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Eben Moglen Calls To Free the Cloud

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the on-gossamer-wings dept.

Social Networks 173

paxcoder writes "You have been informed about Diaspora, a (to-be) distributed free social network. What you may not have known is that it was inspired by an excellent talk by Eben Moglen called 'Freedom in the Cloud.' But it doesn't stop there. At Debconf 10 this month, Moglen went further, and shared his vision of a free, private, and secure Net architecture relying on ('for lack of a better term') freedom boxes — low-price, ultra-small, plug it into the wall personal servers. He believes they will catch on since they will eventually cost less than a router, provide more functionality and freedom to the user, and even help your friends bypass any censorship by encrypting and routing their traffic. Since hardware is being taken care of, we are called to assemble the software stack. The title of this sequel talk is How We Can Be the Silver Lining of the Cloud."

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All they need to do is everything (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33258998)

Hardware that no one has adopted with software which no one has written is not a replacement for social networking sites.

Re:All they need to do is everything (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259048)

That's where people with vision like Eben Moglen come in.

Any old monkey can propose something that already exists.

Here's the thing... (4, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259500)

It's fine to build a better server. But a network is not just the nodes; a network is also the paths, and the paths, my friends, are not anything either the telecomm concerns or the government are going to allow us to control, or have any of our own. And this gives them, if they think they need it, complete control over these new systems. If traffic passes over their paths that concerns them, they'll just shut it down.

So while I appreciate the idea, it's literally only half-baked. Wake me up when someone builds an inexpensive network in unregulated RF space. Until then, control, and therefore freedom, is unattainable.

Re:Here's the thing... (1)

healyp (1260440) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260642)

That would be awesome, and there are some protocols out there for packet radio on the unlicensed/amateur spectrum, but the fellas at the friggin' FCC don't allow encryption on those bands.

Re:Here's the thing... (4, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261240)

I know. I'm an extra-class HRO.

The FCC has long been complicit in awarding, maintaining and ensuring that access to the RF spectrum is thoroughly monopolized through them. That's why they never allowed local AM and FM stations at the citizen level worth a damn; that's why even the ridiculously expensive "low power FM" stations were only drizzled out, and even then, incompetently and mega-slowly; that's why HRO's are restricted from playing music, "broadcasting" (meaning, transmitting to a general listening audience, like SWLs, rather than just to other HROs); that's why any number of restrictions exist. The government protects and serves the corporations before the citizens get even one moment of consideration. And that in turn is part of why we'll *never* have access to a citizen's "network band" or anything like it. The other part is the government's perceived need to monitor us. That's only getting more intense as well.

What we actually need is a new *method* of communication, and worse, we need to get a jump on it before the government does. What? I don't know. But as different from RF as laser links are, and as non-interfering as they are as well. Quantum coupling or something. I don't know. All I know is that the Internet as it exists now is more locked-down and regulated every day. The odds of actually increasing freedom within its bounds... pitiful.

Re:All they need to do is everything (5, Insightful)

Unoti (731964) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259066)

Hardware that no one has adopted with software which no one has written is not a replacement for social networking sites.

You raise a good point, but this is a chicken and egg issue. Back in the day, near the dawn of the personal computer, user's personal machines were generally not networked. You could get a network card, but there wasn't much point for most users. This is because there were not generally useful network-aware applications, there was a lack of lots of other machines to communicate with, and a lack of generally useful information to share on the network. Each of those kinds of problems posed a barrier to solving the others.

Facebook, dating sites, and other social network sites in general have the same kind of chicken and egg problem when starting up-- there is no real value for the early adopters because nobody else is there yet.

So your statement that hardware that no one has adopted with software which no one has written is not a replacement for social networking sites is completely true, obviously. But at the same time, there has to be a way to make the statement false. Otherwise, we must say that today's existing social networking sites can never be replaced. Because whatever replaces them will, at the time of their birth, have zero people using them.

It may well not work out or not catch on, but somehow, some day, today's existing status quo will fall and be replaced by something else. And something else has to be built before it can be used.

Re:All they need to do is everything (5, Insightful)

mrogers (85392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259234)

It may well not work out or not catch on, but somehow, some day, today's existing status quo will fall and be replaced by something else.

I can't help thinking this is how the Communist Manifesto would have sounded if it had been written by Marvin the Paranoid Android. ;-)

Re:All they need to do is everything (0, Offtopic)

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Re:All they need to do is everything (1, Funny)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259938)

How did you know I was looking for a bikini? Do they come in XXXL?

Re:All they need to do is everything (5, Informative)

Xamusk (702162) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259766)

I think there's more trouble facing the early adopters. For example, even the hardware isn't all that good to start with. The "modern replacement" of SheevaPlug (mentioned in "hardware is being taken care of") isn't all that good. In fact, this new version, the GuruPlug, suffers greatly of an lack of thermal design. This causes the plug to overheat and start rebooting, until the embedded power supply fails (also because of heat dissipation problems). As a result, to use one of those, the user must also mod the hardware, which creates all sorts of trouble. The manufacturer doesn't even care about it, and keep selling it for those naive enough (like me) to think that the manufacturer should take care of those problems before even starting to sell a product.

Re:All they need to do is everything (2, Interesting)

lonecrow (931585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260934)

The way I see it the eventual replacement for facebook will end up resembling the blog market. I can get a server install wordpress and host my blog, or I can download anyone of the other thousand blog server apps. Or I can find a wordpress hosting company, or blogger.com or whatever. Multiple apps with multiple hosting options.

With myspace, friendster, and facebook a standard set of features are developing. With an interop protocol there is no reason why it can't be truly distributed.

Re:All they need to do is everything (Not so fast) (2, Interesting)

griz (23039) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259886)

Just this week a platform was announced, http://bit.ly/9KFubG, that combines the ARM based Plug computers and the Amahi Home Server. This could be an excellent candidate for a One Click install App for the Amahi platform. I think we may be on to something here.....

Re:All they need to do is everything (Not so fast) (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260522)

I'm not going to click that.

