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The Open-Source Group Trying To "De-Google" The Internet
Elsa Trujillo

PARIS — How can we surf the web without using Google, Amazon or Facebook? French group Framasoft, which promotes the use of open-source software, offers a way.

Under the "De-google-ify internet" initiative, the group uses decentralized software solutions to design tools that allow consumers to retake control of their data.

Members of Framasoft are strong advocates for the digital privacy of consumers. They consider it their mission to educate people about internet freedom.

"Consumers are sometimes reluctant to use alternative software instead of Google, Amazon and Facebook because they fear they might lose a certain comfort level in terms of efficiency or embedding functionalities," says Pouhiou, a member of Framasoft.

"And yet, they would have a lot to gain especially when it comes to independence," he says. "When we register something in our schedule like a medical appointment, the schedule of our children's nursery or the planning of a professional project, it's not harmless. The words "personal data" have this really cold resonance but they actually encompass our digital privacy."

The "De-google-ify internet" initiative, which was launched two years ago, has so far offered about 20 tools that allow you to bypass centralized web services. Framasoft added new solutions to its offerings since the start of October. Framalistes, for instance, sees itself as an alternative to Google Groups that lets users choose his or her subscription options, access archives and manage lists.

Framanotes can be used as an alternative to Evernote — a service to create and keep notes, pictures, files and bookmarks on boards. In the same spirit, Framatalk can replace Skype for video calls, while Framaforms does the same for online surveys on Google Forms. Framagenda, similar to Google agenda, offers users more privacy when it comes to their agendas, contacts, appointments and planning.

The most difficult task for Framasoft still lies ahead. "The next big thing for us will be finding the equivalent of Gmail," Pouhiou says. "It will be the most difficult one to adapt because emails require a lot of work in terms of system administration."

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