Free Software Pioneer Denounces “Security-Industrial Complex” and Portable Phones as “Stalin’s Dream”
On Wednesday, Richard Stallman was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. He is founder of the Free Software Foundation and has pioneered the notion of copyleft.
He said today: “It is said that ‘knowledge is power.’ Internet corporations took this maxim to heart, and set out to know as much as possible about each of us. Then the U.S. and other governments began massively collecting personal information from these companies, and in other ways too. That’s how they hope to have power over us. Digital technology turns out to mean building a giant digital dossier about each person. This might be OK if we had a government we could trust implicitly to respect human rights, one that would never try to stretch its power. What we have, under Bush and Obama, is a security-industrial complex that systematically crosses legal limits, egged on by corporations that will make more money through putting together more extensive dossiers, and saying they are doing this to ‘keep us safe’ from real but minor threats.
“It used to be that the threat to people’s freedom from computers was that they used programs that the users don’t control — nonfree programs, that is. The free software movement aims to provide free/libre replacements for nonfree programs. Free software is software that respects the users’ freedom and community. A program that isn’t free gives its owner unjust power over its users. Often it is designed to spy on them, restrict them, or even abuse them. (See ‘Proprietary Surveillance,’ DefectiveByDesign.org and ‘Proprietary Sabotage.’) With free software, the users can fix the program so it doesn’t spy, restrict, or mistreat.
“But the threats have multiplied. For years I’ve called portable phones ‘Stalin’s dream’ because of their surveillance capabilities. (Their movements are tracked, and they can be converted remotely into listening devices that transmit your conversations all the time, even when you try to shut them off.) For years I’ve warned that it is a mistake to entrust personal data to web sites, or even identify yourself to them. For years I’ve paid cash rather than use my credit card.
Read the rest here: Institute for Public Accuracy