Re:All they need to do is everything (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260742)

True, very early adopters find themselves in a sort of void, with nobody else connected, and support that still needs lots of debugging and testing. But, it's a high potential value void - the few people around are other early adopters, who tend to be technically literate and educated, and anyone in early can spread the word to their own friends, or other people they would like to see join them. Early adopters can have a great deal of control over the direction the system evolves (usually), and more personal contact with the system's originator(s). This has been true at least since the founding of Usenet. When there were only a few hundred people on, they tended to be people with a shared interest in computer science, a good chance of knowing the answers to some questions of mutual interest, and a tendency to stay civilised, so potential value was very high. Endless September is effectively the perpetual dilution of remaining potential value.The original incorporation of binary files added a lot of value, whereas a better binary encoding (i.e. Yenc), adds only marginal value in large part because of the number of latecomers now in the system. (Yes, I'm being elitist here).
        For a more modern case, Farmville will add a certain amount of value to its system, as arguably the best game of its kind. The next such game will add less value in the eyes of most current users, even if it's arguably a better game, because more 'clueless newbies' will join in the meantime.

Re:All they need to do is everything (1)

Moe1975 (885721) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261356)

Amen!

Very well put, and I agree 100%

MOE

Re:All they need to do is everything (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259098)

freedom boxes — low-price, ultra-small, plug it into the wall personal servers

These are just going to be one more thing that the IT people in families and neighborhoods will have to support and 'disinfect'. I am not looking forward to the 'freedom' these devices will deliver. Not one bit.

key word: THEY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33260944)

And even if it did start working, THEY won't allow it.

I for one... (3, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259016)

...can't wait for these wall-wart 'freedom boxes' to get rooted on an astronomical scale.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259044)

If I remember correctly, it is us who rooted the boxes from the alien ships. Will Smith is still alive, so we're safe.

MIB (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259742)

If I remember correctly, it is us who rooted the boxes from the alien ships. Will Smith is still alive, so we're safe.

But how do you know this? I thought Will Smith pointed his flashy thing at you to make you forget.

Re:I for one... (3, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259172)

...can't wait for these wall-wart 'freedom boxes' to get rooted on an astronomical scale.

Or for laws requiring all such devices to be pre-rooted according to government specifications in various countries. Also making all non-rooted devices illegal to own or operate without a special license. Of course, this would probably lead to astronomically large security holes for others to exploit, and which you are not allowed to patch.

Re:I for one... (2, Interesting)

RichardDeVries (961583) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259698)

Moglen's reply to this in the video is that he expects the boxes to spread before lawmakers catch on, similar to the way PGP made the Cipperchip and the banning of other encryption methods a failure.

one of the best points (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33260272)

has been that we must move quickly to beat the 'authorities'. but once they catch up we must have something that is resilient to attack from the 'owners' of the network.

Re:I for one... (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260006)

So we'll end up with two boxes. One for the government (a honeypot of sorts), and one for illegal uses :)

Re:I for one... (1, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259770)

If the hardware is genuinely free, then what in the world is there to "root"? That concept only makes sense with nonsense like Apple/Google telephones.

Re:I for one... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33260188)

Before consumer device that the consumer did not control, "root" actually referred to taking over someone else's device that you were not supposed to control.

Re:I for one... (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261118)

Against a background of billions of rooted Windows boxen it would be such a faint sound that it would be lost in the din. At last count [confickerw...ggroup.org] just one Windows botnet - Conficker - was probing the Internet from 630 million unique IPv4 addresses, or more than one seventh the theoretical total possible number of IP addresses - down from 700 million. Conficker is just one of dozens of botnets.

I guess the lesson here is that if your network is accepting communications from the public Internet, if your server is accepting communications from your intranet and not assuming that every address it's responding to is compromised, you're doing it wrong. The network is an untrusted space - always.

A tethered balloon (-1, Troll)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259036)

is still not free...

Or is the cloud entirely wireless now?

Re:A tethered balloon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259136)

That's one of the dumbest things that I've ever read here.

Re:A tethered balloon (2, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259378)

That's one of the dumbest things that I've ever read here.

I don't know... you've written some spectacularly dumb things, Mr. Anonymous Coward.

Re:A tethered balloon (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259616)

Nevermind... Probably doesn't read much.. And the message went straight over her head anyway..

Re:A tethered balloon (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260756)

You try cranking them out as fast as good old AC does, and your quality will probably drop too.

Re:A tethered balloon (1, Troll)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259358)

Troll, eh?

Please tell me how well will your cloud work when you can be cut off with the flip of the switch? Three strikes, and you're out. And how many of your ISPs let you run a web, ftp, or any other kind of server? Read your contract... They could probably nail you for your bittorrent

It could be so. (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260960)

Well with the right mesh software and some cheap high-gain antennas, yes. We can circumvent the power of incumbent networks in urban and suburban areas by building our own Othernet - where everyone can be anonymous and the limit of bandwidth is the contributed aggregate. Latency would be too high for gaming and VOIP outside the local area - but local sharing, VOIP and gaming would be fine. Encrypted offsite backups on a cooperative basis could be arranged. We could help each other in our mutual best interest. We could even build neighborhood clouds if we wanted to. In LA, in New York, in all of the major markets it's absurd that people pay for Internet links when all of the value is flowing the other way across the link. Building our own networks would shift the balance of power. IPv6 could be helpful here.

We need a WAP wizard to set us free, someone to market the guerilla wireless Othernet and related devices. A few brave souls to get it started. That's all. Some people are already doing this with fiber or copper gigabit fenceline networks, using wireless bridges to cross rights-of-way (roads and so on). Most of us posting here have more advanced networking in our homes (gigabit), more powerful PC's, more storage left unused (many terabytes) than the core Internet had in 1995. That should be sufficient for our towns or cities now. Wireless bandwidth is up to a limit of 600mbps, which will do for crossing a highway.

We've been conditioned by our consumer societies to accept that the wire that connects us to The Internet is based on a bill from a company. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are the value in the Internet - consumers with desires to be fed. Network enough of us together and the wider Internet will build a bridge to us . Ultimately the idea of paying for Internet could and should go away for most of us. Let the vendors build the road if they want our consumers in their markets. This is entirely what Google's high-speed broadband initiative is about. The people are the money, and the links are currently too slow to capture all but a small fraction of it.

Re:It could be so. (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261060)

A few brave souls to get it started. That's all.

I wish it were so...

