Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
The idea of integrating online services, especially the sort that are (poorly, IMHO) referred to as "cloud computing", is met with resistance by some. The reasons they offer are generally compelling, namely they are concerned about a loss in Freedom. Here we have spent all these years building freedom into our software and along come these online services as an end-run around that, they say.
I actually agree with them on that point: most online services today are not freedom enhancers but freedom eroders. This was equally true of the overwhelming majority of software produced in the 80s and 90s and even much of it that is produced today. Some who have seen the doors close on certain business models framed around proprietary software have tried to dodge this by creating online services instead. Still others have seen the potential of online services and in their excitement and hurry have not considered the implications to the rights and freedoms of those who will use and perhaps even come to rely on their service.
I do believe that there is answer for this, however: Freedom Services. Just as with Free software and its commitments to use, modification and redistribution we need a set of commitments for online services to meet. Then we need to create those services and get people using them.
For the last couple of years, I've been rolling around in my head the question of what those commitments would look like. As we work on exposing online services in our Free software products more and more this becomes a rather more pressing question. Here are my thoughts as they currently stand on what those commitments should be for a service to be considered "Free as in Freedom":