Eben Moglen Delivers “FreedomBox Turns Ten” Speech

November 19, 2019

On Saturday, November 16th, the Software Freedom Law Center co-hosted a hackathon with the FreedomBox Foundation to commemorate the upcoming ten-year anniversary of the FreedomBox project’s founding. At the hackathon, Eben Moglen delivered a speech in which he reflected on the past ten years of FreedomBox and the project’s future.

The FreedomBox project was founded on February 5th, 2010, in an influential speech by Eben Moglen titled, “Freedom in the Cloud.” In addition to inspiring the FreedomBox project, this speech is also known to have inspired the diaspora* project. In Freedom in the Cloud, Moglen presciently declared that Mark Zuckerberg “has done more harm to the human race than anybody else his age.” To this day, activists in the movement to decentralize the web continue to draw inspiration from the 2010 speech.

Eben Moglen’s most recent speech is aptly titled, “FreedomBox Turns Ten.” In it, he reflected on the original reasons for launching the FreedomBox project, what has happened since 2010, and where we must go next. While Moglen’s 2010 speech was largely a call to create something which hadn’t yet existed, his 2019 speech contains gestures to software and hardware which are already available, including the FreedomBox product sold by Olimex. Referring to the FreedomBox unit placed on top of the lectern in front of him, Moglen explained the role that FreedomBox plays in the machinery of social change:

“We need a lever and a place to stand, otherwise the whole Archimedean thing doesn’t work and we don’t change the world. So this [FreedomBox] is designed to be the fulcrum. It’s just a tool. And the abandonment of the unsafe ideas that ‘this isn’t really about me, and privacy is over’ — that’s the lever. We have to change people’s minds about that. I actually think the machinery is no more complicated than the world’s simplest machine: lever plus fulcrum plus the desire to move the earth. That’s sufficient. You only need a place to stand.”

Moglen’s 2010 speech about FreedomBox was centered on the idea that regular people can change the web through collective social action. Nearly ten years later, Moglen stressed the same idea. Though the FreedomBox project has grown and evolved since its founding, its mission to empower people to empower themselves remains the same.

Video of Eben Moglen’s “FreedomBox Turns Ten” speech is available here:

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