During the reign of Nicolae Ceauşescu a sample of every keystroke from every typewriter in the country was kept by the Romanian state. Should any subversive literature appear, the typeface on the offending documented would be matched against the sample archives and, presumably, the owner of the typewriter would most definitely not be looking forward to a nice stay in a lovely Black Sea holiday resort. After the fall of the regime, this anecdote was rolled out by western politicians and news agencies as an example of why totalitarian regimes were beyond the pale. My own post-Ceauşescu-execution story has slightly more levity: upon watching the gruesome scenes of the ex-president succumbing to summary rough justice, the act struck my girlfriend’s cousin particularly hard; not in its severity but in its timing, “aw, not on Christmas Day!” Compare and contrast with just over twenty years later: all non-US citizens are essentially suspects and are fair game to have their privacy invaded by a foreign secret police apparatus with a comprehensiveness that Nicolae Ceauşescu could only have dreamed of. It would seem logical to moves one’s data to a jurisdiction that at least offers the pretence of caring about individuals’ rights and freedoms. Unfortunately, for a cheapskate such as myself, this means having to put my money where my mouth is and actually pay for a service that won’t commoditise my privacy.
If you don’t like your company, change your company
Having decided that I’d like to migrate my data out of GMail, what are the alternatives?
GMail alternatives! Thousands of ’em.
Well, there’s not a whole heap of dedicated non-US hosted email alternatives to GMail; I’ve alredy written about 5 email providers that value privacy more than Gmail, of these Switzerland-based Neomailbox, Sweden-based Countermail and MyKolab, based in Switzerland, were my leading contenders. Although Canada-based HushMail is non-US, Five Eyes almost certainly precludes this from being a truly privacy-respecting alternative.
I also wanted to have my calendars, tasks and contacts hosted too, so I went with MyKolab, which offers a hosted version of Kolab Groupware Server and, as an added bonus, Kolab contributes back to the the open source community. To wit I shall document migrating a domain’s email, contacts and calendars from Google Apps to MyKolab. In migrating to MyKolab I also looked at de-Apple-ing my data too. Therefore I shall be switching off iCloud on my iPhone and iPad (and in the process, run the risk of losing my FIFA backups). Yes, I recognise that I should really ditch all my proprietary software and go fully open source but I’m not ready to go cold turkey just yet.
Setting up a MyKolab account
The MyKolab support pages are fairly comprehensive and the sign up pages are intuitive so there’s no need to repeat information regarding opening an account. I did have to contact support to set up a domain alias in addition to the primary domain and to get hold of the SPF record for my DNS entries but this was done pretty quickly. In the next article I’ll start the documentation of the actual migration process.