Decentralizing the Internet So Big Brother Can’t Find You

From The New York Times:

Published: February 15, 2011

On Tuesday afternoon, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in Washington about the Internet and human liberty, a Columbia law professor in Manhattan, Eben Moglen, was putting together a shopping list to rebuild the Internet — this time, without governments and big companies able to watch every twitch of our fingers.

The list begins with “cheap, small, low-power plug servers,” Mr. Moglen said. “A small device the size of a cellphone charger, running on a low-power chip. You plug it into the wall and forget about it.”

Almost anyone could have one of these tiny servers, which are now produced for limited purposes but could be adapted to a full range of Internet applications, he said.

“They will get very cheap, very quick,” Mr. Moglen said. “They’re $99; they will go to $69. Once everyone is getting them, they will cost $29.”

The missing ingredients are software packages, which are available at no cost but have to be made easy to use. “You would have a whole system with privacy and security built in for the civil world we are living in,” he said. “It stores everything you care about.”

Put free software into the little plug server in the wall, and you would have a Freedom Box that would decentralize information and power, Mr. Moglen said. This month, he created the Freedom Box Foundation to organize the software.

“We have to aim our engineering more directly at politics now,” he said. “What has happened in Egypt is enormously inspiring, but the Egyptian state was late to the attempt to control the Net and not ready to be as remorseless as it could have been.”

Not many law professors have Mr. Moglen’s credentials as lawyer and geek, or, for that matter, his record as an early advocate for what looked like very long shots.

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Go Also To:  The Freedom Box Foundation

One Response to “Decentralizing the Internet So Big Brother Can’t Find You”

  1. Andrea B. Says:

    29 dollars or 29 euros.

    I would buy a few. I know my parents would. My niece was actually talking about something like this when I was back for my parents 50th wedding anniversary. My cousins complain about the electric cost and room taken up by their household servers.

    This idea has potential that goes way beyond freedom of speech.

    It has the potential to get a small business into everyone’s home.

    This has the potential to allow people with genuine craft or other small scale manufacturing ability to not only make things in their spare time, but sell them easily as well, directly from their home without using a corporate internet provider as a selling point.

    An idea like that could possibly kick start tens of millions of small family business’s worldwide, lifting millions out of poverty. That in turn would start to give some people economic freedom. The implications of that would go way beyond anything like what we have seen in Egypt.

    Anyway, regarding that particular device.

    This is what I would pick up at that price.

    One to sell my 3D and 2D artwork.

    Another for online shop (I have an idea for that).

    One as server for my friends and our handcrafting hobbies.

    Another for my sci-fi friends and the things we make, such as our first 3D scanner and hopefully in the next few weeks, if all goes well, our first 3D printer.

    Most likely a spare to fiddle around with and experiment my ideas on. I might for once start my own blog.

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