About

Member of the Board of the Polish Linux Users Group. Human rights in digital era hacktivist, Free Software advocate, privacy and anonimity evangelist; expert volunteer to the Panoptykon Foundation; co-organizer of SocHack social hackathons; charter member of the Warsaw Hackerspace; and Telecomix co-operator; biker, sailor.

Formerly President of the Board of the Polish Free and Open Source Software Foundation; CTO of BRAMA Mobile Technologies Laboratory on Warsaw University of Technology and a student at Philosophy Institute on Warsaw University.

Table of Contents

languages:
02.07.2016Dzień, w którym cenzura Sieci w Polsce stała się faktem pl 152 13.04.2015Needless haystacks en 151 12.03.2015e-Dockleracje pl 150 19.01.2015Ban on encryption is not about banning encryption en 149 13.01.2015Pochwała Copyleftu en pl 148 30.12.2014Zmiana klucza GPG en pl 147 18.12.2014Siła wyższa pl 146 04.12.2014Internet jednak bez pornografii? en pl 145 27.11.2014Zablokujmy wszystko! en pl 144 02.11.2014Pod rozwagę: ryśka prawo nieuniknionych konsekwencji en pl 143 09.09.2014Stop pedofilii en pl 142 22.06.2014Even with EME, Mozilla will become "the browser that can't" en 141 21.06.2014EuroDIG 2014 en pl 140 19.06.2014Haker w Radzie ds. Cyfryzacji en pl 139 30.05.2014Anonimowość w konsultacjach społecznych en pl 138 18.05.2014Czemu nie warto być piratem en pl 137 15.05.2014Mozilla, DRM i znaczenie en pl 136 14.05.2014Not-quite-good-enough-Mundial en 135 12.04.2014Nieodpowiedzialne nieujawnienie en pl 134 29.03.2014Ecologic, Ford i inwigilacja en pl 133 15.03.2014Otwórzmy edukację pl 132 10.03.2014Blurry line between private service and public infrastructure en 131 08.03.2014IM IN UR MINISTRY, CONSULTING UR INTERNETZ en pl 130 17.02.2014Szyfrowany VoIP, który działa en pl 129 11.02.2014A więc chcesz cenzurować Sieć... en pl 128 02.02.2014This is why we can't have nice IRC en 127 31.01.2014Prawie jak decentralizacja en pl 126 30.01.2014Żaden link nie jest nielegalny en pl 125 30.01.2014Debaty o prawie autorskim ciąg dalszy en pl 124 26.01.2014Neat HaCSS, or let's de-JS the Web a bit en 123 27.12.2013Information Account Number en 122 14.12.2013HaIPu en 121 20.11.2013Friends of TTIP and data protection in Brussels en 120 19.11.2013Jaki kraj tacy Piraci? en pl 119 05.11.2013A rude comment en 118 20.10.2013TEDx Warsaw Women i prywatność en pl 117 03.10.2013Reforma prawa autorskiego na CopyCamp 2013 en pl 116 22.09.2013Long-expected KMail2 rant en 115 18.09.2013Facebook for schools en 114 12.09.2013W którym wzywam posłów i posłanki Solidarnej Polski do zagwarantowania obywatelom Internetu wolnego od inwigilacji en pl 113 08.09.2013Complaintivism en 112 04.09.2013Sam sobie winien en pl 111 19.08.2013Kłamstwa, kłamstwa, i analityka en pl 110 27.07.2013Najkrótsza debata publiczna o cenzurze Internetu en pl 109 22.07.2013How information sharing uproots conservative business models en es 108 22.07.2013Dostępny jest markup wszystkich postów en pl 107 11.07.2013Kultura wolna i legalna pl 106 07.06.2013Internet nie jest problemem! en pl 105 05.06.2013Libel Culture en 104 17.05.2013Wojtuś Fatalista i wolność w Internecie pl 102 17.05.2013Czemu uważam, że licencje -ND są zbędne i szkodliwe en es pl 101 28.03.2013Wolność nasza codzienna pl 100 17.03.2013Nie wszystko korpo co o wolności w Internecie pl 99 15.03.2013♫ Odpowiadam na e-maile ♫ pl 98 11.02.2013Pierwsza rocznica europejskich protestów Anty-ACTA en pl 97 30.01.2013Nie ma haka na słabe dziennikarstwo? pl 96 30.01.2013Zwalczając czarny PR wokół OZE en pl 95 29.01.2013Jak skutecznie argumentować przeciw pomysłom cenzury Internetu en pl 94 20.11.2012Warunki brzegowe podmiotowości w dobie cyfrowej en pl 93 19.11.2012Blogosfera społecznościowa en pl 92 07.11.2012Fragmentacja nie jest zła en pl 91 02.11.2012SERVICES.TXT en pl 90 24.10.2012Apple finally jumped the shark en es 89 24.09.2012A mury runą... en es pl 88 24.09.2012Minister i Kultura pl 87 24.09.2012Melbourne CryptoParty