Therre have been and still are guerilla wireless networks [wafreenet.org] , and as you say, we are the value in the Internet, but we are not valuable when we question and create the content ourselves.

In the early days of the internet, the freenet (yes, it has been around that long) was almost as valuable as the non-free one. Now though, expectations are different, and freenets can't grow fast enough to be anything more than a pallid and dated reflection of the main act.

Re:It could be so. (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261210)

In the early days of the internet, the freenet (yes, it has been around that long) was almost as valuable as the non-free one.

I was there. In the early days the freenet was more valuable than the Internet simply because the Internet was not to be had by common people. Expectations are indeed now different, and that's curious. These expectations are built of nothing but advertising. They have no substance.

I could - hell, I might - connect an aggregate 5,000 homes to a localnet. Between us we earn $300M a year and typically spend it all. It's a market. What idiot wouldn't pay to connect to it? With that I'm not going a half mile from my house. Stretch it out to a mile and you can triple those figures. I don't live in a rich area - I'm in the burbs of a secondary market. In Manhattan that much income is not even one apartment building. In LA one property development might be 10 Billion dollars a year market or more. To ask those people to pay for a fast Internet connection is just ridiculous. We have been sold a bill of goods.

The Internet desires us more than we desire it. We are the engine of economic growth. It should come to us, not the other way around.

Obligatory... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259052)

Imagine a Freedom Beowulf Cluster!

Re:Obligatory... (0, Flamebait)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259096)

The world already has one of those. It's called the U.S. Military.

Any tech specs yet? (2, Insightful)

blcss (886739) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259072)

Hoping not to have to set aside the time to wade through all the annoying happy talk just to find out there's no technical meat. Someone please just tell me: are they nailing down a protocol spec first so that we can all do our own interoperable implementations, or at least all contribute code, and so not have the time wasting nightmare that was the Freenet project?

Re:Any tech specs yet? (5, Informative)

mrogers (85392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259208)

Someone please just tell me: are they nailing down a protocol spec first so that we can all do our own interoperable implementations, or at least all contribute code, and so not have the time wasting nightmare that was the Freenet project?

They've done better than that: they've written the code, bundled it into a convenient cross-platform installer, documented everything, and ported a ton of apps to run on top of it, including BitTorrent clients, web servers, anonymous email and IRC. It's all free as in speech and free as in beer, and there's a supportive community of developers and users.

Yeah, I know, I couldn't believe it either. It's called I2P. [i2p2.de]

I2P? (2, Insightful)

blcss (886739) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259994)

Ugh. It's in Java!

I'm sorry. I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I just don't need the headaches that come with a Java runtime. Easy installation and maintenance is a must for a successful end user software. Adding a runtime that isn't really all that open source mucks things up needlessly. Plus it runs more slowly.

I like Tor. I'd like to see a distributed Facebook clone built atop Tor.

Re:I2P? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260262)

It looks like they were working on GCJ support a long time ago. This mailing list post from 2005 [mail-archive.com] says it was working with some minor issues. I would suspect the current version would also compile under GCJ... if it doesn't, submit a bug report. I agree that relying on the Java runtime complicates installation and might make it slower (it certainly means that the start time is slower, but i2p is intended to be a long-running application and JITs sometimes do better with those overall).

Re:I2P? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33260384)

LOL

And so the dream of an open cloud everywhere dies, fragmented into a million snobbish factions where nobody can agree on the right way to proceed long enough to actually get shit working.

"This is the way the world ends:
This is the way the world ends:
This is the way the world ends:
Not with a bang, but a whimper."

Re:Any tech specs yet? (2, Interesting)

gringer (252588) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260230)

When I click on that I2P link from my university, I get this:

Access Denied

Your request was denied because of its content categorization: "Proxy Avoidance"

If you believe this is an error, please contact the ITS Service Desk.

That actually gives me a better idea about what it does than the parent.

Re:Any tech specs yet? (0, Redundant)

PrecambrianRabbit (1834412) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259240)

I couldn't tell you. Even looking at a transcript (which I posted below), I didn't have the patience to cut through all the BS. He says "freedom" or "free" or some permutation thereof pretty much every 15 seconds, which I just couldn't take for more than a few minutes.

I don't get it (2, Insightful)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259092)

Am I misunderstanding, or is the entire premise of this vision relying on 99 dollar, Linux powered, "plausible deniability" boxes?

How does encryption tie into a 99 dollar wall-wart? Privacy? Mesh networking for country living?

I just don't see it.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259434)

Read Doctorow's Little Brother; that'll give you a pretty clear picture of this guy's vision.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260020)

Please don't read it, it's reallty not a very good book.

As software engineers, the EFF are good lawyers... (4, Insightful)

dominion (3153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259114)

I see where he's going with this, and while I expect that certain aspects of the concepts will eventually be implemented in different ways, we have to be clear that the idea of everyday people administering their own servers is just not practical. I realize everyone here sees it as something we're willing to invest our time in, but most people don't. Servers exist for a reason, there are people (called system administrators) who can specialize in making sure the server software you're accessing, your data, etc. all are secure and have 99% uptime.

I'm not the kind of person who thinks that there is a divide between a sort of tech elite and the unwashed masses who will never understand this stuff. I'm one of those people who thinks that even your grandmother can learn how to recompile Apache given enough time, interest and dedication. The problem is that doctors are busy being doctors, plumbers are busy being plumbers, parents are busy being parents, and so on an so on. Even as a software developer, I prefer to not administer my own servers if I don't have to. I have friends who are very intelligent people who are very accomplished in non-computing fields who use virus and adware-ridden Windows machines. I don't suspect they're interested in taking the time necessary to fully secure a server that holds a digital representation of their life.

So this idea of a total peer-to-peer networking is not an approach I think we should pursue, not because it's not technically achievable (it totally is), but because it's not practical on a social level. This is reflected in the difference between Appleseed's approach to open source social networking and Diaspora's: Appleseed uses a federated node structure, and Diaspora claims to use a P2P, although we haven't seen the code yet, this was the original promise, and since the EFF is backing the project, it fits in with what Moglen is suggesting here.

