Eben Moglen: It’s time to turn on the ‘freedom’

Diaspora, the up and coming open source facebook alternative, is under development and should soon be available in a public version that we can start to play with and suggest how to improve to become the real thing. (see 500 million on facebook – will diaspora have a chance?)

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.

We need a hardware base where our data can reside in a secure but still very much available way. Moglen imagines this as 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.

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.”

See The Hindu for the full article:

It’s time to turn on the ‘freedom’

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