By Rafael Laguna, CEO Open-Xchange
We’ve already discussed the threat to your privacy posed by internet giants like Google and Facebook. Users voluntarily – often unwittingly – hand over valuable personal data to these companies that are then mined for psychological and behavioural insights to be sold to the highest bidder.
These companies sell you their ‘free’ products for the price of your data, which has helped build them into some of the biggest companies in the world. Google, for example, knows what you are thinking from your search history, who you are talking to from your Gmail account, and where you are going thanks to Maps. This kind of data is almost priceless to advertisers, marketers, and government agencies. It could be valuable to other more nefarious types, too, if they were ever hacked.
The only way to really battle corporate surveillance and information silos is by supporting alternative, Open Source / Open Data projects. OpenStreetMap is a fantastic example of such aproject which creates the software and free geographic data for anybody to create, use and share, and already powers map data on thousands of websites, mobile apps and hardware devices. These maps are often more accurate and detailed as their commercial counterparts.
Not-for-profit and entirely community-driven, OpenStreetMap emphasizes the local knowledge of its contributors, who include hundreds of thousands of mapping enthusiasts, and engineers running their servers.
These types of open projects represent a great way for internet users to ‘reclaim the internet’ if you will. By supporting alternatives to the data giants, we can protect our data from becoming controlled by these monopolistic data regimes.
Mapbox, who provides custom online maps for companies, using data from open sources including OpenStreetMap, has pledged that it will match the next €10k of donations 1:1. This means that for every donation you make these days, Mapbox will contribute the same amount again, bringing OSM closer to their goal of €70k.
We’ve contributed €1,000 this week to support this initiative and keep the internet open. If you value your right to privacy, and believe that the Internet and our data should not be controlled by a small number of monoliths, then donate now. The future of the internet depends on it.