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[liberationtech] Fighting Surveillance by Improving OpenSource Surveillance

Fabio Pietrosanti (naif) lists at
Thu Nov 28 10:21:23 PST 2013

A frequent thinking is, how can we "troll" the surveillance industry
with unconventional methods?

A very nice, yet controversial, way could be to improve Opensource
Surveillance Technologies.

Let me elaborate a bit that thinking.

As we know the surveillance industry is a kind of particular environment
where the technology provider, do enable their governmental customers to
acquire certain "intelligence" capabilities.

It's considered a "rich" market where each sale could account for
several million USD of technological products, system integration
services and maintenance agreements to keep the capabilities up-to-date.

It's a market with very particular characteristics where:
- the geo-political placement of the provider and the customer
(governmental agencies) matter.
- provider's "trust" matter more than the capabilities (ie: features)
- given "opaque" procurements practices, there's plenty of corruption

Given the previous statement, we can verify (thanks to SpyFiles and
similar initiatives) that there are TONS of companies selling products
that provide very similar capabilities.  That do provide very similar,
if not equal, functionalities.

However they are still on the market. Why?

Because "this market" is not bound the normal "market rules" of competition.

IMHO we should transform the surveillance market, to an environment that
follow the "market rules", by introducing an effective competition.

To do so we could foster the creation of opensource surveillance
technologies, highly effective, well done, product-grade, sold to
governments but only on an AGPL licensing basis.

It's plenty of opensource technological components that's being used by
surveillance technology manufacturer, however there's no flagship
opensource surveillance products.

By having an opensource equivalent of most of the commercial
surveillance products, we would strive the "revenues and margins" of the
surveillance manufacturer, many of them would just close, we would
stimoulate differentiation and competition.

By bringing competition to the surveillance marketing, i'm confident
that "the competition" will strongly help to bring transparency.

Ok, it's a controversial idea, to be discussed, with difficult
implementation path, but i'm somehow confident that it could works.

Fabio Pietrosanti (naif)
HERMES - Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights - -

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