Brexit and Trump should give you enough reason to move to your own cloud

Originally published at: https://nextcloud.com/blog/brexit-and-trump-should-give-you-enough-reason-to-move-to-your-own-cloud/

An opinion post by Swapnil Bhartiya


Privacy has always been an important topic in the tech world. There are many people who are not concerned about privacy, they are willing to hand over their home address, e-mail ID and phone number to get a 2% discount at a store.

Then there are those who are obsessed with Google ‘tracking’ your online activities for advertisements and invest quite a lot of time and effort to de-Google themselves. I have not come across a single case in the last 12 years of my journalism career where the ‘ad’ data by Google was exploited. I come across cases on a weekly basis where big retail stores get compromised and user’s sensitive information gets leaked.

Last but not least, there are people who deal with sensitive data and don’t want government agencies to have access to that data.

Where's the problem?

There are a lot of easy ways to use plugins that stop online services from tracking you, so anonymised tracking for ads doesn’t worry me. What really worries me is state sponsored tracking that can be used to hunt people for political reasons, to stifle freedom of speech.

Many governments around the globe have been working towards mass surveillance; they tend to believe that everything that you make online belongs to them. New laws are created that give governments unprecedented control over their citizens data. Ironically, governments are becoming more and more secretive and citizen’s lives are being forced to become transparent. Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Things got even more complicated with Brexit and victory of Donald J Trump in the US. Trump is not a huge fan of privacy or open internet. The new UK government is also heading in the same direction.

Some news reports that are worth reading, putting this in context.

This means it has never been more important ever before to protect your privacy and protect your data from the prying hands of your own governments.

When it comes to personal, private and sensitive files, you can’t trust any ‘public cloud’, including but not limited to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox or iCloud. Not only these are proprietary solutions but also since they ‘host’ your data, they become the co-owners.

This is what happens to ‘your own files’ when you choose any of these services:

    1) They get the right (through EULA) to scan your files, which means going through them, it doesn’t matter if it’s done via machine or a human goes through them. 2) They get the right to delete, or block you from accessing your own files for any reason. 3) They are free to hand over your files to the government without your consent or authorization. 4) The biggest of all, they become the ‘co-owner’ of YOUR files. 5) Access to your own files is at the mercy of these providers. 6) If you don’t have a local backup, you will lose access to your files as soon as you stop using their services. 7) The US government has started asking for traveler’s passes; sooner or later they might demand access to your cloud services. Who knows?

The answer

There is only one answer to all of the questions: ‘own your data’. I heavily recommend that you must only use file sync and storage services that are not only open source, but also run on your server so that your files are not at the mercy of a company or subject to a plethora of laws, which expose them to mass surveillance by government agencies.

There are many open source solutions out there, and Nextcloud is one of them. However, as someone who has used almost all of those services, I settled down with Nextcloud due to some of the reasons that I listed in this article. In addition to the privacy and security advantages of Nextcloud, it’s also the most active project around. It’s more than just a file sync solution; Nextcloud is a platform that allows users to plug many services to it; including running a full fledged LibreOffice Online service on your Nextcloud server.

Since it’s a fully open source solution without any proprietary code like Seafile or ‘paid exclusive’ features, you can participate in the development and add features that ‘you’ need in this product.

If you already don’t run Nextcloud on your server, in my next article I will help you get started with Nextcloud.

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He tweeted his dislike of the title 2 classification:

Then appointed the most anti-Net neutrality person in the world to head up the FCC, of which there is plenty of coverage.

It’s not that easy, I’m afraid. In most cases you are still dependent on other providers, it is never 100% your data, even when using Nextcloud, as we have to trust our hosting providers. Not everybody has his/her own server at home

@MirceaSava there is plenty around.

https://www.google.nl/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=net+neutrality+trump
https://www.google.nl/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=net+neutrality+brexit

@nomad Most of us are capable of creating their own home server on a Pi3 and connect it to the internet.
For those that cannot, Nextcloud box may be their solution.

