Felix Rambles

Another step to taking back control

Privilege and websites

25 June 2020 — Felix Ple┼čoianu

Let's make one thing clear: if you can afford to have even one internet domain to your name, let alone more, you're incredibly privileged. You have the money to pay for it, your country isn't subject to some embargo, and no government has decided to silence you.

Yet.

Because you don't own any domain names; not ever. You rent them, from an organization that answers to another and so on. The chain doesn't just have some weak links, it's made of them. Never mind simply losing interest -- or for that matter your job. We're always one cease-and-desist letter away from having our voice taken away, whether it's due to the greed of a corporation or a dictator's whims.

Internet domain names aren't any more proof of identity than a good old e-mail address, never mind phone numbers.

Worse, expecting everyone to have a (sub)domain name all to themselves is:

  • making assumptions about their abilities and what they have access to;
  • ignoring the entire point of URLs being unique as a whole;
  • casting aside tilde servers, the oldest form of online social network, and one that's been coming back into fashion.

Note, I'm not saying we should all move to the Dat protocol (let alone Tor; that's one giant honeypot). We'll have to do something of the sort sooner or later, but it's not a real option yet.

But would this website represent me any less if one day it started being served from mushpark.com/~felix/ instead?

That's like saying I become a different person for moving to another town. Sure, my friends might have some trouble finding me again if I don't reach out first, but you know... I'd still have the same face.

Sure, someone could also copy my site then use it to defame me. Newsflash: that's been possible ever since the web had more than one server online.

Gee, I wonder how people used to solve this problem before affluent techies could afford to splurge on vanity domains. Oh wait, it's called reputation: a problem as old as human society itself, and still not fully solved even in real life.

That's still where you want to look for even partial solutions, dear techie.

Tags: website, politics

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