations about sexual assault, and would introduce new deterrents for perpetrators who would be more vulnerable to exposure, prosecution, or independent retributive action taken by the survivors themselves. Unlike a “label and publicize” system, this model would not rely on flawed dispositive accountability systems, in fact this system would be utterly neutral as to the question of whether an assault had occurred or not, it would merely link people who claimed a common perpetrator. What they should do with that information from there is entirely up to them, the survivors.

(Emphasis mine.)

I’m very pleased to see that other people are finally beginning to do serious work on sexual assault in this way.

To the best of my knowledge, the only existing tool designed to introduce survivors who share a common perpetrator is Predator Alert Tool for Facebook. It is not a perfect tool by any means, but the project is a free software, open source, anti-copyright, legally unencumbered, public domain repository.

To thrive, it needs to be used. Here are two very good, simple and user friendly introductions to using Predator Alert Tool for Facebook (and its sister tool, the Predator Alert Tool for OkCupid). Please share this with your friends:

Learn more about how to help the Predator Alert Tool project. Pair with “Predator Alert Tool as a game theoretic simulation of countermeasures to rape culture” and “How would you design an online social network that was hostile to abusers?

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