Who Cares Who Delivers Our Notifications?

Android or iPhone — either Google or Apple delivers our messages — surely? You don't accept that?

Time I Learned: there are freedom-respecting phones.

People who do not want to depend on Google or have them control our devices are using android-compatible but not google-controlled phones, a.k.a. “degoogled phones”. We have been asking (ourselves) for several years if we can have google-free push notifications. Thanks to the developers of the UnifiedPush standard, the answer is now, “yes!”

But why?

You've probably heard of the Observer Effect. Partly influenced by hearing that someone is observing my blog from a social psychology angle relating to attitudes among the open source community, but also I was already thinking I should, I've decided to write more about why I write/build/care about the topics I choose. For a start I wrote a “Why Would I Care?” section for my latest post Google-Free Push Messaging for Google-Free Phones. Here, that section is published as an article on its own.

Why Would I Care?

Why would I care how my push notifications reach my phone? What difference does it make to me?

That's a good question. Inside a building that has a good heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, we don't notice the system, we just feel comfortable. With push notification delivery, part of the answer is the same: the system just does its job and our notifications come through. Whether the delivery channel is controlled by Google or by us or by someone else doesn't change that. The immediate, concrete result is the same. So it's not about wanting it to function differently; that's not why I care.

The difference it makes to me is about freedom, privacy, independence, self-agency. I am happy to have the choice to use any particular company's service, but I am not happy to be forced to use them, to have no choice, if I can't leave no matter how bad it gets. What if I don't like Google monitoring my notifications to know what I'm doing? What if I don't like to live in fear of offending them in some way and being cut off from their service and having no replacement option? What if I just don't want to condone their business model by using it, but I still want to be notified when I have messages?

Push notification delivery is one of the many invisible technical services that underpin our online communication systems. These kinds of services are implicitly considered to be part of the public infrastructure, something that we now assume is available to everyone.

When we allow ourselves to become dependent on any particular company's service, and yet do not regulate it as a public service provider, then we subject ourselves to the company's whims, priorities and values, which are different from ours. They will inevitably act against public interests.

Building publicly owned infrastructure based on open standards and freedom software is therefore essential to ensure the independent provision of services aligned with public needs and values.

I am one of the people who feels it is my place to use, promote and build non-proprietary public services, both for my own mental wellbeing and because I believe it is important for society.

It is the same reason why I support: open Ed-Tech, degoogled phones, #matrix, #fediverse, freedom software, open-source hardware, #rightToRepair.

Speaking as one of the people who prefer our devices not to be controlled by and dependent on Google:

What do we want? UnifiedPush!

When do we want it? Now!

I would love to work on any freedom tech project bringing UnifiedPush to a wider audience.

Read More about UnifiedPush

See my other posts tagged... #unifiedPush #degoogled #awesomeFOSS

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