Balkan argues that Google, Facebook, and other corporations are just following their business model (a capitalist plan for profitability) by offering "free" services. But he also makes clear that by offering "free services" that you are essentially a quarry that is being mined for data to be sold to whoever. It is a con (confidence trick) to obtain data from you to be sold in the data market. They have discovered that your private information is just another commodity that is highly profitable--especially with government being one of the biggest customers.
It appears that the people at Independent Technology realize that without privacy, we do not have civil rights; and they are determined to develop "beautifully designed and easy to use free and open consumer products that empower people to own their own tools and data."
It's time for a design revolution in open technology. Companies like Google and Facebook that dominate the Internet promise us free services in exchange for the right to watch and study us; to mine and farm us. Like quarries, like livestock, we are natural resources to be exploited in a brave new digital world of corporate surveillance that threatens our most fundamental freedoms.
There are open alternatives but they are too difficult for most of us to use.
It is time to bring design thinking to open source and build beautiful, seamless open consumer products that are easy to use and which respect our fundamental freedoms.