We need a (communication) system change

[en] 3 Minute read - privacy

From the very beginning, communication was standardised.

First through a common vocabulary, then through mail (the paper thingy), telecommunication and more “recently“ http and eMail.
Anybody can participate and exchange information freely as long as they comply with the open standard that ensures everyone knows how to talk to each other. Other than that, there where no gatekeepers.

But somehow, this all changed:
gatekeeping became accepted, either through non-standard closed off applications like WhatsApp or even hardware lock-ins like iMessage.
It was accepted to have no actual control over personal data.
This is wrong, every part of it is.


How did we get here

The development of widespread decentralised protocols like http (the thing that makes websites work), email and xmpp (a simple and extensible chat protocol) slowed down. With widespread adoption radical changes take lots of time to implement on the whole global network. Even worse, there will always be a small number of devices and services that do not update at all, since no authority is forcing them to do so. Right into this miserable position proprietary communication services where born. They could easily force users to comply with certain criteria to make development faster and easier. Another thing that makes software development for communication systems very easy, is centralisation.

With that in mind, lets take a look at WhatsApp: it was originally built on top of the open protocol xmpp, but pretty fast went off track to implement custom features. For some time it was only available on iPhones and later, when there weren't enough users, it simply killed blackberry and windows mobile support. Because the way devices communicate and send messages to the WA server is not open, nobody can build and maintain a client for their non-standard device. It also means that data MUST ALWAYS be sent through (and stored on) the WA Server. Just in case you haven't noticed: that means you do not know

  • how any of it works
  • what it does on your device
  • what the server does to your data

All you can do is hope that whatever the service provider tells you is the truth. Maybe someone will reverse-engeneer some parts, but generally speaking, that's it.

You do not know what happens to your private messages and data.

You can not do anything about it, you are locked in this system. (vendor lock-in).


We need a change

Communication and collaboration is the driving force behind humanity's success, while capitalism literally endangers our whole world. The capitalist ideology of the abiding working class to fulfill their basic needs has creeped into the way we communicate: we are forced to comply with rules we cannot change. We are at the mercy of the provider that they do not abuse their power. But they do it, again and again, and every fucking time theres a huge outrage but after some time, the dust settles and business continues as usual. The sad truth is: we depend on those closed systems too much and they are too powerful to let us go.

With free and open communication we can take a first step to break free!
Free from gatekeeping,
free from pressure to buy certain devices just to be able to communicate,
free from the commercial interest in our data.

How YOU can do it

Join the revolution, be the change.
Get your family and friends to move to a different system.

Try Matrix and maybe even host your own server, try Signal if Matrix is to complicated for grandma.
Go move your team from slack to rocket.chat and build communities in matrix spaces instead of discord "servers".


You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

More from LENOWAC