Rediscovering Decentralized Networks

Niti Bhan writes about African governments blocking access to parts of the Internet, Facebook among them:

As civil society groups and others raise their voices in support for peoples disconnected the global digital economy and society today, I believe we need to be cautious about what we’re speaking up for. I would not speak up for Facebook’s rights – there’s ample evidence they’ve trampled on mine even though I’m not a registered user of their platform – nor would I support other private sector tech giants headquartered far away.

The perception that people cannot communicate with each other, nor organize rightful protests, without the use of this one company or that one is a dangerous one in a world where these companies neither care for our rights nor our privacy.

Instead, there’s an opportunity for the emergence of a plethora of independent African “anti-block” social and commercial solutions -whether SMS based or USSD based or whatever the technology specialists deem fit – that can then be supported if shut down, instead of us raising our voices in support of the Facebook Group of Companies.

There is tremendous opportunity here because we already built and have experience using a decentralized Internet and many of those who had a hand in that are still alive. It’s only been relatively recently that we’ve re-CompuServed the Internet, and it’s not too late to rediscover more robust, decentralized networks of networks.