video message en 86 16.09.2012O marynarskiej wrażliwości, czyli "niebo gwiaździste nade mną" en pl 85 22.08.2012Czarny PR wokół e-Podręczników en pl 84 15.08.2012Regaty utracone pl 83 24.07.2012Hypochristian Love en 82 24.07.2012Trochę nowego Dobra w layoucie en pl 81 17.07.2012Partia 2.0 en pl 80 16.07.2012Prawo autorskie po ACTA pl 79 13.07.2012Partia jako hack na systemie en pl 78 10.06.2012Are corporations dangerous only in collusion with governments? en 77 09.06.2012Proxies! Proxies everywhere! en 76 05.06.2012Automagiczna re-publikacja z Twittera na StatusNet en pl 75 18.05.2012TPSA/Orange i GIMP, czyli rzecz o 5-ciu użytkownikach en pl 74 16.05.2012Słowo o Warsztatach MAiC pl 73 15.04.2012Schowaj gadżeta pl 72 05.04.2012Perfect ToDo-oid en 71 27.03.2012Subiektywnie o Anty-ACTA en pl 70 25.03.2012O prawie autorskim w Budapeszcie en pl 69 23.03.2012Kościoła poczucie odpowiedzialności pl 68 20.03.2012Ucząc się Internetów en pl 67 19.03.2012Kościoła wiara w wiernych pl 66 29.02.2012Safari w Brukseli #1 - konferencja prasowa PE, posiedzenie ITRE en pl 65 21.02.2012Bo ACTA jest passé en pl 64 20.02.2012Tajemnica korespondencji po europejsku en pl 63 17.02.2012Premier Tusk w sprawie ACTA: myliłem się en pl 62 12.02.2012Anonimowi kontra Korponimowi en pl 61 10.02.2012Mieć ciastko i ściągnąć ciastko en pl 60 19.01.2012O ACTA znów w Kancelarii Premiera en pl 59 19.01.2012Wolni i Zjednoczeni en pl 58 16.01.2012Towarzystwo czuje się oszukane pl 57 10.01.2012Warunki Korzystania ze Świadczonych Usług en pl 56 05.01.2012Korporacyjny brak patriotyzmu en pl 55 04.01.2012Terrorystkoptery en pl 54 03.01.2012IceWeasel i prywatność en pl 53 28.12.2011Dobry Wujek Stal... Putin en pl 52 25.12.2011Useful Bash defaults done right en 51 21.12.2011Google Mail, czyli jak poczta staje się publikacją en pl 50 20.12.2011Occupy Gotham en pl 49 11.12.2011Copyfraud en pl 48 08.12.2011Multikino Wikipedia FAIL pl 47 27.11.2011Nie miejsce na pl 46 18.11.2011Cięcie jednostronne en pl 45 12.11.2011Tolerancja dla Kościoła pl 44 11.11.2011Użytkownicy i Obywatele en pl 43 30.10.2011Adhocracy i Net4Change en pl 42 18.10.2011Wojna z Radością en pl 41 16.10.2011Boli mnie w krzyżu pl 40 14.10.2011Technologiczne Samouwielbienie en pl 39 10.10.2011I Can Haz? pl 37 09.10.2011Cisza Wyborcza w Polsce en pl 38 03.10.2011Kibice i kampania pl 36 02.10.2011E-Podręczniki, Johnny Mnemonic, biznes i Sieć en pl 35 19.09.2011CC Global Streaming/Summit/Party pl 33 19.09.2011Czy jest coś takiego jak darmowe śniadanie? pl 34 12.09.2011Faktycznie Super pl 32 12.09.2011Diaspora-Based Comment System en 31 11.09.2011Konflikt wartości en pl 30 06.09.2011Wolność słowa to nie wolność od myślenia ani od krytyki pl 29 06.09.2011Prywatność i anonimowość w Sieci: kamyczek do ogródka en pl 28 04.09.2011O ostrożności w doborze słów en pl 27 03.09.2011W obronie QR Code pl 26 31.08.2011Stolica Nie Tak Święta pl 25 29.08.2011Of malware, hot steam, privacy, using one's brain and paedoparanoia en 24 29.08.2011Kragen Głośno Myśli en pl 23 18.08.2011Ból, blizny, dziewczyny i wiosła pl 22 07.08.2011Worst. Woodstock. Ever! pl 21 27.07.2011Siła woli, wydajność i rower en pl 20 19.07.2011Neo FreeRunner as a WiFi Soundcard en 19 10.07.2011Łikend z prawnikami en pl 18 09.07.2011Krok bliżej ideału en pl 17 04.07.2011Ryś Apostata en pl 16 28.06.2011KToF (Kolejna Tyrada o Facebooku) en pl 15 19.06.2011Wiara w priorytety pl 14 17.06.2011Spotkania ważne, spotkania przyjemne en pl 13 13.06.2011Ooops I en pl 12 30.05.2011Zabawy z Node.js en pl 11 25.05.2011Mozilla, Google i pasek adresu en pl 10 24.05.2011Na konferencji Sektor 3.0 en pl 9 23.05.2011Layout, CSS i RSS/Atom en pl 8 15.05.2011Startup Weekend Network Fun Fun Fun en 7 11.05.2011Nowy szef Bramy pl 6 10.05.2011World's Smallest Open Source Violin en pl 5 10.05.2011Po kolejnym spotkaniu w KPRM pl 4 08.05.2011Inspiracja na niedzielę pl 3 08.05.2011I horizontally the whole blog is that serious pl 2 07.05.2011Rysio ma braga en pl 1

