Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

Why did secushare pick GNUnet rather than Tor or I2P?

This question is answered on the anonymity page.

How can I log into my account when I'm on a friend's computer?

You would use her copy of the software, or install it first, and log into your identity. The software can then recreate your social "desktop" from materials distributed to your friends and intermediate routers. By accessing your identity you are able to communicate as yourself and read messages that have been waiting for you. You can also bring your identity on a USB stick – by reconnecting to your friends the software will update to the current state, so it is enough to install the USB stick just once. Or you might just bring your entire operating system environment with you on that USB stick:

How do you plan to reach out for non-tech users?

Our software stack is not easy to compile and install. Also, Microsoft and Apple systems are a crazy liability for privacy. That's why we initiated the creation of a trustworthy portable GNU/Linux system to put onto a USB stick. You just boot off of your portable home device, have a mostly private communications environment on whatever computer you are using and can also do your homework or office job using LibreOffice.

What if the software is infiltrated? Can we trust it?

No, you are welcome to not trust it, but you need to find at least one distributor that looks through the source codes, then generates binaries out of it. The distributor is expected to publish or link the sources that were used in generating those binaries. Luckily, our software is reproducible.

Remember that the "federated" alternative is having to trust all administrators of your friends' servers and not being able to check if they left the software as it should be, at all. So being enabled to actually inspect and compile the source yourself or needing to trust only the purveyor of your operating system is a great step forward compared to the federated social web. Even better if we soon had reproducible operating systems.

Why don't you do end-to-end encryption in the browser?

See the dedicated end2end page on that.

Can I leave a message if I need to shutdown my node?

Yes, you can. This question is discussed in the architecture document.

Can I use multiple devices? Will they stay in sync?

Yes. That is discussed in the storage page.

What if all of my friends are offline.

First of all, in a future of eternally activated smartphones, this is hardly ever the case, but beyond that, even if you only have one friend on the system, she will bring in her friends and friends of her friends to you, all willing to help you route messages to her even if you have no further interaction with them. As long as you can get through to the GNUnet backbone, it will always be able to put you in touch with your social neighborhood.

If only two people are using the system, than you're using it wrong. It will probably function anyway, most of the time, just not as good. You do need to know at least one person that knows further people.

What about multiple identities?

PSYC and GNUnet allow you to allocate as many "egos" as you like. The secushare application will try to make that process automatic - as soon as you drag and drop certain contacts into a new box, a new identity will be generated for that group of people. PSYC will then hide the fact that all your egos are operating from the same node being yours, thus making it unlikely for others to figure out who and how many you are. But even if only use one "ego", you can still show different aspects of your personality to different groups of contacts.

Would it be possible to create a VPN over it using PSYC and the social graph?

Yes, social virtual private networks are easy to do once we have the prototype running. Other easy to achieve goals are listed on features.

Why the name?

Why something that sounds as corporate as 'secushare' ?

The moment you will have it in your hands and use it, it will suddenly make sense. It's a basic function of your device. It is named for what it does. It lets you share things with friends, and for the first time external authorities are not involved – so it is secure. See also the introduction.

Why is your website design so old-fashioned?

Because we forked the Internet before it started going sour.

No, that's a joke. The Internet has never been free and respectful of civil rights. We are working on creating one. We'll have to see how much of the web is safe to use on a GNU Internet.

How is this different from XMPP, Diaspora, Matrix?

The mentioned protocols use a federated architecture, they are not distributed systems so instead of dealing with unhosted cryptographic identities of people they deal with accounts on servers that somebody needs to maintain. We discuss the many problems of federation on a dedicated page.

Why don't you use XMPP as a wire protocol?

Because in the history of XMPP, harsh design mistakes were made early on and never corrected for reasons of maintaining compatibility. The PSYC protocol is in several ways more efficient, more flexible, even more extensible and it was designed with distributed scalability in mind rather than XMPP's bolted-on cloud-based scalability which isn't helpful for privacy.

Why don't you use RESTful HTTP?

Because building things on top of HTTP makes sense in a world where your clients use web browsers behind web proxies in a web firewalled world. In GNUnet, nothing of that applies – so RESTful APIs end up being just very inefficient.

Why don't you use Secure Scuttlebutt and Patchwork?

Scuttlebutt is an excellent proof-of-concept that distributed social networking is viable and provides for a nice alternative to Twitter. It implements a pubsub API roughly equivalent to ours. secushare however aims for a different degree of privacy:

  • In secushare, channels are end-to-end encrypted from the source to all its recipients. secushare does not make social interaction accessible to complete strangers as we think it is sociologically a bad practice.
  • When two people have a private conversation in secushare a new channel is created to host that conversation so there is no trace of it in any public stream. Availability is solved differently. Unlike SSB, metadata of who is talking to whom is protected.
  • Large data does not need to be delivered out-of-band.
  • secushare aggregates multiple channels to produce an identity's profile rather than having just one stream.
  • SSBC's gossip network looks like an implementation of opportunistic distribution (like Retroshare, Briar) whereas secushare aims for the more reliable and scalable multicast principle.
  • For this reason, secushare does not need "Pub servers" to host all communications (which therefore can access and harvest them), it uses GNUnet's sybil-attack-resistant routing instead, which builds on a safe and private use of DHT.
  • PSYC is more efficient and flexible than JSON.
  • nodejs is not bootstrappable.
  • All in all, secushare is a lot more complicated.

Would you consider offering Twitter/Facebook gateways?

That isn't neither good for the privacy of our users, nor does it sociologically make sense: it doesn't drive people out of legacy systems if they aren't missing out on something. Facebook didn't need Myspace compatibility to kill it off. For a certain transition period people simply use multiple systems, until the point of disenchantment with the old platform is reached. This could happen to Facebook, if people find more freedom and bliss in secushare. But if you really insist, it's not so hard to whip up a script that will do the crossposting job.

What happens if I post a link?

We haven't decided, yet, what is the best way to deal with that. It is extremily common to just drop a URL into a chat to distribute knowledge, but it triggers all the mechanisms of the broken web to track you down and harvest your curiosity. We could censor links. We could leave them unlinked so you have to copy and paste them. But maybe the best solution is to automate the extraction of the content the link points to and distribute that instead. To those who need to make money over the web, secushare provides ethical means. Stop selling your readers' civil rights.

Why don't you use a blockchain?

But we do, we have millions of blockchains! We are a post-blockchain technology, don't you know?

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