The concept of ethical social network

judith at judith at
Tue Sep 27 22:32:21 UTC 2011

> I found them useful again ;-)

>> Could you clarify that part?
>> And having the ability to be accessible independently of any other
>> network or computer.
>> Why the accessibility from any network or computer is necessary to
>> the ethical disposition of the social network?
> Maybe this is stretching the meaning of "ethics" a little, but
> basically the user does not have real power and control over their
> in the social network if their participation in it relies on third
> Being able to host their own account without reliance on any other
> individual or network is important because without this they are not
> really free to host themselves and express themselves.
> If my social networking account could disappear from the larger
> social network because a computer acting as a relay in the network
is required for
> communication, caching, or some other technical purpose, then my
> participation can be vetoed by a third party. So for real
independence, real
> self-sufficient capability of freedom of expression etc. there can
be no single
> point of failure between my home social networking server and the
> network at large (in this example).

I totally agree with you, this is why I wrote "Each user should host
his sofware server on his own hardware server.”

>> How about adding that the user must be the legal owner of anything
>> that they submit to the service. This may be assumed from your other
>> requirements, but I think it should be explicit because
>> historically users of some networks have not had the right of
ownership over their
>> social network content.

>> It's interesting what you said, but in which way this proposition
>> is necessary to the ethical disposition of the social network?

> Basically I see this as a technical requirement of the social
> networking software (the user will be adding content to a device
which they
> own, we assume, so that issues of licensing should not necessarily
> The technical issue that I'm raising is solved by your proposal:

>> I proposed to add:the user should be free to decide what
>> is the license of the communicated data.

>> As the social network is peer to peer, there is no central company
>> or organisation. So there's no need of legally binding statements
>> concerning the privacy of communication exchanged by users. For
example, if a
>> user represents the organisation behind the software development,
>> one has by design no more access to any user data than anyone else.

That isn't sufficient protection however. Take Firefox - if Mozilla
 was a private company then they could use their enormous influence
over Firefox development to change the way that Firefox collects
data or allows the user to control privacy settings in order to
send data to Mozilla servers,  and only to Mozilla servers.

Of course Mozilla is Free Software, so others would see this was
happening (though Mozilla may implement this hypothetical code  in a
way that was very hard to detect) but Firefox is still the brand,
the updates would go out automatically to hundreds of millions of
users, and it would take years before a forked version of Firefox,
with the tracking removed,would exceed Firefox in popularity.

Additionally Mozilla controls the hosting of the code, of
Firefox,com, and the servers with user accounts for forums and
development etc., all of which involves private data that could be
abused which is ancillary to the product of Firefox itself, but all
of which is no doubt important to users of Firefox.

> Fortunately Mozilla is a foundation and so this scenario is very
 unlikely to happen, but it goes to show that it is important 'the
company behind' an ethical social network has legally binding
pledges to a community about the way it will develop the code, and
the goals of its activities that relate to the software. Just being
Free Software is not enough - malicious parties can use influence
to corrupt the ethical nature of software.

Just look  at the scare surrounding core internet security
components of OpenBSD 
> backdoor-in-openbsd-ipsec-stack.ars).

You raised here an important issue. I see some points:
It seems to me that no contract can be signed with a community, only
with its users; if so, the legally binding pledges you speak of
should be between the developing organization and the users (a
copyleft license?).

You speak of the developing organization legal form. A software
doesn't need a foundation as development organization to qualify as
Free Software, so why would a social network strictly need a
foundation as development organization to qualify as ethical? As you
pointed, it isn’t sufficient to avoid ethical infringement, which
may be legally ok.

The right answer may be to define these contract elements. Are you
ok with that? What do you think those should be?

Judith Lukoki
+33 (0)6 15 94 50 23

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