Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 2nd Jan 2012 19:12 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.
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We should be both respectful but firm in our disagreement, because I believe in this case, we do hold the higher moral ground.

I don't see how so. When it comes to Stallman, he does not care at all about freedom; he only cares about forcing people to use software that has a certain license attached to it. Basically, he came up with his own version of freedom (aka 'The 4 Freedoms'), decided that was good enough for everybody, and then claims moral superiority over anyone who would dare to disagree.

But freedom is more than just about free (as in speech) software. It's just like conservatives who are always preaching about freedom; freedom is fine and good, until it involves something they don't agree with, such as marrying somebody of the same sex. And suddenly, freedom is just not good enough anymore. Similarly, part of having real freedom with software is the freedom to use proprietary software if one wishes, and I know that doesn't sit well with some people. You want to use FLOSS software exclusively? Great. My use of proprietary software does not impede on your right/ability to use open source software, except where overly broad software patents are involved. But, IMO, that is a separate problem and not specifically related to what we're talking about here. Software patents are a result of proprietary software advocates doing the same thing that FLOSS advocates are trying to do; using the system in order to try and force people into a certain paradigm.

I'm pretty sure if it were up to free software pundits, there would probably be laws passed that prohibit the use of proprietary software. Does proprietary software come with its own potential pitfalls and negative consequences? Sure, but what sort of freedoms do not? For example, in the US, you have the freedom to eat fast food until you keel over and die from heart disease, drink yourself into a coma, gamble all of your money away, etc. Basically, you have the freedom to destroy yourself. But none of these freedoms will f**k you up, as long as you're careful and do not abuse them to the degree that you can never reverse them. For example, I do use proprietary software, but I don't think I use any app that won't let me export my data into some sort of format that other apps can import. And if I do, the data is really not important enough to me to matter much. Like, I'm not sure if my grocery list app on Android supports exporting of its data, but it would be fairly trivial to recreate it in something else, so it doesn't really matter.

In regard to privacy, this is much like the PIRACY debate currently going on. Entities like the content industry are frantically trying to get laws passed in order to curb piracy... basically, trying to find a technological solution to prevent people from copying things that can be copied an infinite amount of times for $0, in which there simply is no technological solution for this, unless you want to break the entire infrastructure of the internet. And privacy is really the same way. For example, even when I'm using a pure AOSP build of Android like Cyanogenmod, it is still possible to sync all of my contacts in the cloud, which means if I have your phone number and addres sin my contacts, and that information is synced in the cloud, it is now stored in Google's databases, and probably several times over, as other Android users do the same. So, how can you force privacy into a system where anything and everything is inter-connected, and users want the ability to share this information between devices?

Edited 2012-01-02 20:26 UTC

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