Danny Haidar

Accepted Talks:

When Antitrust Law Fails: Breaking Up Big Tech with Grassroots Technology

From chats apps to cloud storage, the dominant cloud-based services are designed to be walled gardens: they prohibit inter-operation with other platforms, they control the flow of your data, and they use network effects to lock you in. Big tech companies have used this “walled garden” business model to concentrate market control, leaving consumers with fewer and fewer real options. In the United States, antitrust law hasn’t yet succeeded in stopping the concentration of power. But users want a new way to compute in the cloud: one that is free, open, trustworthy, and empowering. What should you do while the law catches up with technology? Free yourself from big tech using grassroots technology. Enter FreedomBox.

FreedomBox is Debian’s home server system: it is a Debian pure blend designed to make it easy for anyone to host their own server on inexpensive, pocket-sized computer hardware. FreedomBox is designed around the principle that the exploitation of user data and attention should be technologically impossible. Its simple user interface empowers individuals to host their own Internet services without technical expertise, like an encrypted chat server that can replace Whatsapp, a VoIP server, a personal website, file sharing, a metasearch engine, and much more. In April 2019, sales of the first-ever commercial FreedomBox product were launched. The product, dubbed a “Pioneer Edition FreedomBox Home Server Kit,” is being sold by Olimex, a company which specializes in Open Source Hardware.

In this talk, you will learn about big tech’s concentration of market control, how it effects users who rely on cloud services, and why antitrust law hasn’t succeeded in protecting consumers against this threat. Next, you will learn why Debian’s world-class software ecosystem should provide the alternative to big tech. Last, you will learn how FreedomBox uses Debian to empower people to leave big tech platforms.

This session is targeted at a general audience who is interested in big tech and the cloud. No prior technical knowledge is required.

Discussion: Advocating for Software Freedom in Your Home Country

The social purpose of Debian is important: it provides a free and open software ecosystem which respects user freedom. Debian’s ecosystem is so rich, reliable, and privacy-respecting that it is often used as the building material of other distributions. How can we promote this vision of technology in society more broadly?

As individuals, we insist on integrating software freedom into our lives by using Debian. Many of us even try to offer software freedom to our friends and family. But what if we want to advocate for software freedom for our entire society or government? Changing laws, policies, and social norms is not easy, but it is an essential component of any social movement. Join this session to learn how Debian’s social purpose can be complemented by advocacy in law, policy, and society.

You will hear from the CTO of India’s premiere digital liberties organization, SFLC.IN, which has worked on India’s IT policy at the national level, and a representative of the Software Freedom Law Center and the FreedomBox Foundation.

This session welcomes people with any level of experience fighting for change. If you come to this session with lots of experience, then we hope that you’ll share it with others.

Come to this session if you want to learn about the general ways in which you can advocate for software freedom in your society. Though we won’t give you concrete advice about what you should do next, we hope to give you a clear idea about your options.