Blurry line between private service and public infrastructure

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This is my NetMundial content proposal, with some typos fixed and minor edits.

Abstract

ICANN and IANA decentralisation efforts mark an important milestone in the evolution of the Internet: there is finally widespread recognition of the fact that centrally controlled bodies pose a threat to the free and open nature of the Internet. ICANN and IANA are, however, but a small part of a much larger problem.

More and more, communication platforms and methods are secondarily centralized; that is, in a network decentralized on lower protocol levels there are services being run that are centralized on higher levels. Running on a network based on open standards are closed services, that are then used by other entities as base for their services.

In other words, some private services — offering, for example, user authentication methods — are being used as a de facto infrastructure by large numbers of other entities.

If we recognize the dangers of centrally-controlled domain name system, we should surely recognize the danger of this phenomenon also.

Document

It is of great value that the importance of decoupling IP addresses management and the domain name system management from a single state actor has been recognized and that currently there is a strong push towards multistakeholderism in this area.

There is, however, a secondary emergent centralization happening on the Internet, that potentially can pose a comparable, or even bigger, threat to the interconnected, open and independent nature of this global network.

This centralization is harder to perceive as dangerous, as it is not being actively supported by any state actor; hence, it falls under the radar for many Internet activists and technologists, that would react immediately had similar process been facilitated by a government. It does, however, have a potential to bring negative effects similar to a state-sponsored centralization of infrastructure.

Another reason for this process to happen unnoticed or for the possible negative effects of it to be depreciated is that it is fluid and emergent on behaviour of many actors, enforced by the network effect.

This process is most visibly exemplified in Facebook gathering over a 1 billion of users, by providing a centrally-controlled walled-garden, and at the same time offering an API to developers willing to tap-into this vast resource, for example to use it as authentication service. Now, many if not most Internet services requiring log-in as one of their options offer Facebook log-in. Some (a growing number) offer Facebook as the only option. Many offer commenting system devised by Facebook, that does not allow anonymous comments — a user has to have a Facebook account to be able to partake in the discussion.

