2018 is over and 2019 starts. This is a great opportunity to look back, reflect and to try to look into the future. I predict that 2019 will be a very good year for privacy, open source and decentralized cloud software. Maybe even the mainstream breakthrough of federated and decentralized internet services!
Let me explain why:
The mainstream opinion about centralized services started to change in 2018 and I think this trend will continue in 2019. More and more people see the issue with large, centralized data silos that control more and more of our private lives, democratic processes and society as a whole. Some examples from 2018 where bad news hit the press include:
- The never ending list of Facebook scandals: Wired
- Twitter election meddling: BostonGlobe
- Amazon Alexa is listening to private conversations and is leaking the data: Heise and BusinessInsider
- Dropbox is leaking private date: TechTarget
- Google Plus is insecure and will shut down: CNBC
This year, Europe introduced the GDPR to regulate the collection of private data. I believe it is a good start and think we ultimately we need rules as described in the User Data Manifesto
I expected that people in the US and Asia wouldn’t take the GDPR seriously and make fun of Europeans tendency to ‘over-regulate’. So I was surprised to see that the GDPR was widely praised as a step into the right direction. People in Asia and US are already asking for similar regulations in their markets, California has already announced its own variant of the GDPR with the California Consumer Privacy Act.
This clearly shows that the world is changing. People realize more and more that extensive centralized data collection is a problem. This is an opportunity for open source and decentralized and federated alternatives to enter the mainstream.
At Nextcloud we have become widely recognized as one of the major alternatives. And this year was big for us, with three big releases introducing new technologies the world needs going forward. Let me name just a few:
- End-to-end Encryption. In 2018 Nextcloud launched support for full end 2 end encrypted file sync and share.
- Nextcloud Talk. Beginning of 2018 we launched Nextcloud Talk as a fully integrated self hosted, open source and decentralized chat and audio/video call solution
- Just a few weeks ago we launched Social with ActivityPub support to integrated with Mastodon and other projects of the Fediverse.
- Simple Signup. In summer we launched the Simple Signup feature to make it possible for new users to sign up at one of the Nextcloud providers directly from the Mobile and Desktop apps.
- We launched our unique Video Verification feature to become the most secure file share platform.
- In summer we announced the initiative to ship Nextcloud preinstalled on millions of NEC routers, something that will take off in 2019, you might have seen the prototype devices on social media.
- This fall we launched the Nextcloud Include program with funding from the Reinhard von König Preis for innovation. I’m happy we run this project together with my old friends from KDE.
In 2018 I traveled to more events and countries than ever before. It’s great to see how the Nextcloud community is growing all over the globe. On the company and business side we also have good news. The Nextcloud company is growing nicely in all areas. There will be separate news about this soon.
Of course it’s the mission of Nextcloud to not do everything alone. This is why we launched a lot of integration projects in 2018. For example with Rocket.Chat, Moodle, StorJ, Mastodon and others. I’m really happy to see that other open source and decentralization projects do as well as Nextcloud.
I think 2019 could be the year where open source, federated and self-hosted technology hits mainstream, taking on the proprietary, centralized data silos keeping people’s personal information hostage. Society becoming more critical about data collection will fuel this development.
If you want to make a difference then join Nextcloud or one of the other project that develop open source decentralized and federated solutions. I think 2019 is the year were we can win the internet back!