We'll see where we end up, but I worry that if we push for Moglen's approach, we may see a small ghetto of tech savvy users who adopt it, while everyone else chooses to remain with the proprietary systems, because they're just that much less hassle. It makes much more sense to me to push for federated, hosted solutions, so that an ecosystem of servers (administered by professionals) can exist, and users can move freely between them.

Michael Chisari
http://opensource.appleseedproject.org/ [appleseedproject.org]

Re:As software engineers, the EFF are good lawyers (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259126)

Servers exist for a reason

Unfortunately, the reason is no longer "to make it easy for people who cannot administrate their own server." All too often, the reason is becoming "to collect data from people and sell it to marketers, by convincing them to do things they were already doing before on a server that is programmed to collect data."

Like so many other things, though, I see this is as becoming relegated to geeks who actually care about the issues, and remaining completely unknown among the majority of people. Case-in-point: email cryptography; most people are not doing it, not because it takes too much effort to verify keys, but because they are completely unaware of cryptography.

Re:As software engineers, the EFF are good lawyers (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259250)

Case-in-point: email cryptography; most people are not doing it, not because it takes too much effort to verify keys, but because they are completely unaware of cryptography.

Sure I could do that at work but we are forced to use Exchange now, and for me that means OWA on Linux. I could paste in ASCII armored PGP messages but I am pretty sure that this would get me a tap on the shoulder from corporate IT with the possibility of being shown the door on the spot.

So fair enough its their workplace but some countries are going the same way (see UAE vs RIM) and my country (Australia) wants port blocks and filtering on http.

So maybe encrypting your email will eventually be regarded as a security risk (for the country, not the individual) eventually.

Re:As software engineers, the EFF are good lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33261160)

You mean online media companies are acting kind of like magazine, radio, and TV companies? You'd think that if people in general had such a huge problem with that, they'd have made a bit more of a stink about it before it hit online media. But, no, people generally realize that the advertising roles of the media they consume are the major subsidizers of that media, and although they may be somewhat annoyed at the marketing aspect, they put up with it knowingly. And people don't use cryptography because they don't, in general, feel a need for it. Kind of like how they hold conversations in public without worrying about being overheard, or talk on telephones that could easily be tapped.

Re:As software engineers, the EFF are good lawyers (1, Informative)

_Knots (165356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259174)

> and users can move freely between them.

The proprietary world has yet to invent a mechanism for that, and it's been a known problem for a long while (decades). Data "liberation" is challenging and, even if you don't think that is a problem, cross-realm authentication is all but nonexistent. They have little incentive to provide these things unless people demand them, and by and large people don't. (And before you bring up LiveJournal's OpenID protocol, I've two things to say: 1) it's not worthy of the trust placed in it because not all parties srongly authenticate each other, and 2) note that commercial OpenID providers do not, and fundamentally cannot by nature of the beast, make it easy to transition from an identity rooted at one to an identity rooted at another.)

The only truly distributed bring-your-identity-with-you schemes out there have come from the open, usually academic, world: PGP, SPKI/SDSI, E rights, the Petname system and protocol, and so on. Similarly, shared, secure-against-the-owner storage is not something social network companies have huge incentives to produce, but it exists in open research: TAHOE-LAFS exists and Diaspora has made vague promises to being similarly secure.

Not practical, but a great dream... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259210)

When I saw this story I had just finished watching this movie [wikipedia.org] .

There's a part when the Canned Heat is playing that a guy jumps on the stage and hugs the singer. He embraces the invader and keeps singing. When the instrumental part starts the singer whispers something in the guy's ear and the security people carry him away. Those were civilized times.

Freedom works, that's how the Cold War was won from the Soviet Empire.

In the freedom vs. security war a thousand battles are lost by the freedom side every day everywhere but in the end freedom always wins.

System administrators are the big brothers who keep us all safe, but we are better off if we have at least some bit of insecurity. I think a peer to peer network is the best idea, not because it's practical in a day to day basis, but because, practical or not, the unwashed masses always know better.

Freedom works? (3, Interesting)

S3D (745318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261032)

Freedom works, that's how the Cold War was won from the Soviet Empire.

I'm not sure. It seems the other way around. As soon as Cold War ended freedom in western democracies stated deteriorate gradually. Seems the Cold War was what was keeping freedom alive in democratic countries. Or may be a conservation law is at work here - as freedom increase in one place it decrease in another.

Re:As software engineers, the EFF are good lawyers (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260986)

+1 insightful.

Transcript (4, Informative)

PrecambrianRabbit (1834412) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259166)

For people who hate watching video as much as I do, here's a transcript: http://www.softwarefreedom.org/events/2010/isoc-ny/FreedomInTheCloud-transcript.html [softwarefreedom.org]

Re:Transcript (2, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259186)

For anyone who reads the transcript, can someone explain to me how these boxes function fundamentally differently than a PC already running the freenet app [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Transcript (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259264)

A PC's a PC, and a Web Server's a Web Server. Anyone can set up Apache and host a website. Some people think they gain freedom by hosting it themselves, but the vast majority of people just want something that works. Which is why Facebook will be very hard to replace.

Re:Transcript (5, Interesting)

paxcoder (1222556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259286)

I guess that Tor or Freenet are two of the things that would be run on these. Then there's your mail which you don't let Google read, there is social networking secure with PGP (and so is your mail) - so under your control. The main thing is it all runs 24/7, comes pretty much preconfigured, and as said, is more convenient than a dumb router. Then there is telephony which I ommitted - who gives you encryption for your calls? Well now you can. There is also absolutely no reason why one should pay so much for a simple thing as sending an SMS. Your own web server if you want, torrent, versioning system I don't know... You've got CPU time to spare so BOINC perhaps.
In short, you have a simple to use server of your own and don't need to use loads of third party web services anymore. It's you and perhaps your friends - the *real* trusted computing. Think of your own application for this. Federated things are a way to go, lest we want to loose our freedom.

Re:Transcript (3, Interesting)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259514)

I've had similar ideas (and haven't RTFA), but keep in mind how much can be done with web apps, AJAX, and html5, especially if you know that your personal webserver is on a relative high-speed line. Not just secure access to your mail and such, or streaming media, but if you securely stream to web applications running on your own box, which will also do whatever crazy geeky crap you can script into it on the backend, like giving you a list of your photos sorted by hair color or whatever.

