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Techrights is Self-Hosted and Recent Events Show That Self-Hosting Pays Off

Posted in Site News at 10:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 13182be343e4cd9effd58ab8145ee

Summary: There are censorship-type attacks against proponents of Free software, but you probably didn’t hear about them; we need to self-host a lot more than the media tells us (it loves promoting clown computing, i.e. outsourcing)

HAVING an “online presence” isn’t as easy as people are led to think, especially when that presence manifests itself in publication of suppressed information, including leaks-based investigations. Journalism needs to be more of the latter, not mere repetition of press releases issued by companies.

We recently became aware of some Free software sites being subjected to de-platforming, resulting in urgent migrations to hosts willing to stand up for their clients.

“We recently became aware of some Free software sites being subjected to de-platforming, resulting in urgent migrations to hosts willing to stand up for their clients.”As I explain above, right from the get-go we decided to self-host all our videos. At one point we considered uploading copies to LBRY, but there was a lot of concerning stuff about that platform, which nowadays has its share of critics too. So instead we put all the videos only here and there’s an index in Gemini with occasional copies in IPFS. The advantage is, they’re hard to ‘moderate’; nobody can ‘report’ them.

In the distant past we did numerous videos and articles that explain the process and progress. We still show the latest improvements (as we implement them) and provide some technical examples; the code is in self-hosted Git and some time in the future (after OS upgrades) we plan to publish it all under AGPLv3.

“The bottom line is, if it is feasible, consider self-hosting everything.”The video above uses as a cautionary tale the story of “The Linux Experiment”. Earlier this week Alphabet/Google/YouTube banned the channel without prior warning or explanation. There have been 4 videos about it in high-profile channels (maybe more will be added later) and, having just checked again, it’s reinstated and online… for now. Some might say that it proves justice has prevailed, but “the message” was received from Google and the damage is already done; trust isn’t there anymore. Google spies on people and pushes ads to them; somehow Google feels like it’s OK to ban people who do just the latter, and not as aggressively as Google does.

The bottom line is, if it is feasible, consider self-hosting everything. To say or to show controversial things it will become very much necessary because many ways exist to de-platform voices, both directly and indirectly (SLAPP and DMCA are among the legal weapons, which can be directed at any level, not just the author/publisher).

The same is true when it comes to free speech online. We try to reduce reliance on third parties and therefore we try to have all meaningful communications in our own network. Here’s how to follow all our IRC channels from the command line [1, 2] (as I show towards the end of the above video).

“The problem isn’t limited to Google or “GAFAM”; the Web hosts too are a risk factor. Sometimes the ISPs.”Trust nobody to value your speech as much as you yourself value your speech. Google may be using GNU/Linux for almost everything, including ChromeOS, but that does not mean that Google supports GNU/Linux developers and their communities. The little money they offer (usually to underskilled people whose contributions are also time-limited, never mind the low compensation level) can be seen as a form of “hush money”, which helps silence Google critics and sceptics. The critics are painted as intolerant (classist, racist, sexist etc. because of the nature of grants). Maybe Google is also upset that people turn Chromebooks into ‘proper’ GNU/Linux machines that give Google no data at all (they cannot subjugate the people who bought such laptops, which may be partly subsidised).

The problem isn’t limited to Google or “GAFAM”; the Web hosts too are a risk factor. Sometimes the ISPs. The Web has become far too centralised, so we need to promote things like Gemini, self-hosted of course with self-signed certificates (don’t centralise the trust, either).

At the time of writing, or as of this moment, since midnight today we’ve served over 40,000 pages over gemini://, so it is not some minuscule niche that everyone can ignore. Well, these latest statistics from Mr. Bortzmeyer say there are now 1,614 known capsules (it grows by about 100 every month or two).

“More importantly, choose carefully where to host videos, communications (including E-mail and IRC), not just blogs and domains.”Using datacentres for E-mail and for Web hosting comes with a risk attached, as these latest two articles [1, 2] (yes, it’s about GoDaddy!) help show. Only days after ProtonMail turning in an environmentalist (whom they kept logs on) instead of polluters that many people campaign against and blow the whistle on. And speaking of whistleblowers, they’re being spun as a threat of violence, either when they speak about a drone assassinations program or now, as in this case, some site that opposes abortion, only to be deplatformed by GoDaddy, whose founder/chief infamously cheered for the Iraq invasion. Don’t allow partisan politics to turn you into a cheerleader of online censorship. It is seductive. Painting censorship as “morals”…

Tread carefully if you wish to speak freely. More importantly, choose carefully where to host videos, communications (including E-mail and IRC), not just blogs and domains. Today’s Internet does not exist to promote free speech but to (mostly) police it. It controls society, sometimes by equating certain speech with physical violence.

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