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    Floodgap has been hosted on my own hardware with a server-grade line since 2003. One of the bedrooms here is where the servers live. There are UPSes and a portable A/C, and continuous temperature and noise monitoring. I should do a post about that.

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      Where do we go from here? What can a freedom-minded person do to avoid censorship by tech oligarchs?

      Nearly stopped reading here, but I’ll happily post it again and again: It’s not censorship if one company chooses to not do business with you.

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        That’s actually still censorship:

        tr.v. cen·sored, cen·sor·ing, cen·sors To examine and expurgate.

        There’s a subtler meaning in there around “but it isn’t the government doing it”, but given the size of Google, Cloudflare, Facebook, and others who have successfully walled-in the public square, it is pretty disingenuous to pretend like there isn’t at least something going on there.

        For the folks going “hah, so what if it happens to people I don’t like?”–remember that time Tumblr’s ban hurt LGBTQ+ folks? Remember the various pro-BLM folks Twitter banned? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

        It’s completely reasonable for people to be concerned and want to learn how to host their own services, and mocking them for attempted independence seems to me to be both short-sighted and a defection against the hacker spirit.

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          a defection against the hacker spirit

          Also on that topic, I’m reminded of the part in chapter 6 of Hackers by Steven Levy, where the MIT AI Lab hackers hated Multics in part because of its fine-grained usage accounting. Kind of like AWS and similar services, no?

          (So yes, the fact that my current project is all-in on AWS causes me cognitive dissonance. Not sure how to resolve it though. Multi-AZ deployments with automated recovery from instance failures are certainly good for peace of mind.)

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            Think about what infrastructure changes you would need to make in order not to be fully dependent on AWS, and then make them. Even if you don’t switch away from AWS immediately, being prepared to do so will make it easier on you if they do decide for whatever reason to deplatformed you, or if a competing cloud provider starts offering a better deal.

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          maybe it is if the handful of companies that are powerful than most countries decide not to do business with you.

          Regardless of that highly charged political question, I think fighting oligarchy is worthwhile in itself.

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            What is it when all the infrastructure providers, payment processors, banks, and social media platforms all decide to stop doing business with you?

            So glad my beliefs are currently in vogue with whatever you call that collective, whatever their non-censorship is, I’m glad I’m not being subjected to it.

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              I followed this saga at the time, and my impression was that AWS bent over backwards to accommodate this service. It was only after those responsible failed to moderate the statements made by their users that violated the ToS they had willingly agreed to that service was suspended - not terminated.

              The site is back online. The service is not, which really makes one wonder how much this is a genuine wish to offer a free-speech platform and how much it was an attempt to soak a well-healed backer for a lot of money.

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                In what way did they bend over backwards? Was there even a court order telling them to take the site down?

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                  AWS gave them multiple chances to implement effective moderation.

                  There was no court order, the issue was a breach of contract (the ToS).

                  I can recommend Techdirt’s coverage of the issue, with this opinion piece as a good starting point https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210115/00240746061/few-more-thoughts-total-deplatforming-parler-infrastructure-content-moderation.shtml.

                  https://www.techdirt.com/search-g.php?q=parler

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                    That writer seems to think any action is justified as long as it’s done by private companies in a competitive free market. Under that assumption, of course a breach of contract is more than enough reason to suspend service.

                    But if we care about who actually has power in society and how communication is shaped by different actors, this cold comfort. If AWS “bends over backwards” to offer a service they are being paid for, until the risk of a PR crisis makes it not worth it for them, they are still wielding unaccountable power to limit who gets to speak.

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                      Masnick’s position is more nuanced than you summarize it, but the idea of private parties competing in a free market is one that has served the US economy well for a long time.

                      As for AWS “wielding unaccountable power”, they’re far from a monopoly. Oracle is gunning aggressively for their business, as mentioned in other threads on this very page, and in the article I linked.

                      And whose speech are we talking about? The users of the site are free to create accounts elsewhere, and many have surely done so. What’s left is the limited speech rights of the service to make money hosting these users. This right has to be weighed against AWS’ rights to make money providing cloud computing to many other customers, all of whom AWS is aware can change providers if AWS allows toxic actors on its service.

                      If the service’s business model was to make money hosting speech that was banned elsewhere, it bordered on criminal negligence not to take the risk of being suspended into account, and making plans to shift hosting providers accordingly. Again, this points to this being a grift rather than a sound business idea.

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                        I think it is perverse to give any weight to a large company’s “right” to make money in a certain way, when weighed against issues that affect the mass of society. But I suspect you and I disagree fundamentally about this, so there’s probably no use trying to find agreement.

                        Another thing we will probably disagree about: the potential for competition among a small group of companies does not amount to accountability. People have very little say over what these companies do.

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              Agreed. i appreciate the meat of the article but I can definitely do without the edgy quote at the beginning.

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                Ditto with the mentions to Parler (including in the title)

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                haha agreed, this the second time I’ve seen someone cite the “First they came for” poem to defend groups of people actively “coming for” me and my loved ones.

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                  Always feel weird when this kind of content use proto-fascism and right-wing extremists as an example for why we need to fight oligarch censorship. Of all the victims of censorship, those are the one I could not care less.

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                    Of all the victims of censorship, those are the one I could not care less.

                    I think that’s rather the point of the poem, isn’t it?

