Around the world, a handful of visionaries are plotting an alternative online future. Is it really possible to remake the internet in a way that’s egalitarian, decentralised and free of snooping?
The office planner on the wall features two reminders: “Technosocialism” and “Indienet institute”. A huge husky named Oskar lies near the door, while the two people who live and work here – a plain apartment block on the west side of Malmö, Sweden – go about their daily business.
Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag moved here from Brighton in 2015. Balkan has Turkish and French citizenship, and says their decision was sparked by two things: increasing concerns about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU, and the Conservative government’s Investigatory Powers Act, otherwise known as the snoopers’ charter, some of which was declared unlawful this week by the court of appeal. The legislation cut straight to the heart of what now defines the couple’s public lives: the mesh of corporate and government surveillance surrounding the internet, and how to do something about it.