New Data Infrastructures

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Berliner Gazette:


In order to have data managements in favor of the common good, so we can ensure autonomous control & non-commercial use of citizen data, as well as equitable access, sustainability and the protection of fundamental and collective rights, we envision the following infrastructure.

Most people live with a ‘privacy paradox’: we know that data is collected about us, and we are bothered by the fact that this means we have little privacy. But paradoxically, we fail to act to protect this privacy, instead (for the most part) we continue to use products and services that produce feelings that privacy is violated. Why? Because these products and services generate ‘network effects’ where participating generates social and economic value. If you don’t participate, you miss out. Thus the privacy paradox is a game that we can’t win.

We propose not to solve this paradox or propose a way to win the game, but to change the game itself. Our vision includes proposals for alternative data management structures that operate at various scales, linked into networked infrastructure (internet infrastructure with its standards and protocols), that have the potential to forestall or challenge the collection of personal or collective information without consent.

Some of the features that we propose exist within technologies that have already been built or proposed both historically or in recent years. Some have not yet been assembled and require us to imagine solutions outside of obvious ones.

Software and devices

The devices through which we share our data and receive information, such as phones, and laptops other connected objects, are the entry points. These data infrastructures should rely on free / open source software and hardware, open protocols and give access to easy end-to-end encryption tools, easy anonymization tools to preserve digital anonymity and privacy.

Network infrastructure

We will have internet/network/phone/energy infrastructures that are owned by us, or in any case run in our interest. For this we need net neutrality so that there are no discriminatory tiers of service, and access is equal. The internet consists of nodes, optical fibre cables, ISPs, points of internet exchange and satellites. Currently the large majority of that entire infrastructure is privately owned. In practice our vision would mean that (parts of) that infrastructure would either be public infrastructure or commons/autonomous infrastructure.

Examples of what would likely be public are internet exchange points (backbone), optical fiber cables and ISPs; on the other hand, what could be owned commonly are networks, but also ISPs. We will also have commons/community driven infrastructure in the form of local networks, community/self-hosted solutions and for-profit ISPs. There will be expanding self-hosted local-community networks that are meshed with a (more basic) public infrastructure.

Data storage

We imagine networked (local) data commons,with both data bases and data repositories, governed in the common interest of the community providing the data. These data banks and repositories are either commonly hosted or publicly hosted. On the other hand there is also a place for private data banks, although what we share with these is up to each indivudual.

– public analytics – common analytics – private analytics


We imagine offline services at a community level, caching services from an ecological point of view, and also community alternatives to commercial services (gmail, google doc, skype, doodle, dropbox, google search engine, facebook, ….) (look here). The governance of these alternative services and their funding remain an open question.


We will invent and negotiate common protocols, to allow online and offline digital activity, to allow us to deploy discriminating tools for exchanging data (encryption / filter) considering what information we want to exchange with whom, thus allowing direct and partial or complete connection to a database. We will invent and implement new protocols for banking, shopping, exchanging cultural contents, discussing the TOR network and the blockchain technology can be considered as premise.


– define structure and aims of alternative data infrastructures, – define social protocols/governance, – define economic model, – drawing exercise: draw internet, draw your data.


What it is: – Enabler of data communication (collection) and processing, – socio-technological (needs to be governed/organized), – hardware (servers, cables, routers) + software (protocols, libraries, frameworks, algorithms) + devices

What we need: – have a reliable access to a neutral internet, – common autonomous infrastructure (hardware & software) to do data analysis, – organisation to drive analysis.

Protocols and services

What we want: – being able to use internet in an anonymous way, – anonymous mail & encrypted/ communication, – have transparent algorithms, – public back doors.

Enablers: – open source hardware, – open source software, – open formats.


– encryption, – should have the ability to chose to whom you open the data (linked to encryption, key management, etc.), – education on digital security, anonymity and privacy."