COFACE Families Europe: COFACE Families Europe launches reflection on peer-to-peer connections and decentralised technologies

Safer Internet Day is a privileged moment to raise awareness about online safety and take action to create a better internet for all. “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you” is the theme of the Safer Internet Day 2018.

COFACE Families Europe hosted a training seminar “Analog families in a Digital World” on 1 February in Sofia, Bulgaria. COFACE is currently examining the pros and cons of decentralised technologies to help internet users take back control of their data, and the benefits they can provide in terms of inclusion, facilitated access to knowledge, to online presence, and the protection of key digital rights like anonymity, or combating censorship.

COFACE reflections included:

1. Examining alternatives to centralised online service providers
Some of the examples included: Cloudron which allows people to host their own website and run a server directly from home; Mastodon and Diaspora, both of which are decentralized alternatives to Twitter and Facebook; Open Bazaar which is a decentralized market place to sell goods directly to other people, in replacement of Amazon; Wikipedia, although it is hosted in a centralized manner (Wikimedia data centers), allows for decentralised participation and contribution from users from all over the globe.

2. Learning about Blockchain technology and its applications
Some of the examples included: Musicoin: an innovative way to compensate musicians for their work, without the need for record labels; Golem: a way to share your computer’s computing power to people that might need it; Sia: a system that allows anyone to rent unused space on their hard drives; Ethereum: a project which allows for the execution of “smart contracts” in a decentralised way.

3. Reflecting on the societal implications such technologies will bring in the future
The trade-offs between more control and direct liability for one’s actions. The impossibility for censorship which may be positive (in the case of political persecution in certain countries) or negative (the spread of child abuse material). The transfer of power back to the people and the possibility of direct democracy and direct action by citizens.

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