Similarily, Google is forcing Google+ on YouTube users; to a lesser extent, Google Search is being used by a swath of Internet services as their default internal search engine (that is, used to search their own website or service). GMail is also by far the most popular e-mail and XMPP service, which gives Google immense power over both.

These are two examples of services offered by private entities (in this case, Google and Facebook) that had become a de facto public infrastructure, meaning that an immense number other services rely and require them to work.

If we recognize the danger of a single state actor controlling ICANN or IANA, we can surely recognize the danger of a single actor (regardless of whether it is a state actor or not) controlling such an important part of Internet infrastructure.

Regardless of reasons, why this situation emerged (users' lack of tech-savvy, service operators' want of easiest and cheapest to implement and integrate solutions, etc), it causes several problems for the free and open Internet:

  • it hurts resillience

If such a large part of services and actors depend on a single service (like Facebook or GMail), this in and of itself introduces a single point of failure. It is not entirely in the realm of the impossible for those companies to fail — who will, then, provide the service? We have also seen both of them (as any other large tech company) have large-scale downtime events, taking services based on them down also.

  • it hurts independence

In the most basic sense, any user of a service based on these de facto infrastructures has to comply with and agree to the underlying service (i.e. Facebook, Google) Terms of Service. If many or most of Internet services have that requirement, users and service operators alike lose independence over what they accept.

  • it hurts openness

Operators of such de facto infrastructures are not obliged to provide their services in an open and standard manner — running mostly in the application layer these services usually any attempts of interoperation. Examples include Twitter changing their API TOS to shut-off certain types of applications, Google announcing the planned shut-off of XMPP server-to-server communication, Facebook using XMPP for the internal chat service with server-to-server shut-off.

  • it hurts accountability and transparency

With such immense and binary ("either use it, or lose it") control over users' and other service providers' data, de facto infrastructure operators do not have any incentives to share information on what is happening with the data they gather. They also have no incentives to be transparent and open about their future plans or protocols used in their services. There is no accountability other than the binary decision to "use it or lose it", which is always heavily influenced by the network effect and the huge numbers of users of these services.

  • it hurts predictability

With no transparency, no accountability, and lack of standardization, such de facto infrastructure operators can act in ways that maximize their profits, which in turn can be highly unpredictable, and not in line with users' or the global Internet ecosystem's best interests. Twitters' changing of API TOS is a good example here.

  • it hurts interoperability

Such de facto infrastructure operators are strongly incentivised to shut-off any interoperability attempts. The larger the number of users of their service, the stronger the network effect, the more other services use their service, and the bigger the influence they can have on the rest of the Internet ecosystem. Social networks are a good example here — a Twitter user cannot communicate with a Facebook user, unless they also have an account on the other network.

This is obviously not the case with e-mail (I can run my own e-mail server), at least not yet. The more people use a single provider here (i.e. GMail), the stronger that provider becomes, and the easier it would be for its operator to shut-off interoperability with other providers. This is exactly what Google is doing with XMPP.

  • it hurts innovation

Lack of predictability, openness and independence obviously also hurts innovation. What used to be a free and open area of innovation is more and more becoming a set of closed-off walled-gardens controlled by a small number of powerful actors.

It is also worth noting that centralized infrastructure on any level (including the level of de facto infrastructure discussed herein) creates additional problems on human rights level: centralized infrastructure is easy to surveil and censor.


Hence, the first question to be asked is this: when does a private service become de facto public infrastructure?

At this point this question remains unanswered and there is not a single Internet Governance body, or indeed any actor, able to reply to it authoritatively. Nevertheless, we are all in dire need for an answer to this question, and I deem it a challenge for Internet Governance and an important topic that should be included in any Internet Governance Forums now and in the future.


The second question that ever more urgently requires an answer if we are to defend the open and not balkanized Internet is: what should be done about private services that have become de facto public infrastructure?

This question is also as of yet unanswered, but there are several possible proposals that can be made, including treating such situations as monopoly and breaking them up (so handling them outside Internet Governance), requiring public interoperable API available for other implementators, etc. This is perhaps not exactly in the purview of Internet Governance, it is however crucial for the Internet as a whole and I propose it be treated as a challenge to be art least considered at IGFs henceforth.