@pieter Most of us are capable of creating their own home server on a Pi3 and connect it to the internet. For those that cannot, Nextcloud box may be their solution.

Yes, this might be true for many users. But at least two conditions must be met:

(1) You need to live in a wealthy part of the world with good infrastructure. Here where I am located currently (with 2-6 MB/s down and 0,5-0,8 MB/s upload) and with the need to restart the router all the time this is not the case (even in rural Europe, especially in Germany, there are many areas without broadband!).

(2) You need to live a stable sedimentary life with a fixed address. When you move around often (as I and many others do), you will be without access to your data for weeks or months regularily.

I don’t say Nextcloud is a bad solution. It’s a tremendous project and it is still better to host your data with Nextcloud on a VPS or shared hosting than with Google.

But I wish Nextcloud would be more careful with making such bold statements as it also was the case in many other news and annoncements. Actually I find the language used quite alienating, it sounds too corporate, Google like….

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I put in a number of links to articles around actions that are taking place all around, from cracking down on whistleblowing to journalism.

Of course, this isn’t ‘just’ Trump and Brexit and Le Pen. Even South Africa, Russia and Indonesia and South Korea and Hungary and Brazil and other countries moving in a similar direction towards a kleptocracy, a government that is mostly focused on stealing and getting its leaders rich - it is bad, but there’s much more worrying. In my opinion the simple direction technology is taking is troublesome. Even if there were no huge political shifts we’d be in trouble.

In any case - I didn’t write this, of course, it is Swapnil’s words :wink:

I see what you’re saying and you are not wrong. There are big challenges still out there.

We are actually working on addressing those points. Our work on Federation, in particular, is explicitly aiming to deal with a lack of fixed addresses. We even did discuss the scenario of using an old Android phone as Nextcloud Server (!) and this is still something we’d like to pursue. It is technically not easy, but certainly possible!

We also are working on making migrating users from one server to another easier to make it possible for people to pick the best place for their data.

Now sure, there are other technologies out there that might have an architecture that makes it easier to accomplish some of these things. But they inevitably lack in other areas and for sure don’t have the resources, community size and mind share we have. I think, over the last 7 years, the people behind our project have shown many times that limitations others said would make X, Y or Z impossible actually can and have been dealt with!

When I joined ownCloud, people told me it would never be scalable or secure - look today, you won’t find an open source file sync and share solution that is more scalable and secure than Nextcloud. How many have multiple >100K users instances, several >1million users even and we have MUCH bigger ones as work in progress. And security-wise - in no other solution has such a strong focus on and puts in so much effort in security; who has a 5K bug bounty program? No other project in our space comes even over 10% of that…

So, just looking at our track record, I’d say I am not overly optimistic. Just realistic: the Nextcloud community has shown to be freaking awesome and I am convinced it will continue to break barriers like it has in the past.

@jospoortvliet Thanks for the information, Sounds exciting - even without your superlatives (see what I wrote about marketing language in the previous post). In this regard, I also hope more work with encryption. As others said before it, a tricky thing, many things can go wrong. Seafile has client-side encryption. I’d be happy if NC would go in this direction as well. I don’t see Seafile as competitor, by the way, more like brother or sister…

he, I guess after so many years - that’s just how I talk now :smiley: sorry!

And yeah, I don’t see Seafile as competition, nor other projects - mostly because they are so much smaller. Most have their niche (like - Seafile will always be faster and lower overhead at syncing lots of small files) and that’s totally cool. I’d rather have us look up at Google and Dropbox than down to smaller players anyway…

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That’s a very good statement I agree with! :+1:

The article is topped with [quote=""]
An opinion post by Swapnil Bhartiya
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If you have no broadband you will also have trouble accessing google cs. unless you travel to a location where you do have access to broadband… (a hack unsafe Raststätte Wifi?). Have your router restart at given intervals to be sure. If your (consumer) router cannot, put a plug timer in between. Install the nextcloud client so you are not completely dependent when travelling.

