The reason why we as consumers get held to ransom by Big Tech is because they are the one’s who create walled gardens of their apps to ensure it is very difficult to leave their service and to maintain any communication with your friends or family who stay behind. They count on that sticky network effect to hold you in place.

The world was not always like this, as we see with e-mail where any app can e-mail any other app. Neither was messaging as it was also once open.

So what we need is a protocol to be broadly supported that will connect anyone to any other app supporting that open protocol, but which allows end-to-end encryption. We need apps to support it, just like Hubzilla which built in a number of plugins to allow it to communicate with Diaspora, XMPP, Fediverse, etc all from one place.

What do we do about Big Tech like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft? Well either they must be mandated by law to build in this protocol support, or we as consumers must start voting with our choices and not make use of services that are walled gardens. Our future lies in an open interoperable Internet offering privacy. The future cannot be walled gardens separating us all.

From the link below the key columns are the License (how open is it for anyone to use without cost?) and End-To-End Encryption (can I use it privately?). From these requirements we can see that the following protocols could be suitable to consider:

  • Bitmessage (Desktop P2)
  • Briar (P2) but Android only
  • Echo
  • Jami (Desktop and Mobile P2P)
  • Matrix (Desktop and Mobile Federated Client-Server)
  • Ricochet (Desktop P2P)
  • Signal (Centralised Desktop and Mobile)
  • SIMPLE (more phones with SIP?)
  • Tox (Desktop and Mobile P2P)
  • XMPP (Desktop and Mobile Decentralized Client-Server)

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instant_messaging_protocols

#technology #instantmessengers #interoprability #bigtech #privacy

The classic counter-argument is The ecosystem is moving by Moxie: Standardization slows down innovation.

Maybe it is simply too early to standardize on a messenger protocol. XMPP is a proper standard but Big Tech out-innovates it by providing additional features. For example, WhatsApp rolled out voice calls before an XMPP extension was available, if I remember correctly.

In general, I believe federation to be the ultimate sweet spot. P2P is too hard for most people but currently necessary in some cases like whistleblowing. Centralized services provide the best innovation speed. If run as a non-profit it is also ok (e.g. Signal) but ultimately the weak spot is that they are subject to a single nation and especially the US is not the best here with its shadow courts. Another option is to turn them into a government service. That would kill the innovation but something like Twitter does not need no innovate much anymore in my opinion.

For example, WhatsApp rolled out voice calls before an XMPP extension was available, if I remember correctly.

No, the Jingle extension to xmpp was about five years ahead of whatsapp voice calls. How many clients (and servers) that implemented it may be a different matter though.

GadgeteerZA
creator
12M

Yes not sure which came first but the good thing to have done for WhtsApp would have been to have helped accelerate the chnage at XMPP in that case so that everyone could benefit. They did start out using XMPP - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13219925.

Just not sure why Signal is holding back on eliminating phone numbers for registration and insisting on advertising your number to all contacts.

Requiring phone numbers is a lazy anti spam mechanism.

GadgeteerZA
creator
22M

True and also another way of ensuring people connect to one another but it exposes privacy a lot.

I think that’s an important point. You don’t need to remember to all your contacts you’re using this messenger. They can just use it with you.

Matrix has identity servers.

You should also have Session on that list

getsession.org

Session is an end-to-end encrypted messenger that minimizes sensitive metadata, designed and built for people who want absolute privacy and freedom from any form of surveillance.

Session is an open-source, public-key-based secure messaging application which uses a set of decentralized storage servers and an onion routing protocol to send end-to-end encrypted messages with minimal exposure of user metadata. It does this while also providing common features of mainstream messaging applications

GadgeteerZA
creator
32M

Session is an app not a protocol

Session does run on the Loki protocol tho IIRC and they let people self host and whatnot

i run my own xmpp server and some clients support e2e encryption infact i prefer xmpp over Matrix because its lighter and pretty much dose the same thing i think

GadgeteerZA
creator
12M

Yes it is light and probably easier to use for many. I actually set up my own ejabberd XMPP server just for testing a few things out.

