Collateral freedom

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I noted collateral freedom, and I noted, “it seems to run counter to most of the projects I am interested in at the moment, specifically, decentralization and federation, which means collateral freedom doesn’t apply, or at least isn’t as effective.”

This concept seems like a useful mental model, but also depends on the concept of “too big to fail”, which doesn’t feel right, as the table is set at the moment (meaning, the only people who can obtain such a status are already running the game.

The space I think about right now is based on Mastodon, but collateral freedom doesn’t apply, because we are split across jurisdictions, and any single node can be taken out relatively easily by a government player (or someone using litigation, and therefore invoking a gov. player).

Collateral freedom doesn’t seem to apply to any freedom networks I can think of. It seems to be a tool used by corporate silos to gain leverage on public agencies… am I just not appreciating this because I am in the US? Is this useful in other countries?

It makes me wonder what advantage F-Droid feels it has, because I am pretty sure that Fairphone aside, Google and probably Samsung and a few other manufacturers could take out F-Droid if it even made a blip on their radars. I say that as someone that only installs apps via F-Droid.

So what does collateral freedom mean for F-Droid?


I’ve not dug deeply into collateral freedom though from what I’ve skimmed it’s probably more descriptive than prescriptive – some speech can be gotten away with or hidden on services that are important to business, but it’s not clear to me there’s much headroom there. China (or wherever, but it seems to be the topic of the main paper) is happy to do both targeted and broad interventions to get stuff and people removed that they don’t like. Cost of doing businessgoverning, so to speak.

I think there’s something symmetric with federated services – probably speech can be more free because they are insignificant. They could easily be cracked down on however if they became successful, and in a very granular manner – individuals running nodes are very vulnerable.

I’m not sure what you’re getting at with regard to F-Droid. It isn’t a communications channel itself. Collateral freedom isn’t really relevant. Free software doesn’t rely on samizdat distribution almost anywhere.


My skim was poor. There’s an implementation, Lantern, that uses cloud services that would be hard to block (e.g., Digital Ocean, AWS) to provide access to unfiltered sites. Interesting side note: the lead engineer previously worked on LimeWire.