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Mailpod is a community run email service
It was set up by FSFE Fellows, and provides private, 100% Free Software communication services with no single point of failure.
The first Mailpod service operates in Manchester, and servers currently reside in Arcspace community server.
Mailpod team meetings take place semi-regularly, and provide an opportunity for skill-sharing of all levels.
Please join the Manchester Fellowship group mailing list to talk to the Mailpod team. We invite you to ask us questions, contribute ideas, come to Mailpod meetings, and of course to use our secure Mail hosting services.
Manchester community hosting project: 'mailpod.org'
Finding a little privacy
Privacy is important. It's also increasingly hard to come by, especially if you communicate using computers or mobile phones. Everyone these days has accounts with email, instant messaging, and social networking websites. And lots of them are free of charge to use - brilliant, we're all communicating!
The trouble is that providing these services costs companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft money. They make a profit by selling information about the services you use to other companies, and by using them internally to sell other products to you directly. Google just changed its privacy policies to allow sharing of user data between all 71 of its different companies and services. This information is also sold to the government - the USA is a major buyer, for example.
Aside from selling your details, these big providers have big business interests, and big legal responsibilities, and customer privacy is always the last priority. This isn't their fault - all the laws that allow governments to access your information apply to every company trading in that jurisdiction. It doesn't matter how ethical or privacy conscious a company is, a court can force Hotmail to provide all your personal messages going back years, and they don't need to tell you that they've done it.
Clicking a link that goes to website that infringes copyright, transferring legal files using a system that others use illegally, having sent messages to somebody else who gets arrested, or simply being seen or tracked in the wrong place at the wrong time can all provide sufficient grounds for your data to be shared en masse with law enforcement. And not just law enforcement in your own country, or even your own continent - wherever your service provider is accessible or locates servers they are subject to local law. Do you trust Syrian privacy laws? Do you know what they are? If you use the web services of a company like Google, then perhaps you should look into them!
A way out
People in Manchester are trying to provide an alternative to entrusting our privacy to these popular but untrustworthy services. Technical solutions and alternatives to privacy problems have been around for a long time. But they're not necessarily easy enough to find or use to provide a real solution for non- technical people.
Specifically, we're setting up a community owned and run mail hosting service in Manchester. The project is called mailpod.org.
- It's set up for privacy, from the ground up. - We encrypt all information we store so that only trustworthy people can access it. - We don't store information that we don't need to, and we certainly don't sell any information. To anyone. - We don't provide lots of other services, so privacy comes first, not our need to continue trading other services, or fulfilling other unrelated obligations. - We're cooperatively run. Our infrastructure is provided by other community projects - *Arcspace* community centre in Hulme provides us with hardware, power, and Internet. - And we are small, only serve Manchester residents, and are in no rush to grow. That way we can stay focused on providing the best possible services to our users.
mailpod.org will not only provide trust and security for the communication of Mancunians. It will also foster new technical skills among project members, and increase awareness of the risks and opportunities surrounding digital freedom. It will also hopefully become a significant part of the vibrant technically creative scene in England's North West.
The project takes inspiration from fripost.org: a successful project started in 2009 in the Swedish City of Gothenburg to achieve the same ends. Mailpod.org is rooted in the Manchester members of the Free Software Foundation Europe: a well-established European non-profit organisation dedicated to freedom and equality in emerging digital societies.