Briar is available for Linux. The app works.

thunder
32M

Only if you install a proprietary android emulator and allow it to have privileged access to your system. So, no thanks.

GadgeteerZA
creator
02M

But right now it’s not a solution for all devices - that really holds it back.

ufra
32M

there was a discussion about using briar on the desktop here a while ago and even a c/briar community (https://lemmy.ml/c/briar)

GadgeteerZA
creator
42M

Downside right now with Briar is it would have to certainly run on iOS, Linux, MacOS, Windows etc to become viable. Som eof those protocols listed already present across all devices. I’m not sure why after all this time Briar has still not released an iOS app?

ufra
32M

There was a request for an ios app and the dev team estimated it would cost $250k worth of dev time or some such and tabled it.

GadgeteerZA
creator
32M

Qow $250k is a fortune considering there ialready an open source app available as a basis to work from…

ufra
32M

I’ve never hired an iOS developer, but these two sites can give you a ballpark figure:

http:// www. payscale .com/research/US/Job=iOS_Developer/Salary says $80,582 per year for an iOS developer in the US.

https:// calc.gsa . gov/?q=mobile%20developer says $192,000 per year (assuming 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year) for a mobile developer. The site doesn’t have data for iOS specifically.

So that would be $100,727 or $240,000 respectively for 15 person-months, plus a project manager. According to the first site it would be cheaper to hire developers in Germany. And of course people might be willing to work on a project like this for less than their usual commercial rates.

https://code.briarproject.org/briar/briar/-/issues/445

GadgeteerZA
creator
02M

Yep and an app does not take a year to develop. The better the dev, the quicker they can put the app together especially if the protocol is well documented and supported already.

ufra
22M

my experience as an ios user is that there isn’t much enthusiasm amongst indie developers for supporting it. understandable in many ways, but in terms of providing a universal service its sorta required.

GadgeteerZA
creator
12M

Possible also that iOS has iMessages and maybe not many are open to the bigger ecosystem.

ufra
02M

duplicate removed

Matrix.

GadgeteerZA
creator
12M

It was on the list already I think, but the question was more around is going with protocols like this, the way forward rather instead of walled gardens like Facebook?

You can use E-Mail with Delta Chat.

GadgeteerZA
creator
12M

Not really to connect all sorts of different messaging services together with presence indication? Essentially Delta Chat uses e-mail as the protocol (SNTP/IMAP) for mesaging. I really don’t thing e-mail would be able to power all the different messaging services. I know it has encryption and cvonnects to anything, but it won’t be instant enough for scaling to connect different services. E-mail as a protocol was never intended for this use - it wa designed fro store and forward.

It is almost instant in most providers and the idea with Delta Chat is build a specification over it for server side too. (Chat over IMAP).

GadgeteerZA
creator
12M

Yes the thing is the app is Delta Chat and the protocol is e-mail with OpenPGP. So you are actually proposing that e-mail and OpenPGP be used as the standard protocol for instant messaging. The idea with the open protocol is that any app can be develoepd to support it and will be compatible. Challenge we run into with e-mail is that if instant chat is supposed to include presence indications, voice/video, etc in realtime it going to fall short. E-mail has a much lower priority for QoS when it comes to networking and comms so I’m not sure I can see it being adopted for instant messaging across all platforms. The concept is very good though based on an open protocol and standards, but it’s not the protocol taht was designed or optimised for instant messaging. I think that is why e-mail was not listed with those othe protocols.

For something that is not part of messaging like conferences, WebRTC is being implemented.

Anyways, I only know SIP which uses same protocol for both messaging and conferences and it is not true at all because SIMPLE is not SIP itself.

GadgeteerZA
creator
12M

Yes they can work together, but WebRTC is mainly used in Jitsi and others for streaming video and audio. I think the shortcoming may be lack of presence, or chatrooms or something in the protocol?

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