Stallman: cloud computing is a trap

Hannes Hauswedell hannes at
Mon Oct 6 15:28:12 UTC 2008

We have had a similar discussion on fsfe-de and I dont want to repeat all the 
points, but I think we really need to differentiate between to issues here:

1) Where do I store my data, do I trust the people in charge?
2) What freedom does the Software involved offer me?

The only point where these issues mingle, is when the software is not 
controlled by the same people controlling the data (e.g. the software is 
proprietary and provided by a third party), resulting in another party of 
people you would have to trust.

Both of these issues can be adressed individually or together, but they are 
two issues, e.g. you can de-/encrypt data on the client-side and store it an 
proprietary web-app solving issue 1, but leaving issue 2 open. Or you can save 
unencrypted data in a AGPLed CMS on GNewsense-Server and still have the people 
running the server sell your data.

Now, what we have to think about, is whether both issues are equally important 
to soceity in general and how or if the Free Software Movement should address 

My personal opinion is that both issues are very important to soceity, but 
that issue 1 should be tackled by civil-rights organisitions, while the Free 
Software Movement should focus on issue 2.
That doesnt mean we should not develop Free Software solutions to issue 1, I 
merely want to point out that FSF(E) as organizations should focus on issue 2, 
because thats what they are good at - and there already are other organization 
strongly involved in issue 1.

Concerning the points you made:

> 1) there are applications (e.g. email-accounts, webspace, collaboration
> tools), which by definition can not rely on the individual, local desktop.

I think you definitions are a little to strict here. The emergence of p2p and 
the spreading of fast internet access have IMHO changed the possibilities we 
have. The traditional client-server-model is not necessary for future 
Even traditional emailing works decentralized: about 50% of the Windows 
Computers send mail, beit without their owners knowing ;)

> 2) the main reason for the shift from desktop-computing to web-applications
> is the increasing need for communication and remote collaboration, allowing
> for new social arrangements.
> 5) I admit, I am worried myself about the intransparency and the lack of
> control over hosted web-services. But on the other hand, I also feel
> strongly tempted about the opportunities, conveniences (and freedoms) they
> offer to me, or to communities of people. They allow me to do things I
> could not do otherwise.

Please eloborate, why it is technically necessary to store your personal and 
private data on someone else's computer to be able to your regular 

> 6) Basically, I think Stallman argues from the perspective of a computer
> specialist, who is able to control and maintain any web-application
> himself.

That is the same argument brought up against FreeSoftware by people who can't  

> This is not the situation, I am in as an individual and a teacher.
> As an individual, I need web-services, which are independent from my
> employer. As a teacher, I want to to teach my students, how survive in the
> internet, how to claim their own space, how to organise collaborations, how
> to publish in the internet, without depending on an institution they are
> member of.

If you are a few people together, that want to offer online-services like 
webspace or collaboration, it should be even easier to get your own server / 

> 7) [...] How could trustworthy
> web-applications and web-services look like? What is good practice for a
> web host? Is there room for public, non-proprietary systems of web-services
> and how should they look like?

Ciaran already posted the link:

Jeeze, this mail got longer than I thought ;)


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