Garlanet is a decentralized, community-owned online-social network that offers a privacy-preserving microblogging service. The main goals of the system are:
- Self-provision: Garlanet operates using the computational resources voluntarily contributed by participants and does not depend on a service provider. Since no authority controls the system, it totally avoids censorship and guarantees the free of speech.
Besides, Garlanet provides high availability since information is replicated in different nodes.
- Privacy: Garlanet adds built-in privacy solutions based on cryptography to guarantee that only the sender and the intended receivers are able to access the information exchanged. In an open distributed environment an attacker could collect information from different sources, analyze it, and extract non-explicit sensible data about the users as their political affinities, religion, friends, daily routines, etc. This is prevented using a model that avoids linking individuals relationships as well as the statistics of a users activity.
Most popular microblogging social networks are centralized services that may change the terms and conditions of use or even shut down the service unilaterally. What is more, these companies can collect, analyze, and correlate users' data, thus generating even more information about the identity and interests of a user than that was included in his messages, which poses a critical privacy risk since such information can be compromised or revealed to interested third parties. Federated (or decentralized) social networks reduce the capacity of tracking data by allowing any participant create its own site and federate it with other sites. Most of the users will not be able to have a site running 7x24, therefore, they register in any of the sites available in the system. Consequently, they end up registering in a site not because they fully trust it but (in the best case) because it has a good reputation. These sites will have their own privacy policies that users must accept to join the system. Accordingly, privacy risks for these users are reduced compared to (previously seen) centralized approaches but are still there
Our proposal, Garlanet, has a completely different approach. We split the service into low-demand operations executed in a decentralized manner on (usually non-dedicated desktop) computers voluntarily contributed to the community by any of its participants, therefore, the user's activities cannot be tracked. In addition, private data, such as profile information, is safely stored using cryptography and revealed only to authorized people.
Many nonprofit associations may be very interested on using Garlanet because it provides the microblogging functionality for free without loosing privacy. Large ones may even be interested in deploying its own microblogging social network because, due to its self-organized and self-provided approach, only requires a minimal infrastructure (only two servers). In general, we believe that many individuals or communities will also be interested in our proposal.