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Re: <nettime> Richard Stallman: Eradicate Facebook!
carlo von lynX on Tue, 22 Mar 2016 15:41:58 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Richard Stallman: Eradicate Facebook!


On Sun, Mar 20, 2016 at 07:44:03PM -0700, morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com wrote:

> Open or closed software doesn't make much difference, it's all about
> data. An operator cannot 'open' data (like in letting everyone know
> what the data and its derivatives are) without factoring itself out
> of the business. On the other hand, there are (yet) no signs that
> consumers will stop feeding operators data in exchange for convenience
> and simulated intimacy.

That is precisely it. As long as people are put in a position to
access other people's data we have a structural problem that can
corrupt our basic freedoms that may even not be important to us
as individuals but spell an end to democracy by dilution of its
constitution. See also the power of Google and Facebook to influence
the vote of 20-40% of the population in most countries and the
conclusions Assange describes in recent talks. He says we only have
a few years to fix this, then it may be too late to get democracy
back.

I think we need distributed social networking, with nodes that act
like a Facebook on your own device but only interact through a network
of agnostic relays, Tor style, with zero external authorities. Not even
"trusted" people running some pods or other overinformed server nodes.
That's what I'm working on since 2010.

Before that I tried decentralization and federation, but realized that
it was a dead-end street. I wished everyone had learned that lesson as
me, instead many still preach decentralization and federation.
Probably also some lobbyists, since it is the best way to ensure
that Facebook and Google aren't challenged at all.

> The situation is somewhat similar to smoking - bad stuff comes
> after decades, if ever. Perhaps repurposed ads from anti-smoking
> campaigns may help. Each handset should be labeled in bold type with
> slogans like "Using this device can damage your employment and health
> insurance prospects", "Data transferred with this device can turn you
> into a prosecutable criminal in less than 5 years", "Usage of this
> phone can raise your mortgage interest" etc.

As a legislative measure? First politics should foster the creation
of a free social networking alternative, then it can simply require
its use by law. After all Facebook and Google are infringing the
most basic requirements of most democratic constitutions. Offering
basic communication tools over a web of cloudy servers must simply 
not be legal. Only anonymized end-to-end encrypted communication
satisifies the requirements of democracy. The mere potential that a
government agency could access *all* communication data rather than
that of a few specific suspect individuals is a breach in the basic
contract of democracy. It's not even legal to say "we're not doing it".
The fact that it requires us to trust them is anti-constitutional.
The way the judiciary is unable to check on it makes the checks and
balances aka separation of powers fall apart.

> >I realize that this is a short interview, but I almost wish Stallman
> >hadn't mentioned free software (his particular obsession, obviously,
> >and a reasonable one), which could overshadow some much more basic
> >concerns with FB. Using proprietary software is one thing--maybe
> >it's inherently evil, maybe not--and collecting data on people's
> >every movement is another. It's conceivable, just slightly, that
> >Facebook could open-source all their software and not change their
> >behavior a bit.

Yes, even if Facebook was entirely subscribing to Affero GPL would
not guarantee that government isn't forcing them to breach AGPL in
order to provide full database access to the five friends while at
the same time vehemently proclaim the contrary in public. Given the
legal situation in the US that Apple vs FBI story looks like a PR 
stunt with both sides winning. Of course Facebook would support that.

Wait, they don't even need to breach AGPL when adding some extra
NSA administration account to the databases... free software is a
precondition for liberty, but totally insufficient by itself.


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