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                      No. Not when those being censored are the very same people that would want to be the “They” in the poem. The poem is that we shouldn’t stay idle while some group is trying to take advantage over other groups. I feel like what happened right now is that someone actually did speak up…

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                        Not when those being censored are the very same people that would want to be the “They” in the poem.

                        Plenty of people in Weimar Germany felt that way about the communists.

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                        Not really, at least in my reading. It’s not about the dangers of a “couldn’t care less” mindset but rather one of cowardice.

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                        HUAC was first used to jail Nazi sympathizers

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                          And good for them, let them rot in jail for all I care. I don’t mean that we should stand idle while states and corporations consolidate their power. Let’s speak about how HUAC or oligarchs can use their power monopoly and use it against the rest of the population. Let’s discuss about how we can fight against these crackdown in the point of view of freedom and privacy, not about how a right-wing extremist community should have done better.

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                            Who is discussing how a right-wing extremist community “should have done better”? You lost me there.

                            I guess you don’t value the legal and social norm of free speech as such, and take no issue if that norm is violated to target racist groups. You either don’t think that makes it easier to target non-racist groups, or you don’t care.

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                              Who is discussing how a right-wing extremist community “should have done better”?

                              Taken as-is from the article:

                              Parler’s epic fail: A crash course on running your own servers with a shoestring budget

                              I argue that your chances of survival are much better this way, and Parler is foolish for not going this route. We can do better.

                              Parler was cut off by their cloud hosting provider, Amazon. Where do we go from here? What can a freedom-minded person do to avoid censorship by tech oligarchs?

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                                ah

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                        whos coming for you

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                        Hosting your own content is exactly the method by which you work around private platform companies refusing to do business with you for political reasons.

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                        $200 per month in recurring costs at the end. Not bad if you’re running a business, but otherwise pretty steep for home use.

                        But I guess for home use you might as well keep the computer running 24/7… in your home.

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                          But I guess for home use you might as well keep the computer running 24/7… in your home.

                          Pretty much what I do, in conjunction with wireguard (proxying from a $5 VPS).

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                            You may want to proxy from a free oracle VPS instead (10TB transfer/month) https://www.oracle.com/cloud/free/#always-free

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                              What are they getting out of it?

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                                Your contact details, to sell to marketers.

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                                Oh wow thank you for linking this, seems like a great offer. Might make me actually stop paying for hosting completely.

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                                  You become the product there though

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                                    I recently signed up for one, to use as a secondary VM. For an “always free” plan, that’s sure an excellent offer, assuming they don’t change their mind abruptly one day.

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                                      they wouldn’t do that, it says “always” right on the box

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                                One (potential) downside of hosting out of your home is running into your ISP’s AUP (Acceptable Use Policy). Sometimes these outright forbid hosting any servers. But even for those that don’t forbid such acts, they usually have clauses that forbid serving material that is not illegal but is simply indecent, racist, or defamatory. It could prove challenging to remain in compliance if you host a site with user-generated content where even a small number of users are inclined towards posting such things.

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                                  Add a jump host somewhere on the net (eg. some $5/month OVH system) that routes all connections through a VPN (or Tor to an onion service, which would make it harder for the provider to tell your ISP about you) back to the host at home: CloudFlare on a shoestring budget (there are many such providers and by tweaking DNS entries you can hop relatively quickly)

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                                    This doesn’t help you comply with an AUP, just circumvent it.

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                                      That’s often good enough. Using encryption makes it difficult for other agents to see any details about your internet traffic, and that includes your ISP enforcing its AUP on you (which they would be very prone to enforcing selectively, that is, only if they had some reason to think you specifically were a political problem for them).

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                                    Which is when you end up towards running your own ISP, or other such nonsense.

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                                  This is good as far as it goes. Now I’d like to see a beginner’s guide to colocating a small-scale HA cluster (two or three servers), so one doesn’t have to take the whole service down when doing the inevitable kernel update.

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                                    The classic answer is Linux ha http://www.linux-ha.org/wiki/Main_Page

                                    But if you don’t need or want automatic failover (things do go wrong), you can do this fairly easily yourself. Get a block of at least n+1 IPs (n server IPs for management and 1 for incoming traffic). You assign the floating IP on the new side and unassign on the old one. If you don’t care about ongoing connections being dropped, that’s it. If you do, you can migrate live connections using the conntrack module/tools http://conntrack-tools.netfilter.org/conntrackd.html

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                                    $200 per month, but subject to LayerHost’s TOS (no malware, no pirated software) and, transitively, Data Foundry’s AUP, which is basically the standard fare for a hosting service, probably not much different from AWS, GCP, Oracle, OVH, and that entire class of cloud hosts.

                                    What this article effectively recommends is this: Invest more time and incur more expensive start-up costs and maybe ongoing costs in exchange for a more obscure company to cease service without hesitation for a clear breach of contract, after which you’ll have to look someone in the eye when you go pick up your offlined server.

                                    A better solution is to get your own IP space (no more IPv4 available, though) and be your own AS and/or ISP, or find a colocation facility that would go to bat against bigger players, like epik, but even they are drawing a line.

                                    An org shoestring budget would invest time in being a hydra, like Pirate Bay, pictured but not really explored in the article. It’s not lost on me that seemingly well-funded but problematic sites can’t stay online but a scrappy piracy site funded by crappy ads can stay online for years despite legal battles.