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[liberationtech] a privacy preserving and resilient social network

Alireza Mahdian alireza.mahdian at
Sun Jun 30 01:08:01 PDT 2013

Hi Stephen,
> 1.  Where can a copy of your dissertation be procured?  Is it available in an appropriate Open Access repository or would other steps need to be taken to secure a copy?
a copy of my dissertation can be found here:
> 2.  As designer of a social network, what is your view of the Internet as a transport layer today?  How will it fare against various degrees of social and political instability found currently across this planet?

I am not sure how to answer the first part of your question. Are you referring to the transport layer as the one in the OSI model or something else. if you are referring to the layer in the OSI model based on what I have heard in the news and what I have experienced in my home country a controlling entity (which usually belongs to the government or is controlled by the government or has to answer to the government) can pretty much do anything to its customers. I remember that the Iranian government used to re-route all the traffics destined for google servers to some server inside Iran and by forging certificate from comodo they managed to obtain a lot of username and password pairs from the Iranian users. highly sophisticated traffic monitoring and analysis techniques can also be used to trace contents and connections to users as well. Social engineering is maybe the most effective and least expensive way of getting results these days I suppose. In my opinion a secure layer on top of the transport layer that provides privacy in its complete form would be the ultimate solution (something that would only seize functioning if the IP infrastructure is brought down) but with the current technology I am not really sure if it is possible. 

> 3.  Distilling it down to perhaps a couple sentences that do not repeat the thread subject line, how would you pitch usage of this social network to an average US consumer in contrast to mass market tools like Facebook or Twitter?

MyZone can be thought of as Facebook (without the apps) but as a peer 2 peer system. It is not intended to be used as twitter. If a user is concerned about the privacy and by privacy I am not talking about unlinkability (anonymity) but the fact that the provider might sell or provide the content of your profile to third parties (as I mentioned the case of NSA) then MyZone is perhaps a viable alternative. However I need to mention that Facebook and twitter are providing more than 99% availability and a peer to peer system (at least MyZone) can not compete with that level of availability. I am hoping that with almost constant availability of high speed internet on handheld devices that are very capable of hosting such services there would be a movement in social networks towards distributed architectures and I hope MyZone can contribute to that movement. 

> Stephen Michael Kellat
> --
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Alireza Mahdian
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado at Boulder
Email: alireza.mahdian at

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