No you don’t. I am unlucky my provider does not allow me to have a fixed IP. That is why I created my own updater script in combination with cloudflare to regularly check the actual public IP and update the DNS using cloudflare api. In my settings that makes it max half an hour without. But you can set a cron for shorter intervals.

There are several of these scripts to be found on github.

Else having your data on a VPS on a location and in a country you choose is still more safe than Google cs.

In addition to running nextcloud on a vps, use encryption. If you upload client-side encrypted files to your vps, your provider may hand them over, but they won’t be good for anybody.

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Sorry, I must have overlooked the replies…

There is enough speed to use Nextcloud on a VPS but if I would used it installed at home, then the 0,8 MB upload speed would not be enough, right?. And regarding Raststätte Wifi, I think people who use Nextcloud know that you should not use public Wifi without a VPN and that VPNs are easy to install, you can install them on the same server

Misunderstanding. I didn’t mean stable ip-address but stable living address, I mean you should not move around, change flats, doing all those things especially people do who rely on cloud services…

Then think of the issue who has been up recently: Not everybody is allowed to run a server at home.

And: Running a server at home is more appropriate for geeks and experts, makes using NC an elite thing to do. Using Nextcloud on a VPS or shared hosting makes it easier for everybody to use it and free themselves from Google.

So please, dear Nextcloud: think of your non-übergeek users as well who have to rely on external hosting servers. Thanks!

I agree when it comes to the client-side encryption. Encrypting and decrypting the user files on the fly would be the ultimate feature for the NC clients.

Wanna open a feature request @nomad ? :wink:
(if not open yet)

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Running a server from home doesn’t differ much from running it from a VPS. Yes shared hosting may be easiest but has it drawbacks as well. Having an easy VPN on a hard to setup server contradicts…

Anyway when on a shared host or VPS, who cares where you are… as long as you have a connection (VPN) you can do whatever and where you like… what makes you think you cannot move when your nextcloud is on a VPS or shared host? (This made me think you wanted one in your home)

no, I mean when I do as suggested by you to run NC on a server at home, then I cannot move around. Therefore I said home servers are for people with stable settled life

Well, as long as you have internet at your new home, you can take your nc server everywhere you want :slight_smile:

I love that this is the first post I see from the blog as a new member. This is is exactly why I’ve moved most of my data to my own cloud and servers offshore.

The main reason, though?

I’m a US investigative journalist (or at least Trump, et. als. cause me to return to our own form of tradecraft to deal with this administration and all that’s going on in America that got him elected).

My dad also is one of the world’s most controversial activists artists and guess where his art is exhibiting later this year? Brexitland.

So, I think you understand why I had to make some moves. Now, to be able to get my script working. I’ll post next about that.

ja, to me not Trump ( I do more fear who’s coming next) nor Brexit are the biggest threats. It’s social media with its rampant Ad and Tracker Markets, Corporations with their greed to collect as much bits of information about their own customer base, most of them is shared and reselled, some companies even can’t protect their databases (Yahoo) and - last but not least - the increase of profiling and surveilling us in the name of whatever, mostly so-called terror. All these things made me to move to nextcloud. I want to control my data, I want to decide by my own whom I trust and what I consider as threat. I want the single kill switch of all my links, images and shared data in the internet.

Watch this short movie back from 2004 I think… think about it…
https://cloud.jakobssystems.de/index.php/s/a26bJPklRmxlxho

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I’ve considered all of those things and have restructured my digital life accordingly. But, Trump is sending the Department of Justice after journalists, right now, today. So, I need to be concerned about 45. Those who aren’t should really rethink that stance. They’re not safe, either. My unique personal experiences during the last decade tell me that. Trump is the POTUS that is putting what the previous five did on steroids mixed with LSD. HE even freaks THEM out.

The same with going to the UK with my elder father. Visual artists, especially political activist ones like my dad, are targets just like investigative journalists.

But, no one should underestimate this US administration or those in the UK, a country which has negative zero privacy operating under a government whose officials (other people like the rest of us, mind you, all of them, just with different job titles) seems proud of that.

I’m planning for the future as well, though, because it’s sure not going to get better from here.