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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The 4 freedoms are not bad per se, but when strictly enforced, they can not exist in a world that gives users the freedom to use software who's license does not specifically adhere to these concepts. Hence, not real freedom.

It's the "when strictly enforced" part there that's the problem. The four freedoms are the FSF and Stallman's test for IF software is free. Where do you get the impression that FSF says you have to or even should user ONLY free software? RMS makes this requirement FOR HIMSELF but can you link to an FSF page that says you should ONLY use free software?

I think that the government should demand only free software solutions for their needs.

Why should the software itself be free (as in speech), so long as it is able to output non-proprietary formats? For example, would it be considered 'immoral' to use a proprietary word processor that could save documents in ODF format? [/q]

I would not say immoral but I would agree that MOST (almost all?) government software should be FLOSS. I can think of several reasons for this:

1. Security - being sure that government held confidential data stays where it should (no phone home code or spyware/malware in the programs). Exceedingly important when thinking about voting software. medical, financial, etc records. The goal should be that ANY program that touches this data should be trusted hence open to review.

2. Cost (for large governments anyway) - the licensing cost of developing most common software (office, tax, etc) for an entity the size of the U.S. most likely would pay for all the work that would go into it. You would also be able to ensure that all your citizens would freely have access to your data should you want to provide it (since you could provide the software to them freely). Donating and cooperating with existing FLOSS projects reduces the cost even more making this simply smart.

3. Expandability - as the producer (or contributor) of the software you will have the ability to add needed or important features.

4. Reduced Corruption - the more the government BUYS the greater tendency for corruption. If you don't buy it there's no company to lobby you to buy more of it. I think Haliburton, Microsoft, the plethora of defense contractor and now the security contractors (full body scans, anyone?) make my case rather clear on this one.

5. Accountability - providing the source code to your citizenry is proof of what you have used the funds for. If the budget for software creation is large and little is produced there should be questions as to why there was so little productivity. Additionally, citizen watchdog groups can inspect the code to ensure that government is processing and protecting the data properly (no rounding errors in taxes, no funny code in voting machines, etc).

These are just a few reasons off the top of my head.

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