[messaging] Matrix.. is Federation at odds with Privacy?

carlo von lynX lynX at i.know.you.are.psyced.org
Thu Apr 16 05:18:16 PDT 2015

On Fri, Mar 06, 2015 at 07:53:34PM -0800, Tony Arcieri wrote:
> Looks interesting:
> http://matrix.org/

I was asked to compare Matrix to previous efforts such
as XMPP and PSYC1/PSYC2 and in intellectual exchange
with Matthew from Matrix came up with this list of
pros and cons:


As you've discussed already the state management features
of Matrix are very advanced, making XMPP look pale in
comparison. Also PSYC1 never needed to go that far, so
if the stuff Matrix says it is doing actually works, they
have already surpassed our work in this field.

What I consider relevant to this mailing list concerning
Matrix is the way it sticks to the old server-based
federation model.  I have collected some criticism about 
federation in


and dare to assert that Federation is by definition at
odds with Privacy, in particular metadata privacy. All
of these technologies should look at ways to shift the
power away from the large surveillance honeypots called
servers towards the many harder to infiltrate private
devices and home systems.

Matthew stated that federation is necessary in order to
be backwards compatible to legacy 3rd party systems such
as XMPP, IRC, Google or Facebook. I highly doubt both
the idea that backwards compatibility is a goal worth
abandoning metadata privacy for and that a distributed
system using anonymous routing would not be able to run
a few commodity gateways to legacy infrastructure, maybe
reducing the quality of anonymity in the process - but
never as much as throwing it to the bin in the first place.

What do you guys think? Is Federation really still worth the
attention of so many brilliant minds if it won't ever deliver
what humanity needs from the Internet?

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