BoF: Unhosted: Personal Data Freedom in the Cloud Save to my Google calendar

21/05/2012 20:00-21:30
Main Hall
A trend in the use of computers and Internet in higher education is the use of “cloud” services for critical applications that before were running on the desktop systems at the institutes. This poses fundamental questions about data ownership and portability and privacy for both the user and the content.

The aim of the Unhosted project is to change this in a fundamental way. It proposes a protocol that separates the application logic from the data. The data is retrieved from a data source of the user's choosing to the browser. The browser uses the "web application" to work with this "remoteStorage" data, without any of the data ever leaving the browser. Using a simple combination of Webfinger, OAuth, REST and CORS, which is supported by all modern browsers without the need for special plugins or add-ons, the storage of user data can be separated entirely from web applications.

Another major advantage of Unhosted is that applications are written in HTML, CSS and JS and thus require no server side components other than the generic storage service. Hosting an application is done using just static data and thus can easily be done by a CDN. This brings the advantages of FLOSS software on the desktop to the Internet where until now most services were free to use, but lack the freedoms provided by FLOSS. Anyone can host the (modified) application now without needing the deep pockets of Google or Facebook, even if it becomes a success.

The first websites that accept unhosted accounts have been launched in the past few months, and later this year the Netherlands will be the first country in the world to offer remoteStorage accounts to all their students and academic staff.

If you are concerned about "the cloud" and its implications for the freedom and privacy of your country's students, then this BoF session will interest you. We will walk you through the steps you will need to take to start offering remoteStorage to the users in your network, and discuss your reactions to this exciting new web technology.