Does a new feature give Gmail users control over how emails are used? No. Not really, no (update 2018/05/06: and I found out is even worst than it seemed).
The FCC Net Neutrality decision on Dec. 14th, 2017 (*) has rightly caused a lot of outrage, and concrete reactions, both political (e.g. petitions) and technical (if you have no idea yet of why you too should be worried, please read this first). Several contacts of mine have asked me what I think of those technical reactions. Here’s what.
It looks like the UK Labour party will soon call for closer scrutiny of tech firms and their algorithms. If all goes well, it just won’t work, and that will the end of it. Otherwise, it will be really bad.
By now, you probably already know that Yahoo scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence”, and if you haven’t you can read all the details in the previous link, or in many other places. Here, I only want to point out one thing, mainly but not only to software geeks, and to any organizations whose goal include promoting privacy:
One year ago I launched a proposal, with related fundraiser, for an alternative to Facebook, Gmail and similar services really usable by normal people, the percloud. That fundraiser did not succeed, which is no problem at all for me, because I do have many other things to do. I am writing this post only because I believe that something like the percloud is still sorely needed, and the sooner anybody does it, the better. Seriously. Here’s why.
I just got an email by somebody asking how the Free Software alternative to corporate social networks that I call percloud would work. I answered that…
The percloud is my proposal for an easy to use personal cloud, that is for a feasible alternative for the masses to Facebook, Gmail, and all similar centralized Web services and their privacy and data ownership issues. Last week I put online a 10 slides summary of how the percloud should work. This post answers a specific question that I’ve been asked many times by readers of those slides(*):
UPDATE 2013/09/17: THIS PROJECT NOW HAS A HOME AT per-cloud.com
I have been using my own email service and self-hosted blogs since 2006⁄2007. I started explaining why everybody should do the same three years ago, when I proposed Virtual Personal Email Servers to overcome the big limits of today’s email. In 2011 I repeated why it is important to find alternatives to Gmail.
Since real support for privacy, control and data ownership should be present in everything we do online, last January I also pointed out that alternatives to corporate social networks already exist and only need proper packaging.
Now the Snowden/NSA/PRISM affair has finally made evident, to an audience immensely larger than geek circles, that I (with many others of course) was right. Everybody, including non-geeks (no: starting from them) should have, as soon as possible, at least the possibility to: