Making the GAFAs obsolete – Tristan Nitot

cozy.io is a French start-up doing personal cloud solutions.

There are currently two important trends in ICT: smartphones and SaaS. Both enable massive data collection: smartphones for data and sync, SaaS to centralize processing and for ads. However, there is no cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer. SaaS centralizes data without freedom for user and without free software (because the user has no control over it, it’s not free). Data centralisation makes mass surveillance economically possible.

Mass surveillance leads to self-censorship. This is scientifically proven. E.g. viewing data of 47 wikipedia pages with touchy subjects saw a breaking point and massive drop after the Snowden revelations.

Code is law: in the digital age, the one writing the code decides what users can do. Therefore, free software is needed for a free society. Similarly, architecture is politics, the way we build the internet determines our freedom. We can’t just use what is handed down to us, we have to build it.

Several personal cloud solutions exist, and all kinds of projects to keep the internet free, e.g. ethical ISPs and hosting.

There are two big hurdles to decentralisation: datacenters are much more efficient, and centralising makes additional services possible. For the cost, thanks to smartphones we get pretty cheap, pretty performant hardware, e.g. OrangePi 0 Quad-core for $7. Also decentralisation doesn’t necessarily mean it goes out of data centers, it just means it’s not GAFA’s data centers.

E-mail is hard because mail from ISP addresses is often blocked by GAFA. But you can just by a domain name with associated mail address run by a hosting provider.

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