The Second Cloud

Maximilian Hille / Wed, Oct 1, 2014

A lot of us fell victim to the sweet poison of cloud services – me included. Services I use on a daily basis include Google Drive, Google Maps, Github and Gmail, just to name a few. Those are comfortable programs. Running in your browser, everywhere, always up-to-date. No need for backups or any maintenance at all.

What is the price of all this?

You are not only accessing data on remote systems, but you can not know what code will run over there. This is actually worse than running proprietary software on your machine, since you lost even the most basic ways of analysing what’s happening.

Also, giving away the control over your data. Most services will tell you that the data is secure there, but do not believe them! They can access the data and will give access to whoever has enough power or money.

What now?

Everyone builds their own server? This is where a lot of still active services originate from. Mail and Websites can be run by yourself, but it certainly not possible for everyone.

The last months and the success of Bitcoin let me to believe that peer-to-peer based services can help. Bitmessage tries to replace Email. There are even more ambitious ones like MaidSafe which have no lesser goal than building an Internet replacement.

These ideas are not entirely new: Freenet is around for more than a decade now. Back in 2000 there were already visionaries who knew that we would have to defend freedom on the Internet.

The currently existing/developing services might not survive the test of time and acceptance, but there are already hundreds of projects, most of these sharing concepts and code. Thus, I am confident that we will be able to replace current cloud services one-by-one with more secure peer-to-peer based alternatives.