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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Open Source, Code, Tech and Decentralized Control

Interesting and considerable piece. What is ultimately the meaning of open source?     Also the architecture of data and code and how it is controlled by just a small number of big players.

Open source hasn’t made tech more open  By Nithin Coca, @excinit in Engadget

Democratic ideals have given way to governments and corporate giants.

here are two institutions dominating the top of the tech food chain today. On one side are big tech companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, as well as China's big three of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Alongside them are the massively funded, heavily staffed global cyberpowers -- most notably the US, China and Russia -- who are seeking to monitor and control information flows online in the name of national security or political control.

Both are intertwined. Sometimes intimately, as in China, where an Orwellian social credit system is taking shape, and private companies are becoming indistinguishable from the state's apparatus. In the US, tech companies are now the biggest lobbyists and political donors in Washington, while in Russia there is a battle against the message app Telegram. Together, these forces control the vast majority of information that flows online, either through data gathering, surveillance or censorship.

There is an opposition: Small, often bare-budget operations run by hackers, nonprofit activists and volunteers. These open-source, decentralized projects and cooperative alternatives aim to protect user security and provide them greater control of their personal data. Some, like TOR or Signal, aim to encrypt and protect digital communication from the peering eyes of governments and corporations. Others, like Orchid, Dat or Blockchain-based protocols such as Ethereum want to return the web to it's initial, decentralized roots. Whether or not they get more people to adopt their alternatives could determine whether the years-long trend toward greater corporate and governmental control of data will continue. At stake is nothing less than the future of the internet itself. ... " 

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