Plus, I for one would love to have an IM client that splits out to all my existing IM endpoints, so if it were to come with its own XMPP server plus gateways, super-big plus. And hey! Add an html5 IM "client" in the same package and you're cooking with gas. One login for you, logs are always kept in the same place, and if you want to connect securely to someone else who also has their own server, all you need is an IP address, and then it's literally just the two of you.

If you have your own "cloud" in a way that is powerful, secure, and fast, "cloud computing" with thin clients (down to and including ChromeOS) becomes pretty darn reasonable.

Actually, has anyone made a window manager over HTML5 yet...?

Re:Transcript (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33260550)

Part of what you mention sounds like the closed-source HTML IM client Meebo [wikimedia.org] which uses libpurple (Pidgin) for communicating with IM networks. Its Javascript interface may qualify as a "HTML5 window manager". I have seen some "desktop in a browser window" projects, although I can't remember any at the moment.

AIM (and possibly other IM protocols) supports "direct connect" which does what you describe for IM... although just having OTR (end-to-end encryption for IM -- I use it with most of my IM contacts, partially because it is built into Adium which is basically the standard IM client for Mac OS X) is pretty good. It does not protect you from frequency analysis which direct connect does, but at least the IM server doesn't know what you are saying.

Re:Transcript (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260684)

I'm aware of direct connect; my point was that when both parties are running their own XMPP servers, connecting them is trivial, including end-to-end encryption.

But you're right, a well-featured HTML plugin for libpurple would work instead of going that far.

Re:Transcript (5, Informative)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259300)

The idea is to have a small box, which does not use a lot of power. Which you can use to securely communicate with your friends in a distributed fashion, without someone else having the logs they can analyze and sell to companies, like Facebook is doing.

A small server which is simple to use, easy to update (most people shouldn't need to admin their own box) and backup. It will hold your data, and possible your friends (you keep my backup, I keep yours, encrypted ofcourse, think: duplicity ).

Re:Transcript (1)

Tim99 (984437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260424)

The idea is to have a small box, which does not use a lot of power

A small server which is simple to use, easy to update (most people shouldn't need to admin their own box) and backup. It will hold your data, and possible your friends (you keep my backup, I keep yours, encrypted ofcourse, think: duplicity).

These already exist. One that I can personally recommend is here: http://excito.com/ [excito.com] .
Unfortunately the price is $350 rather than $99, but I guess the price would come down dramatically if millons were sold.

Re:Transcript (2, Insightful)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259392)

Freenet is hideously slow. If you can't stream video through it, it's not going to happen.

Re:Transcript (3, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260170)

I've never understood the point of streaming video. It's choppy, it eats up unnecessary bandwidth, if you want to view a segment twice you'll download the data twice, and it overloads the server trying to give everyone who's streaming a good quality experience simultaneously.

Videos should be downloaded, and viewed from the local hard disk.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259200)

Thank you! Since YouTube rose to prominence, so much unnecessary video content has been produced, especially when it comes to software-related presentations.

For every software-related presentation where video is useful, there are hundreds of other videoed presentations where a transcript containing a few code snippets and some screenshots would've been much more effective at conveying the message.

The worst are those involving some non-native English speaker who can write English perfectly fine, but can't speak it worth a damn. So they stand there for an hour, speaking unintelligibly, often exhibiting poor presentation practices like standing in front of the screen or talking quietly. I don't have an hour to waste watching such bullshit. Had they just written an article, they'd have gotten their message across perfectly and within a few minutes rather than an hour.

SRT files (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259866)

Had they just written an article, they'd have gotten their message across perfectly and within a few minutes rather than an hour.

SRT (SubRip text [wikipedia.org] ) is a file format containing timed text, where each piece of text has a start and end time. YouTube accepts SRT for subtitles, as seen in this video [youtube.com] . So do HTML5 audio and video [whatwg.org] . So ideally, if you want to read a video instead of watching it, your user agent should provide a way to view the SRT directly.

Re:Transcript (1)

TheMiller (520200) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259572)

Thank you.

Re:Transcript (2, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260066)

Is there a Braille [wikipedia.org] transcript of the transcript for those of us who hate reading with our eyes?

Freedom to migrate (1)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259226)

Your data, and consequently you or your business, can be locked into an application even on your own server. I fully support the people running their own distributed server architecture but I think one important step toward that is getting data portability, part of what I call a new fifth Freedom to Migrate [trygnulinux.com] .

Freenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259246)

Put Freenet [freenetproject.org] on those boxes and i get what i understand by the term "freedom".

Finally. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259274)

I like to rape and kill kids and post videos of it on the Internet. Now I will be able to do it without fear of prosecution. Let freedom ring!

Freedom Boxes (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259284)

Great idea, but will they really be practical without net neutrality? ISPs seem determined to choke us of enough bandwidth to host our own servers without some 'premium' package or some other sort of BS. For both home and work (small business), it's cheaper for me to pay for remote server space even though I'd prefer not to.

I don't like the word 'cloud' at all, either. It's just a buzzword for server the tech-world is trying to convince the business-world they can't live without. It gets guys like my boss to ask me, "I keep hearing about this cloud thing, it sounds like we need to get on that, should we?" No.

Re:Freedom Boxes (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259364)

its not just that, many users are running over ADSL - asynchronous - where the download is deliberately fast, but the upload is limited. This is exactly what most people want, but it doesn't fit with running your own server. Its a nice idea, but I think more suitable for The Cloud (tm) where all your servers are stored on Amazon or elsewhere. Of course, unless you get free computing space, its not going to take off.

In which case, I suppose its a bit like people getting their own Geocities pages.

Re:Freedom Boxes (2, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260064)

Well, firstly I think it*'s assumed that bandwidth gets faster, better and cheaper. This may or may not happen and will probably vary wildly by geographic region.

Secondly, have you heard of WASTE? It hides its traffic by using multiple ports, changing bitrates and packet sizes, wrapping encrypted data in SMTP, HTTP or other protocols and generally being sneaky.

Seems like a cool strategy to me!

The biggest problem with this is port blocking. (3, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259304)

I love pointing out unnecessary port blocking in the U.S. - most major U.S. ISP's block port 80 outbound, along with various other mostly email and FTP related ports just for the hell of it. I know that Time Warner, before it left Houston, had a nasty habit of sniffing traffic and if they determined you had a VPN session open to a work based server they insisted you buy a pro account.

