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Re: [GNUnet-developers] iOS victims being late at the GNUnet party

From: carlo von lynX
Subject: Re: [GNUnet-developers] iOS victims being late at the GNUnet party
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 2015 09:32:12 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

On Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 12:23:10PM -0700, Ed Baskerville wrote:
> An appealing narrative, but I don't buy it. Let's say the distributed social 
> network gains traction among on libre platforms. Then your plan is to 
> implement a jailbreaking tool that iPhone users will install in order to 
> connect to their friends, and then maintain a jailbreaking arms race with 
> Apple until every iPhone user has switched to unencumbered free phones? I 
> don't think so. It's an invasible strategy.

Apple engages in unbreaking jailbroken devices? Sending OS updates that close
the loopholes and kick out the changes?

Playing by Apple's rules means allowing them to shut down the party anytime
the government asks them to. Should our tool provide actual privacy and
the ability for opponent political groups to organize in secrecy just the
way the constitution expects it, then government will feel its absolute
power questioned!

What about this: iPhone users are likely to buy more gadgets than others
anyway. If a less encumbered smartphone platforms becomes popular thanks
to our distributed social networking technology.. then those people will
simply buy one... understanding that liberty is the one thing that Apple
cannot give them.

> Being distributed means you have to operate based on open protocols. That 
> means anybody can implement the protocols on any platform. The upfront cost 
> of reimplementing the protocols may be higher than a jailbreaking tool. But 
> once they work, they'll keep working, and the more successful the network is, 
> the greater the incentive will be to implement them. Especially if there's a 
> mechanism to connect to the network without implementing the full GNUnet 
> protocol stack.

Still you depend on permission from Apple and USgov to enjoy all of this...

> So you'll end up connecting the network to (non-jailbroken) iPhones anyway.

Sometimes this depends on individuals making such an extra effort...
OSX still has no decent GUI for installing free software securely...
Linux has dozens of those. Apparently it's enough that nobody cares
for a platform like OSX to never come up to speed. For Windows the
situation is even worse. OSX at least has the tools in theory, they
just happen to not work. Coincidence?

> Also possible: someone implements a distributed social network based on 
> similar underlying principles that *doesn't* interoperate with your network, 
> but that has slick apps on non-libre platforms. Which one gains traction?

It's always easier to do a cloud-based social network if liberty is not a
priority, so there's no appeal in doing this.

> I think the better strategy is to deploy your code on those platforms upfront 
> (or with some short lag), or at least allow others to do so. Compromise the 
> GPL only for the sole exception of App Store distribution, nothing else.

That would be exactly what enables greedy people to make a business on
top of our code and combines access to the content in our network with
lack of freedom and security. This is the reason why I want us to upgrade
from GPL-3 to Affero GPL.. because I would not want some company to deploy
gnunet nodes in a cloud, make some RESTful API to it and have dumb insecure
apps on iOS exchange data with it. It would relegate the E2E auth feature
of gnunet into a company cloud, turning it from a feature into a threat to
user liberty. Our reaction would probably be to blacklist such fake gnunet
nodes, but it's an arms race we won't easily win. Much better to
disincentivate that sort of business model upfront by switching to Affero.

Making iPhone users participate in the experience even if it means
throwing the entire security model to the bin, is that your vision?
Well then why did we start gnunet/secushare in the first place?
We could have continued working on psyced then. It would be the most
awesome piece of federation/cloud server technology for social networking
by now. tg's status update code is still in there, we can revive it...
thanks to multicast it would probably even work and compete with Twitter.

> This is an interesting idea, and you might be able to pull it off in the EU...
> More straightforward: just require app marketplaces to be compatible with the 
> GPL. I think there's a clear "national interest" angle here too, since 
> government grant-funded scientific code (of which there is plenty with GPL 
> dependencies) should be distributable on mainstream app marketplaces. I 
> suspect there are a lot of scientists that would be willing to say that.

Good point, I will think of adding it to the law proposal.

> You're not playing their game just by distributing through their channels. 
> You're not trying to make money, which has already freed you from the most 
> important constraints (violating your users' privacy for the sake of money 
> and trying to keep secrets). And the gain of making good, appealing, usable 
> apps isn't just for the "average Apple consumer"; it's also for non-technical 
> privacy advocates; and for technical people too.

If they can come up with any phony excuse to block the distribution
of your app, you are playing their game. Heard of the term "gatekeeper" ?

> As for the App Store compromise, I still feel like I'm missing something 
> here. What's the difference between someone with an iPhone and someone 
> running Windows or OS X or Samsung-shipped Android for the verifiability of 
> running code?

Powerpoint presentations. They have been showing that the agency can swiftly
access any iOS device anytime. It is not known how easily they can get into
the other platforms.

I distinguish between platforms where a power user would be able to figure
out that abnormal traffic is originating from her system, such as an agency
extracting her social graph data for metadata analysis, and a system where
this is completely undetectable. We know that the agencies are scared of
hackers uncovering their methods, so they don't actually use microprocessor
backdoors for everyday bulk surveillance.

A distributed social network such as secushare would be undermined in its
intention to protect metadata if a large chunk of users' installations
is systematically harvested. Therefore we'd rather have a social network
that only runs on Linux and actually achieves its goals than a social network
that runs everywhere, encompasses everyone, but doesn't do any better than
the existing offerings.

And then think long-term. If such a secure network exists it empowers
democracy in the ways intended by the constitution, thus some fresh new
thinking has a better chance of making it into parliaments and politics.
Once that is achieved, we can introduce the legislational requirement of
protecting the constitutional values by all device manufacturers. THEN
we can bring our social network tools to the smartphones... once we have
made them libre and secure by law.

It's a worthwhile goal, it may take a decade or two to get there.

> Yes, absolutely. But I'm worried they won't even perceive the opportunity to 
> try them.

Then they weren't interested. Plenty of human beings on planet Earth do not
perceive the value of political liberty, either. They already think they
are living in the land of milk and honey or whatever is being told to them,
so they don't know they could be free if they packed up and went elsewhere.
Admittedly, there are few elsewheres, too small to host everyone.

> (I will pass over the fact that TextSecure interoperates with Signal on iOS, 
> which is available in the App Store, because it need not be mentioned.)

Signal/RedPhone exposes all metadata of its users. It's not playing
in the same field with us.

  E-mail is public! Talk to me in private using encryption:

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