AGP discussion: Migrating off Alphabet Inc. Services

Discussion thread for AGP:

As far as I know the Aragon Association makes a very light use of Alphabet Inc. services, and therefore I don’t think it’d be crazy for the Association to stop using them altogether. The only constrain could be Google Drive, which is extensively used (even if you don’t, others do and it requires a Google account) so that could be tricky.

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I think the biggest issue is migrating off of Google Cloud (Google Apps is not that big of an issue IMO), something I completely agree with.

For some context, due to staffing needs and prioritization the new infrastructure that was launched with 0.6 had to be quickly deployed to Google Cloud in order for it not to delay the release. The stack doesn’t use any proprietary software (if we were on AWS it would be another story) other than GCloud DNS, and the kubernetes stack could be migrated away from GCloud in less than one man-week.

It is just a matter of prioritization and resource allocation, but I 100% agree on performing the migration.


Hm, yeah I see what you mean. Perhaps team members could use a personal (free) Google account for this? Or try to get collaborators to use non-Google Drive services instead? I just don’t want the Aragon project to give Alphabet/Google any more money.

I think that could certainly work

I’m very conflicted by this, as it’s written. Perhaps I’ve just interpreted it harshly.

Being very broad, I think the proposal is unrealistic: at this point, I don’t really think you can use the internet very well without some bit of Google being involved (DNS, Google Analytics, other apps using Google Cloud, etc.). It could also be interpreted to mean avoiding Chrome and Android, which make up a staggering amount of Internet traffic, as well as Alphabet Inc-related investments, of which there are many.

The divide between personal and organizational accounts is fairly moot in my eyes; at the end of the day we individuals make up the internet, not the organizations, and if we choose to use surveillance-endorsing products it makes no difference if the organizations aren’t supposed to (am I still going to watch a YouTube video at some point in my life if this passes? Probably).

As much as we’d like to, unfortunately it’s usually impossible to put out a forest fire without being surrounded by fire.

I have a few thoughts on how to make this more well-scoped and realistic:

  • Clarification on “operated by”, rather than “owned” (if we conclude “ownership” includes partial ownership, i.e. share-holding)
  • No direct usage of Alphabet Inc. operated services that require payment up front (compared to hidden costs of data, privacy, etc.), which should cover things like organizational Google Apps, Google Cloud, Adwords, etc. Note that purchasing an Alphabet-device (Pixel, Chromebook, Chromecast) as equipment should likely also be avoided.
  • Non-public sensitive information must be moved away from Alphabet Inc-operated services (e.g. Google Apps)
  • Perhaps less outreach and engagement through Alphabet Inc. channels, such as speaking at meetups organized by Google, etc.
  • General suggestion by the Association to strongly consider alternatives and competitors whenever possible

While I agree with the core message here, I don’t think it is realistic right now, as one could in the same vein propose the same for Aragon using GitHub, as it is now owned by Microsoft, another company known to have been participating in surveillance programs (namely PRISM). You could probably even propose the same thing for loads of services that Aragon or any other project uses, such as Twitter being their official feed and so on.

Unfortunately, as it is now, being on the Internet means you are surveilled most of the time.There is many things one can do personally to mitigate surveillance risks, and Aragon does not actively prevent one from doing so.

Furthermore, it is even possible to run Aragon completely without using Aragon-funded infrastructure by running an IPFS node and an Ethereum node. No end user is forced to use the Alphabet Inc. Services, and no special end user data is collected or stored on these services anyway.

This is a case where it is prudent to “pick your battles”, I think most people in this community would be aligned with the idea that we should move away from centralized services, particularly those from powerful surveillance capitalist organizations.

However, the fact is the tools are well suited to how we are using them, there is imo little risk of anything negative happening to the project from continued use of these services, and the amount of time, money, effort, attention required to transition to something else could be more productively spent on focused on the core goals of the project.


Thank you for your comments. I have adjusted the proposal to clarify its intentions based on some of the feedback.

Not using Alphabet is completely possible. Indeed, it is necessary if we want to move to a world without massive surveillance companies like theirs. We might not be perfect and able to completely tear away from the centralized web at once, but we can start with the worst offenders and move forward from there. Alphabet is by far the worst just in terms of size and impact.

Aragon has already led by example moving off Slack and Medium. Let’s take another step to lead by example, show people that we mean what we say and will endure the struggle to remove power and influence from large centralized surveillance companies like Alphabet.

Vote to take Aragon off Alphabet.