Re:The biggest problem with this is port blocking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259560)

You don't need to use any port with this...there could be several ports. Most online-multiplayer games require port forwarding for "hosting" a match, which gamers will insist remains possible. So we really don't need to worry about this.

Re:The biggest problem with this is port blocking. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259882)

I love pointing out unnecessary port blocking in the U.S.

If Verizon's concession on net neutrality over cable and DSL goes through, such port blocking will become a thing of the past.

Re:The biggest problem with this is port blocking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33260040)

Some ISPs are turning over a new leaf. I remember for the longest time Verizon had outbound port 80 traffic blocked. Then one day...they didn't. This was about 18 - 24 months ago that I noticed it.

Re:The biggest problem with this is port blocking. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260062)

I ditched them about 14 months ago and it was still blocked. I had 20 Mbps fiber that slowly got downgraded to about 4 Mbps fiber with no reduction in bill or notification.

hmm.. (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259396)

"and even help your friends bypass any censorship by encrypting and routing their traffic." This is actually a reason for it not to go mainstream... if you see what I mean...

An excuse (4, Interesting)

ksandom (718283) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259424)

I'm split on this. Mostly I think it's excellent because it sounds feasible to get a lot of people behind it, which would then make it quite effective. It'll bring back a level of "privacy" that we took for granted not many years ago. It will also open up the connotations that come with that, although I'm sure that has/will be discussed to tiring length.

But where my concern really is, is the trend that those in power see something like this as if it's only purpose is crime. They will be scared of this, because it will undermine their ability to do their job. When there's something they are scared of, they clamp down on it and make an example of someone. If you're that person it doesn't matter if you've done anything wrong, because they will find something, and bend it to the context that allows them to say you've broken a law. eg It could be an image sitting in your browser cache that they can object to based on someones' religion, that came in an ad on a page.

Early adopters will face significantly higher risk than those adopting once the project is well established. In this countext I see three distinct routes:

  1. Manage the athorities' and public view: Ideally sell the idea to them that this is a good thing for them. I can't think what angle that would be, but it would be worth it. Convince them that this isn't the evil devil they will otherwise assume it to be.
  2. Ignore the authorities: Take a chance and go for it. Don't rub it in their faces. Just get on with it and try not to make a scene.
  3. Rub it in their faces: Highlight that this is going to let people bypass their precious proxies that combat terrorism.

At one end of the scale, you may even get buy in, but hopefully won't attract too much negative attention. Potentially, you may have a more "legit" user base who have positive community concerns. At the other end of the scale, things could get rather ugly. The authorities will. not. like. you. They will do everything in their power to shut you down, and there will be significant risk to innocent people who had good intentions at heart. This is also very likely to attract the people who the authorities will have a legitimate concern over. You're going to get those in any scenario, but the proportions will make a big difference.

Take care. I really do believe this has a legitimate positive place in modern society.

nobody cares about freedom. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259476)

Nobody care about freedom, and that is why the idea is doomed. People want to connect with their friends on facebook. You start talking about computing freedom, their eyes glaze over and they suddenly remember they need to go clean their fish tank.

99% of people only care about their own personal convenience at the moment. Nothing beyond that.

The internet, not the platform, is the cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259630)

We already have cloud computing. Anyone with a desktop or a laptop participates. We're the protocol stack acting as the proxies for each website, manually propagating stories by email or blogging..

What we really need is the equivalent of TCP/IP for social networking. A protocol that anyone can develop any software for. Because I guarentee you, once Disporea is done it'll just be the same programming language holywars, backend storage arguments, security concerns, comparisons to facebook. Etc.

Make a protocol, a real protocol, not JSON, take something off the shelf and come up with useful ways to trade information. Folks will build libraries on top of that, frameworks on top of that, and finally applications on that.

Properly designed protocols last a long time. Applications are obsolete within weeks or months.

Re:The internet, not the platform, is the cloud (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259948)

"Properly designed protocols last a long time. Applications are obsolete within weeks or months."
Mod parent up (even being an AC).

Re:The internet, not the platform, is the cloud (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259958)

My own attempt at such a standard protocol: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pointrel/ [sourceforge.net]
It is based around transaction of lists of RDF-like triples.

We are doing our part. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33259824)

We are doing our part at http://amahi.org Come see what our wall wart can do.

Treehouse (1)

joh (27088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259852)

In Otherland there's Treehouse (I can't believe it, there's no Wikipedia article for it!) which is no fixed thing but somehow hovers over the 'net. The only way to free the Cloud would be to use it for and by some "underground" protocol(s) or application(s). Use encrypted, distributed and redundant storage whereever you can find it and have an own way to use it, with no dedicated servers and no central user database.

I don't think you can free the cloud but maybe you can install a free ghost on it. It's silly to fight the cloud (and it's expensive too -- when costs come, the freedom goes), it may better to just use it.

It may be to late... (3, Insightful)

novar21 (1694492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259858)

Just look at what some governments are telling Research In Motion (blackberries) that they have to hand over the encryption keys. I am not sure that they will allow such systems to exist. Sad state of affairs when one does not have a right to privacy. The public might think its cool at first, then FUD will be spread and the average Joe will be prohibited from installing such a device. Nice concept, but the governments will not allow this to take off. It might be best for this to unfold slowly and without much fan fair. Then if it is designed properly, it will become hard for governments to discern who has these units. But then again the old witch hunts may start again. Just plain sad over all.

Use the cloud for a Social Semantic Desktop (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33259898)

The Pointrel approach towards that by me: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pointrel/ [sourceforge.net]
But see also NEPOMUK etc. http://semanticweb.org/wiki/Semantic_Desktop [semanticweb.org]
Working towards use as FOSS public intelligence tools: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1746980&cid=33177866 [slashdot.org]

Why Eben Moglen is misguided... (3, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260502)

OK, I just read the transcript here: http://www.softwarefreedom.org/events/2010/isoc-ny/FreedomInTheCloud-transcript.html [softwarefreedom.org]

And I'm not saying I don't respect Eben Moglen, or what he says there. Sure, he lays out great ideas, ideas worth doing.

