San Francisco Community Colocation Project - SFCCP

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Facilitated by Toya, SFCCP

San Francisco Community Colocation Project is a non-profit data center that offers secure hosting space for other non-profits at lower prices. At this workshop, Toya will discuss the importance of the community taking control of server hosting spaces, as well as how to do it. She will explain how SFCCP works, the key points that went into its design, and SFCCP policies regarding data security and internet rights. She will also introduce some of the community members, and share stories related to data/user protection. Overall, it will be a discussion about data protection and how communities can be empowered to protect their data.

Notes

These notes were taken by Sameer Siruguri. Please contact me if you have any questions -- at [MY LAST NAME] AT gmail.you know what

Attendees

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SFCCP History

Community colocation providers are important as key elements in supporting free speech on the Web, as they are better placed to understand the needs and mission of the organizations whose data they store, and will work with these organizations in responding in an appropriate manner to legal requests, for example DMCA requests in the United States, so as to balance legal compliance with the free speech and information access needs of a non profit.

The San Francisco Community Colocation Project [1] was formed as a solution to a problem posed by the demise of the California CCP. A group of 20 website or so joined together to support a collocation facility, to create a provider that would be:

  1. Cheap
  2. Progressive
  3. Defender of free speech

SFCCP has its facilities in downtown San Francisco and provides 24 hour access.

Finances

SFCCP finances its backup power, power strips, bandwidth and rack rental by charging its users on a cost basis. It accepts donations that go to:

  1. Buying more data center equipment
  2. Providing rental discounts, and
  3. Providing capital for investing in rack space expansion ahead of procuring tenants.

Maintenance is primarily left to owners. SFCCP does provide:

  1. Management tools, provided by the community to monitor usage
  2. Nagios software for alerts

A dedicated network consultant provides SFCCP with expertise on managing the data center (shaping bandwidth usage etc.)

SFCCP rents the rack space from Monkey Brain, who rents the building space. The IP block of the tenants in their rack space is owned by SFCCP, making them the recipients of DMCA type requests, so that they can deal with these in a client-friendly manner.

Problems with Commercial ISPs

Historically, commercial ISPs treat their tenants badly, making least efforts to inform them in case of DMCA take downs. Even university servers are taken down wholesale, rather than locating individual offending web applications, by university administrators who don't understand Web technologies and architectures (An example of action taken at a Brazilian university was cited.)

SFCCP works closely with EFF. They recommend individual law firms that help with smaller cases on a pro bono basis.

Advice For Community Colocation Provider Wannabes

For people who want to start their own community colocation projects, SFCCP recommends:

  1. Connecting with lawyers who support human rights issues to be better able to respond to DMCA-type requests.
  2. Providing adequate tracking measures to quickly identify offending applications and tenants.
  3. Improving bandwidth usage practices among tenants by providing a bandwidth cost ceiling that tenants can subscribe to, cutting off bandwidth usage beyond the cost ceiling. Additionally, providing tenants an option to buy more bandwidth opportunistically is also helpful.

The experience at TOR (represented at the session) is that:

  1. If you know enough people, you can always get hosting and bandwidth for free (Use unused cycles and Mbits from university and corporate computers.)
  2. Distribute communications amongst multiple machines to avoid systems being completely commandeered by law enforcement applications or seizures attempting to comb through a particular system looking for criminal activity.

Outreach

SFCCP has reached out (Bay Area) Linux User Groups to educate them on managing colocation centers.

Obtaining Equipment

Connections are vital: even if corporations cannot donate equipment directly because of bureaucracy and red tape restrictions, they can let you know when the almost-unused equipment is going to be in the dumpster and where!

Future Plans

SFCCP plans to expand beyond its grass roots organizing but currently it's focused on building a community of tenants and developers.