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Re: Drunken Eben interviewed by Indiatimes
Re: Drunken Eben interviewed by Indiatimes
Wed, 08 Dec 2010 16:02:05 -0000
The fellow professor evidently needs medical help to cure his silliness:
"It's time to turn on the freedom'
The Free Software movement used GNU/Linux to put freedom' into our
computers. It's now time to turn on that freedom and achieve social
Last week, four young hackers from New York University released the
first version of Diaspora, the much-talked-about open alternative to the
top social networking site Facebook. Miffed by Facebook's invasive
privacy policies, they spent their summer hacking, using funds sent in
by unhappy Facebook users over the Internet.
This significant initiative was inspired by a lecture that is very
popular on the Internet, not only because it ordains the
twenty-something Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the title of having
done more harm to the human race that anybody else his age', but also
bringing to the mainstream a rather critical issue: privacy and freedom
on the cloud'.
When Eben Moglen delivered his talk, titled Freedom in the Cloud', in
February this year, he inspired these young men to attempt to restore
freedom' to the Internet an invention that was built on the concept
of peer-to-peer networking.
Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a lecture he delivered at the
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, free software activist and
hacker, professor at Columbia Law School and founder of the Software Law
Centre, Moglen said he believes that Diaspora is important because it
attempts to create a software networking layer for distributed use, and
allows you and your friends to gradually migrate from a privacy-invading
option to a privacy-respecting one, without getting disconnected'. But
a software layer will hardly do the trick. With web services offering
free-of-cost services' (served with surveillance, spying and complete
loss of control of your personal data, as Moglen puts it), running on
virtualised servers or clouds' that are centralised, a new social
networking layer can hardly turn things around.
Moglen proposes a simple solution, one that he says will reverse the
client-server model' that is antithetical to the spirit of the Internet
as it was conceived, and more importantly, save our data by
de-virtualising the servers and pushing the power (or control) back to
the edges. He calls it the Freedom Box'.
The Freedom Box' or the Wall-wart' servers are low-price, ultra-small
servers that can be plugged in and will use as much power as a
nightlight. Basically, Moglen explains, you can plug it in, sync in with
a wi-fi router and it starts itself up. It will know how to start its
web server, how to go and collect your stuff from all the social
networking places and even send an encrypted backup of everything to
your friends' servers.
It keeps your data logs, but instead of it sitting on a server owned by
some company that may sell it or share it with somebody, it will be on
your wall or in your neighbourhood, he explains.
Free World's iPhone
Currently available in the market for around $100, it runs on ARM chips
and is being manufactured by two companies and is powered by Open Source
software. It's so small you can carry it around in your pocket. A final
version will be ready in about 18 months and will be a lot cheaper when
it is mass produced and is used by ordinary people. For this, it should
be powerful, strong, easy to set up and use and really fun to interact
with and these are things that we in the Free Software world can do
very well, Moglen says. He believes that with powerful software stacks
these beauties will catch on because they will cost less than a
router, offer features such as being able to bypass censorship by
encrypting and routing traffic, and most importantly, offer you a no
spying' option to every service available on the Web. The combination of
this hardware and existing free software, he says, could make this the
Free World's iPhone' an invention that changes the way people think
about their relationship to the network.
The world we live in
The place we are in today is an unquestionably dangerous one. But how
did something that was intrinsically conceived to be a peer-to-peer'
network where two computers simply talked to each other, turn into a
hierarchical scheme that stripped users of all control and privacy of
their data? When did e-mail cease to be a private conversation between
two people, reflects Moglen.
Charting the history of this centralisation, Moglen explains: The
Internet, as it was conceived, was just pipes and switches. But when
Microsoft took over as the dominant operating system, it established a
server/client architecture where a centralised system, the server,
determined your interactions with computers, thus establishing a clear
hierarchy and disempowering client or computer users. So, logs and
storage control remained with this central server. This central server
in today's virtualised world is the cloud'. In this virtualised world,
the server has no location and clients' are disempowered because their
data is now location-less. Unlike the old server, which was made of
iron, located in a room somewhere, this cloudy substance called the
cloud' is where all your data resides. Now, data protection becomes
extremely problematic given that for all practical purposes servers
cease to be subject to legal control or operate in a policy-directed
manner since they cannot be territorially linked, he says. And because
servers cannot be controlled, the logs (of online activity), the result
of the hidden service of surveillance, can be projected into any domain
at any moment, stripping them of any territorial legal obligation,
The loss of privacy becomes all the more critical, and somewhat
catastrophic, when it comes to social networking, says Moglen. In
exchange for a few web services, we now have the spy in our skull.
People are living online, and in this world you have Zuckerberg make
them believe that it is sexy' to be spied on. Unaware of the
implications, people often young people are online, out there,
sharing personal information that can and is easily being monetised.
This is where the Free Software movement needs to get in, and change the
way things work.
With software that creates federated web services, where data is not put
on centralised servers but in dispersed virtual servers or even pocket
servers, and the Freedom Box' that allows lay users to run their own
servers, the Free Software' movement is on the right track. Dismissing
those who decree the Free Software movement irrelevant, Moglen explains
that the Free Software or GNU/Linux empowered clients' against their
masters by providing technically superlative alternatives to proprietary
software. We put the freedom in everything. Now is the time to build on
this platform for free software to achieve social results. It's time to
turn on the freedom. "
(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards
too, whereas GNU cannot.)