But he is still misguided. The war he is proposing to fight mainly with distributed home-based technology to ensure some privacy through encryption can't be won. As long as we have an economic system based mostly on greed (and also ignorance), everything he tries to do will fail, if only because, after he wins, greed will buy new laws from ignorant people and put him in jail, and then greed will go house to house and pull every one of those wall warts out, getting neighbors to turn in neighbors who have them ("If you see something, say something"), same as people with radios were turned in in various countries in WWII. See:
    "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, But Then It Was Too Late"
    http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html [uchicago.edu]

He should know that ISPs will be able to track down every one of those things in short order, if only by hiring a million people out of the 20 million or more unemployed in the USA to go house-by-house with blanket search warrants and portable packet sniffers looking for "unlicensed" equipment. And other countries will find the things even faster. So, his approach is, at best, a slightly delaying and confusing action. Greed and ignorance will win unless we directly address greed and ignorance (well, even addressing greed and ignorance indirectly and subtly may be OK, too. :-).

Do I have an alternative? Yes I do. As I outlined here:
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1746980&cid=33177866 [slashdot.org]
where I wrote the following paragraph:

As I see it, there is a race going on. The race is between two trends. On the one hand, the internet can be used to profile and round up dissenters to the scarcity-based economic status quo (thus legitimate worries about privacy and something like TIA). On the other hand, the internet can be used to change the status quo in various ways (better designs, better science, stronger social networks advocating for things like a basic income, all supported by better structured arguments like with the Genoa II approach)
        http://w2.eff.org/Privacy/TIA/genoaII.php [eff.org]
to the point where there is abundance for all and rounding up dissenters to mainstream economics is a non-issue because material abundance is everywhere. So, as Bucky Fuller said, whether is will be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end. While I can't guarantee success at the second option of using the internet for abundance for all, I can guarantee that if we do nothing, the first option of using the internet to round up dissenters (or really, anybody who is different, like was done using IBM computers in WWII Germany) will probably prevail. So, I feel the global public really needs access to these sorts of sensemaking tools in an open source way, and the way to use them is not so much to "fight back" as to "transform and/or transcend the system". As Bucky Fuller said, you never change thing by fighting the old paradigm directly; you change things by inventing a new way that makes the old paradigm obsolete.

Now, might such a public intelligence system run well on a system of wall warts like he describes? It probably would. But it does not absolutely need them. So, while they may be useful, the conception of cooperative sensemaking and cooperative design of a better future is by far more important.

And here is a document I put together that decribes four heterodox economic alternatives to move forward with (a basic income, a gift economy, democratic resource-based planning, and stronger local self-reliant communities):
  http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery/ [google.com]

Of course, maybe I'm just still annoyed that almost a decade ago, before Wikipedia was really happening (though it had started), when I asked RMS, and he asked Eben Moglen, if a click through grant of license was enough to create web communities creating freely license knowledge of various sorts, Eben Moglen said "No", and that I'd still need to get signed waivers because international law was not in agreement on click through. :-) Related:
    http://osdir.com/ml/lang.smalltalk.squeak.foundation/2002-01/msg00077.html [osdir.com]
He may have been right in theory and actual law, but he was wrong in social practice, as the subsequent success of Wikipedia attests too. I feel that again, here, he is right in theory (for example, yeah, let's take back our government by voting etc., great in theory, but few others voted for the progressive candidates I voted for for president like Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, instead voting for obvious Corpocrats...). But in practice, Eben Moglen is wrong to focus on beating the socio-economic system through distributed technology instead of just making it obsolete (and so allowing us to someday move beyond a system that gives us Republocrats in office no matter how we vote as well as the repressive laws they pass to make their rich and greedy supporters happy). Which is ironic because he uses that exact wording -- about making Facebook obsolete. But in practice, he is just aiming way too low. We need to make mainstream economics obsolete. Well, it already is obsolete, but we need to finish building a better socio-economic infrastructure to replace it, and the gift economy behind much free software is part of that (though it is not enough by itself). Where he is misguided is not acknowledging that the most worthwhile purpose or creating technology is to help this transition to abundance for all; just fighting to preserve a few rights severely under attack by the greedy, in an age where technology is such an amplifier, is not going to end well, unless the benefit of the delaying action is to give a bit more time to develop these technologies of abundance. Eben Moglen does a great job of outlining a problem (spying everywhere from greed) but his solution, to stop the spying, really does not get at the heart of the matter, which is more to build a society where material greed is not such a central part. One example of a different way to think about greed and financial obesity:
    http://www.smallisbeautiful.org/buddhist_economics/english.html [smallisbeautiful.org]

Some recent examples of greed and related (often intentionally created) ignorance poisoning our society:
    http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm [lexrex.com]
    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/17b.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]
    http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2000/03/press.htm [theatlantic.com]
    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710--.htm [chomsky.info]
    http://www.helium.com/items/1882339-doomsday-how-bp-gulf-disaster-may-have-triggered-a-world-killing-event [helium.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rofecoxib#Withdrawal [wikipedia.org]

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."

How are Eben Moglen's wall warts going to stop more of those -- unless the vision is a lot bigger, where wall worts are not just resisting privacy invasion but are instead part of a network to build a society that is healthy, joyfull, intrinisically scure, mutually secure, diverse, and resilient, with material abundance and an abundance of free time for all?

Still, I respect Eben Moglen and admire his efforts and his heart. I hope for him, like I hope for all other FSF people including RMS, that he is getting the right amount of vitamin D, being indoors so much.
      http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/treatment.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]
Which is likely another situation where many people have been harmed by greed and ignorance:
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1753800&cid=33250896 [slashdot.org]

Also related:
http://www.cedmagic.com/featured/christmas-carol/1951-xmas-ignorance-want.html [cedmagic.com]
"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."

