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I just got finished watching Across The Universe, an interesting movie about a bunch of 20-something kids in 1968, dealing with the draft, the Viet Nam war, love, music, art, protest, revolution... in other words: Life. The movie was a musical using only the music of The Beatles.

Watching this movie has convinced me of a few things:
1) There is _NOT_ enough Beatles music in my collection. This must be corrected. I'm seriously about to drop $181.51 on the whole collection of studio recordings.

2) Our generation hasn't had its revolution yet, and I'm trying to figure out what it's going to be, and why it hasn't happened yet.

I have some very serious concerns about personal privacy, specifically about how it is being eroded today, primarily by my stock and trade: technology. Google, FaceBook, the RIAA, Apple, they're all taking your life-- no, we are GIVING IT TO THEM, and they are selling it to the highest bidder.

In the early 60s the Viet Nam war was slowly building up. There were a few people who were concerned and thought it was a bad idea, but on the whole, the country went along with it. It wasn't until tens of thousands of lives were being given up (for what? I'm not qualified to have that discussion; I'll leave it to those who are, but I think it's safe to say that it was pretty fucked up) and the protests turned violent at home, that the general populace started to take notice and question what was going on.

No one is likely to die because they told their friends on FaceBook that they like Cheese Sandwitches and then started seeing advertisements for Tillamook and Orowheat when searching Google for Ohm's law. But it isn't a zero cost, either.

Right now, everything is a What-If. The things that _ARE_ happening (at least, that we know of) sound, and honestly are, innocuous enough: targeted advertisement for a better CPM.

But "What-If" this data they're collecting starts being used for nefarious causes? "What-If" the government decides that people who wear fedora's are "suspicious characters." (if you think this is over the top, ask anyone trying to wear red or blue in LA during the 70s and 80s.) and has Flickr run some algorithms and provide the police with a list of people with pictures of them wearing a fedora. "What-If" your employer buys your "Social Report" during the interview process, like they can your Credit Report? Do you want them knowing everything you have EVER done on-line? "What-If" the police issue a subpoena (if they even BOTHER with the subpoena) to FourSquare for someone with your name and arrest you when you check-in to the corner Starbucks (no, the OTHER corner Starbucks...) because a SELECT query can't tell the difference?

I admit, there are a lot of What-Ifs, and they all sound pretty far fetched. Do I think the companies as they are today are doing this? Honestly, probably not.

My concern is this: Giving them your information now is a genie that can _NOT_ be put back in the bottle; they will have your information forever. So the question isn't "Do I think they're doing something nefarious with my information now?" The question is "Do I want to bet on them never doing anything with it in the future?"

And, for me, the answer to that is a resounding "Fuck no."

There are two problems (only two?) with this.

1: How can I convince people that this is a real problem that they need to concern themselves with right now?

2: How can I prevent this from happening?

The first one is something I'm not sure is possible. I think it'll take a 1968 (man, what a fucked up year) before people start seeing what's going on and get outraged and be willing to do something about it.

My goal is to address the second one and be ready with a solution when the public is ready for it.

To that end: I propose we take back the Internet and put people's data back into their own hands. I want a common, distributed name space (read: person@service (eg: mark@halibut.com) instead of person-with-implied-service (eg: @SmittyHalibut)) that can be used for everything. I want all applications and data to be hostable by individuals (note: I said hostABLE, not hostED; more on this later.) And I want it all to interoperate. I want an individual to decide how to authenticate themselves to their services. I want it all to be secure by default.

And I want it to be an APPLIANCE so that ANYONE (think: your mother-in-law) can spend $100 on a box, plop it on their DSL or Cable modem at home (where sane search and seizure laws apply), and become the host of their own on-line life.

This is no small task, and is not one I'm going to be able to do by myself. But I have some ideas of how it could be done, and more importantly I have some friends with a similar vision who are more capable than me.

Will it happen? Can I change the world? Realistically, probably not. But someone has to, or we are all going to be fucked and we'll thank the corporations for it. I want to at least talk about it now.

Shout-outs to: Diaspora, Jabber, DNSSec, IPSec, IPv6, OpenID, GPG. DoD.net and @namniart. Daniel Suarez (talk about vision... Boy howdy, this guy had it right.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 16, 2011 10:25 PM.

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