Works in progress

The Future – Feudal or Federal

This is a work in progress, incomplete but published on the Release Early, Release Often principle. Feedback is very much welcomed.

Back in 2012 Bruce Schneier, author of Applied Cryptography and respected security expert, wrote a set of articles on Feudal Security, and The Battle for Power on The Internet, describing how the trend towards channeling all our Internet activity (which is becoming most of our communicating, shopping and learning) through a small number of giant internet companies. He compared this to the way that vassals in medieval times swore allegiance to the barons, who in return mostly provided a degree of protection, but often abused that power.

He said that it was time for governments to establish regulatory frameworks to control the corporations. Unfortunately, in many respects the situation has become worse. Many Internet Giants have revenue greater than the GDP of most countries, so most governments are negotiating from a position of weakness.

The concept that Feudal is the only possible way means that, for example, people wishing to leave WhatsApp due to some scandal or dislike of its policies or market domination, tend to switch, for example to Telegram i.e. leaving one closed system for another.

I like the video explaining the concept of Federated Systems at – particularly as it is on PeerTube – a Federated Video Sharing system.

I hope an Internet of Federated systems can provide almost the same functionality and convenience that the giant monolithic systems can, through the organisations they already belong to.

To make this possible the Free Software community needs to make sure that these alternative systems are readily available to non technical people.

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