Eben Moglen's Wall Warts could help erase the Doom written from greed and ignorance, but what matters most is what they are used for in a coherent way. Still, I'd suggest that they are not needed. It is a safer assumption to just assume everyone works for the CIA and to build transformative organizations that work in that paradigm, as I suggest here:
    http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/msg/ae28e8971f8f9669?hl=en [google.com]

Ignorance, Apathy, and Greed (3, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260536)

One other link: :-) http://www.progress.org/fold21.htm [progress.org]
"Social reformers must first eliminate their own ignorance to educate themselves to gain knowledge of the basic causes and remedies for social problems, including the economics, politics, and ethics of the problems and solutions. Then when they educate others, they must at the same time invoke their antipathy to the problem and arouse their sympathy with the remedy. When the masses are roused with sympathy and armed with knowledge of the remedy, the few greedy opponents will either be swayed themselves to join the righteous battle, or be overwhelmed by the greater force of the righteous revolution. To remedy social ills, replace ignorance, apathy and greed with knowledge, sympathy, and charity. "

And another link, while I am at it, too:
    "What Social Science Can Tell Us About Social Change"
    http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/change/science.html [ucsc.edu]

Re:Why Eben Moglen is misguided... (0, Troll)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33260792)

tl;dr. When you brought in the WWII Germans, I saw this as just shy of a Godwin and tuned out. How did this get modded up? Followed by, who is going to follow all those links?

Re:Why Eben Moglen is misguided... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33261080)

The war he is proposing to fight mainly with distributed home-based technology to ensure some privacy through encryption can't be won. As long as we have an economic system based mostly on greed (and also ignorance), everything he tries to do will fail, if only because, after he wins, greed will buy new laws from ignorant people and put him in jail, and then greed will go house to house and pull every one of those wall warts out, getting neighbors to turn in neighbors who have them ("If you see something, say something"), same as people with radios were turned in in various countries in WWII ....
Do I have an alternative? Yes I do. ....
On the other hand, the internet can be used to change the status quo in various ways (better designs, better science, stronger social networks advocating for things like a basic income, all supported by better structured arguments like with the Genoa II approach)

In other words, you oppose freedom and want some sort of socialist paradise. Oooh please reply how I can't be free with the boot of Microsoft on my neck. A boot constructed of socialist/statist conventions of patents and copyrights. Yes, there isn't fuck to do about freedom or capitalism when it comes to patents, copyrights, state-licensing of professionals or about a million other problems you misattribute in your quest. If they are going to outlaw mesh networks and rip out the wall warts then they should fucking outlaw mesh networks and rip out the wall warts. That a statist prick like yourself would throw in the towel even prior to the attempt is proof you don't want his vision and you don't have an alternative. That is fine. But you do not have an alternative promoting crap like Genoa II [wikipedia.org] . You have a different agenda and are too fucking dishonest to admit it. Fuck, you actually push an Orwellian vision as an alternative to encrypted, nearly-impossible-to-stop-or-monitor communication?

If both the govenrment and big business fear it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33260858)

Darknets... if the government and big business fear these things then you can bet that they are worth looking at. We need to start looking at our personal data input / output as valuable and personal and something that we give access to on our own terms. For the next 100 years there's going to be an arguement about the rights that private citizens have to make their data and communications secure, kind of secure, or open.

Decentralized Architecture Won't Protect Privacy (3, Insightful)

crf00 (1048098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261038)

Email is a decentralized protocol, but there are reasons why people give up their privacy and prefer web mail for convenience. What Eben Moglen described is basically making decentralized protocols for everything including social networks and such. But even when we created the perfect decentralized protocols of everything, I don't think that it will prevent data mining and protect user's privacy.

To simplify the view, just lets say we can do everything with email, let's say all the user's personal data are stored in email messages. To really protect my privacy, not only I'd have to host all my emails, but I'd have to set up my own email server as well. Not only I shouldn't use the web interface, but I also should't use the POP/IMAP/SMTP services that Gmail or Yahoo or my ISP provides. Now building my own web interface would not be so hard, as I'm hosting my own server. But making sure of my server is on most of the time and physically managing and backup my email data on my server would not be so trivial. What happen if I travel oversea and my server crashed or my home went out of electricity? What happen if disaster happened and everything in my house including the server and backup are gone?

So have these problems are exactly the reason why people choose Gmail. By hosting the server on the cloud, all the uptime, backup, and management problems are solved out of the box. Of course there might be better solution than Gmail, but I doubt if it will success commercially. Now lets say we created free software stack that performs better than Gmail and work out of the box. With the software in hand, all we need is just a place to host the server. User would then have three choices: 1. Buy a server plug and host it at home, 2. Purchase web hosting and host it as a black box in the cloud, and 3. Let Google host the same software for free but with storage and data shared with everyone. While option 2 is supposed to be the optimum choice, majority of people would still choose option 3 simply because it is FREE.

So IMHO the real challenge to make the public to adopt a decentralized architecture is to come out with a better business model. Simple hosting charges won't work when there are free alternatives, and there is no way to make black box hosting free. Average Joe will neither want to purchase troublesome sheeva plug nor would they want to pay for hosting in the cloud. Decentralized architecture will not prevent centralized hosting and data mining, what it does is allow us to switch from one provider to another easily. Whether the user choose a free provider that mine data or become their own provider, its entirely their choice.

The other problem with privacy in decentralized architecture is that you actually get less privacy when you use centralized identification. People here often complain that they don't want Facebook to know they like or comment on some random webpages. While that might be a problem, most of our information can already be found in the Internet publicly. If OpenID become the norm, my ID at Slashdot, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, YouTube, and whatever random forum should remain the same. This would be even true for a decentralized data architecture because you need a universal way to identify yourself. With OpenID, a simple Google search will reveal this post I'm writing in Slashdot, the comment I gave on random YouTube video, the articles I digged and liked, and whatever sites that I participated in. Actually all these information already available publicly, but what really stops Google on mining it is the lack of unified ID.

In conclusion, while a decentralized data architecture might seem good, it doesn't help much if most of our information is already available publicly. Protecting private data is only feasible unless we can find a way for providers to provide hosting services. And even if all these problems can be solved, I still don't think the privacy problems could be solve with just that.

Eben Moglen is, sadly, a tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33261042)

500 years ago Moglen was a programmer, so obviously he knows his shit. Since then he's been writing GPL licenses, which by their terms are great but are ridiculously poorly drafted. If FOSS had a better attorney friend, who wasn't also a churlish twat, things would be better. tl;dr -> fuck eben moglen.

Re:Eben Moglen is, sadly, a tool (1)

Tim99 (984437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261320)

Florian, is that you?
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