It’s a New Year!

It’s a brand New Year. Happy New Year 2015!

It’s another new year. Another year in life. Its normal for people to take “new year” resolutions every year, and not keep them too. I’m a similar person. I used to take resolutions every new year. The most that I’ve kept up my resolutions was 1 month. I have never been able to keep my resolutions. So, 2 years ago, I decided to stop taking resolutions and just take decisions. I’d take decisions to reach a particular target in the following year. If that didn’t happen, the target would get postponed. Its not like someone is forcing anyone to take resolutions and then keep them, but still. Its another new year and I have no resolutions for this year either.

The past year was a very eventful year for me. It is exactly one year today that I started blogging publicly (until then, I used to blog only in my mind). It is the year that I involved myself with mozilla. It is the year that I got to know more about Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) and became a FLOSS enthusiast. It is the year that I became more cautious about my privacy on the web (Digital Privacy). There are so many things that happened this year that changed my life in a different way. One can say that the past year was like a turning point in my life, except that I didn’t turn around, just chose a different path to lead.

Right now, being a FLOSS enthusiast, I look forward to a life without closed, proprietary corporates snooping over my shoulder. I’m attempting to live without any of the evils of the world – Facebook, WhatsApp, Microsoft and of course, the evilest of them all – Google. I was of the notion that one cannot live without Google, and I always exempted Google from my blacklist. Though, it still is not possible for a normal person to live on the web without Google, it certainly is possible to do so virtually, though I have to admit that it is not as easy for anyone and everyone. You’d need some very good experience with web hosting and stuff to get there. But my attempt this year is to isolate everything closed or proprietary. But then again, I’m not a hard-core extremist like Richard M Stallman is. So, I’ll always have a hypocrite side behind my back too. But as much as possible, I’ll try to be as free and open as possible. And when I say ‘free’, it means free as in free speech and not free beer or gratis.

Its better to know what you’re doing and sharing, than to blindly believe someone you don’t even know to treat your data with as much care as you would do to your own.

So, in short, my target for this year (or maybe for 2016 too) is to be completely “free and open” – using only FLOSS technologies for everything I do related to technology – which is basically EVERYTHING I do.

Facebook supports Tor – Does that mean I’m safer?

The social networking giant Facebook announced that users could log in to the social network “anonymously” using the anonymous network Tor.

Really?

When I first read about this news, I was like

“Dude, you’re already giving out most of your life and your personal information through your posts on facebook. If you wanted to be anonymous, why would you be ‘selling’ all those information to facebook? Facebook itself collects enough and more data on the inside, I don’t see any point in having an anonymous link. If you truly want to be anonymous, quit facebook for good!

My perspective of facebook’s intention behind this is to get more users to use Tor which is an open, public network which can be sniffed easier than the public internet. If that happens, these so-called internet dictators can sniff over the Tor network and gather even more data. Facebook hasn’t yet changed its privacy policies for the users that are going to be using Tor, which means, all the policies that are currently applied to the users apply to the so-called “anonymous” users too. That doesn’t change anything other than 2 facts :

  1. The URL that you use to connect to facebook would be different from now on – it would be https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/
  2. You would be using a different browser, system as well as network.

Nothing else.

These are my questions to facebook and to you to ponder over :

  • Does having a different link and connecting to a different network mean you’re safer? Does that change anything at all?
  • Does that mean that your browsing is so-called “anonymous”?
  • Well, even if it was, all your data isn’t right? It still can be used by facebook however they please right?
  • Does the legal terms (especially point 2) of facebook change if you’re using Tor to log in to facebook?

So, in short, if you so much as just have an account on facebook, you’ve already compromised your “anonymity”. If you really wanted “anonymity”, you’d not have that account. And even if you have one now, and want anonymity now, go ahead and leave facebook for good. There’s nothing productive you can do on facebook these days.

No Facebook or Twitter or Social Media? You don’t exist!

In this world of Social Media, even 10-year olds or maybe even younger kids are on facebook. Technology has grown so much that everyone knows everything today. Kids are in relationships. Babies play with iPads. Its a very weird world. Almost 99% of the world is connected to facebook almost 99% of their time. Then there’s Twitter, Google+ and lots more.

But what if one decided that they didn’t want to be wasting their precious time on such stuff anymore. How do we reach them? How do we communicate to them? eMail? Well, other than business and professional emails, the purpose of an email account is to log into facebook. Well, I think the company that benefited most from the growth of facebook must be gMail or Google because people need email IDs to log into facebook and for that they rely on gMail. And many people have more than one account on either sites. Being in college, I happen to visit colleges occasionally to conduct sessions, I generally ask a few very simple question to the students there:

  1. “How many of you use eMail actively other than for logging into facebook?”
  2. Most of the time the hands that pop up can be counted easily.

  3. “How many of you have a clean inbox? With no spam or facebook mails.”
  4. Not much again.

  5. “How many have 0-5 unread mails in your inbox at any given time?”
  6. None.

  7. “How many of you have heard of IRC / Internet Relay Chat?”
  8. None. Its like Greek to them.

The world has gone into a culture where facebook is everything and nothing else matters. People don’t know what emails are used for. Before facebook or any other instant messaging (IM) service, there was something called Internet Relay Chat (IRC). No one knew that is where all Instant Messaging services evolved.

Well, the question is if you’re not on facebook or Twitter, do you even exist? Is there is another way to reach you? If you’re a tech-savvy, you might reply that you can be contacted via eMail or IRC. But what if you’re not tech-savvy and you don’t know the real use of email or IRC? Are you dead? Are you not alive if you’re not connected online to a social network?

Watch this video and decide for yourself.