Moglen on privacy and the cloud

This is a tour de force speech by Eben Moglen. He talks about privacy in the age of the cloud, and how we need to create new services and architectures that free data from the likes of Facebook and Google. The speech has perhaps the best assessment of Facebook I have read recently:

“The human race has susceptibility to harm but Mr. Zuckerberg has attained an unenviable record. He has done more harm to the human race than anybody else his age. Because he harnessed Friday night, that is, ‘Everybody needs to to get laid,’ and turned into a structure for degenerating the integrity of human personality and he has to remarkable extent succeeded with a very poor deal, namely ‘I will give you free web-hosting and some PHP doodads and you get spying for free all the time’. And it works. How could that have happened? There was no architectural reason. Facebook is the web with, ‘I keep all the logs, how do you feel about that.’ It’s a terrarium for what it feels like to live in a Panopticon built out of web parts. And it shouldn’t be allowed. That’s a very poor way to deliver those services. They are grossly overpriced at ‘spying all the time’, they are not technically innovative. They depend on an architecture subject to misuse and the business model that supports them is misuse. There isn’t any other business model for them. This is bad. I’m not suggesting it should be illegal. It should be obsolete. We’re technologists we should fix it.

Facebook is a really good example of where we went wrong and what happened to us because. It’s trickier with Gmail because of that magical untouched by human handsyness … Facebook workers know who’s going to have a love affair before the people do because they can see X obsessively checking the webpage of Y.”

Good stuff.

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