Control Panel

With the right technology the internet can be a space for free expression, exploration, cooperation, learning and fun. A place to connect with others are share experiences. It doesn't have to be a gloomy surveillance prison owned and run by a diabolical synthesis of money-grabbing megacorporations and prurient government spooks brandishing "bulk/general warrants". Freedombone is designed to help you surmount the contemporary digital privacy conundrums and to increase your online autonomy. It's a self-hosted home server configuration which can be installed onto any computer capable of running Debian, so if you have an old laptop or netbook which you can leave turned on then you can use Freedombone to provide your own internet services, such as blogging, wiki, email, chat and social networking and have independence from the well known internet companies.

Four Scenarios
Home server
Plugged into your home wifi router. Add a few friends and family as users
Home server + Hotspot
Also provides a wifi hotspot to extend your home network
Server in your pocket
Roaming wireless server with services accessible via onion addresses
Mesh node
Dynamic networks which don't depend on the conventional internet. Distributed, scalable and fully encrypted

This is personal or family scale computing, which can then federate to global proportions. We need community controlled information systems and to achieve that they must be inexpensive and simple to install and maintain. This is the opposite of the current dominant paradigm of titanic server warehouses owned by a tiny number of individuals and it's what is sometimes refered to as "userops" - i.e. a user being able to do what traditionally only a professional systems administrator would be able to.

With a system installed in your home you also have greater legal protection against unwarranted or "bulk warrant" searches. In general as soon as you put your information onto systems which you don't own then you no longer have the same property rights over it, together with "no reasonable expectation of privacy" otherwise known as the third party doctrine. We all know that's a nonsense, and so maybe we should do something about it.

"With the increasing move of our computing to cloud infrastructures, we give up the control of our computing to the managers of those infrastructures. Our terminals (laptops, desktops) might now be running entirely on Free Software, but this is increasingly irrelevant given that most of what actually matters gets executed on a remote closed system that we don’t control. The Free Software community needs to work to help users keep the control of all their computing, by developing suitable alternatives and facilitating their deployment." – Lucas Nussbaum

Today everyone is concerned about privacy on the internet. Wanting privacy doesn't necessarily mean you have "something to hide". It just means having the ability to choose what information to share, with whom and under what conditions and therefore being able to shape your own life story. The loss of ability to choose via the "involuntary sharing" which many people experience when using communications systems built by the well known internet companies, means that you're no longer really running your own affairs and that others may begin to exert an improper amount of influence over you. Mass surveillance is perhaps the ultimate in involuntary sharing and it's only through the use of freedom respecting software together with a solid determination to overcome state and corporate abuses of technology that we can hope to get to the kind of internet in which respect for human dignity is built in as a core feature.


Another problem is the precariousness of the terms of service. Except in rare cases such terms are not easy to read, so many people end up clicking through terms which if explained more clearly they would never agree to. Over the past decade many internet users have had the unpleasant experience of having their blogs, videos or other web content inexplicably removed, typically due to some ill-defined terms of service violation or a false accusation of copyright infringement. There have been valiant attempts to improve the readability of terms of service documents, using icons or clearer language, and to generate a sort of marketplace in which people would choose what web systems they use based on the terms documents - to make the privacy/autonomy bargaining more explicit. These efforts were well-intentioned, but have conclusively failed. Even in the best case, that approach doesn't take into account the coercive network effects or large web systems.

You can bypass all of these dilemmas and take back ownership of your internet content with Freedombone. Originally based upon the Beaglebone Black, Freedombone is a small and cheap home server which enables you to use email, have your own web site and do social networking without any built-in spying and without having to agree to any legal terms of service other than those of your ISP. It provides independence and security in an era where those things are in short supply.

"The deepest problem is that the system architecture that has evolved in recent years holds masses of information on many people with no intelligence value, but with vast potential for political abuse." – Ross Anderson

Freedombone is an example of the internet as it was supposed to be: a network of peers, rather than a small number of gigantic server farms with everyone connecting to them. Even if they're well run, centralised server farms become a conspicuous target for all kinds of nefariousness and in any future wars they're bound to be amongst the first facilities to receive the "shock and awe" treatment. Also consider just what is being "farmed". If a robust information society is desirable then excessive centralisation of control over information should be avoided.

An emphasis of the Freedombone project is the protection of private communications from indiscriminate mass surveillance, otherwise known as "bulk intercept" or "warrantless wiretapping". With only a few exceptions data entering and leaving the system is encrypted using settings recommended by bettercrypto.org. Stored emails are encrypted such that only someone knowing your GPG password can read them and a GPG key is created automatically if you don't already have one. The system is firewalled with only the necessary ports being opened. Exclusively free software is used so that all of it can potentially be security audited and proprietary repositories are disabled by default. There are still numerous security problems with the internet in general and software always contains bugs, but a best attempt has been made to ensure that the Freedombone is at least more secure than average.

This site can also be accessed via a Tor browser at http://4fvfozz6g3zmvf76.onion/

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