Digital payment systems like PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, etc. have central computer infrastructure. Whoever controls this infrastructure has total control over individual transactions and can deny any withdrawal, payment, or donation.

A potentially corrupted state can easily abused this as a tool of power for repressing political opposition. That’s why centralized digital payment systems are not ethical and frankly a threat to democracies.

For example, The Guardian has recently reported that Belarus tells banks to seize money raised to help out protesters. Authorities in Belarus have ordered banks to seize money raised in small donations and paid out as compensation to victims of a police crackdown on protesters.

The funds were transferred to people who were beaten or fined after taking part in ongoing demonstrations against the regime of the dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

The BY_help fund, set up by the London-based Belarusian Andrei Leonchik, raised £2m within a few days of putting out the call in August, mostly from small donations from Belarusian citizens keen to show solidarity.

But authorities have now ordered banks to freeze any funds transferred by Leonchik, as well as opening a criminal case against him, according to leaked documents. One letter addressed to several Belarusian banks said Leonchik, together with the opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was collecting money “to support protest actions in Belarus” with the aim of toppling the government, and ordered them to freeze funds.

This is just an exhibition of how an abuser can use power against democracy. Now imagine what an abuser can do with its power in payment systems like Apple Pay or PayPal.

Imagine how United States’ Government can control every transaction happened in these systems in order to protect its corruption. For example, imagine the Bully had enough power to seize the money collected to be used against him. Or a Chinese power abuser forces a company to give it the money collected to help Hong Kongers fight for their rights.

Among all those years that many people invited you to boycott Black Friday, this might be the most serious one that you should listen to. Black Friday is tempting, I can’t lie. I really would like to buy a thing for less than half of its usual price but it’s affecting more than an individual.

Black Friday usually only takes effect on online shops like the evil Amazon and/or some big chain stores around the U.S. or some other countries and this just helps those stores to grow and get more powerful thus makes people have less power to change the way they behave.

This year, the case is more special than other years. With the pandemic and everything going on, the economy of many countries are collapsing and many shops are suffering from it.

Also, local stores suffer a lot. Since the pandemic began, close to 100,000 businesses have permanently closed. Small businesses ― defined as private companies with fewer than 500 employees ― have especially struggled to survive this year due to less cash flow and smaller operating margins.

This is not just during the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, many local stores were suffering from Black Friday because many people get attracted to those big (usually chain) stores and never shop from local stores again.

Local businesses are struggling to survive and Black Friday is not good news for them.

Black Friday also produces tons of waste. Aside from the physical and financial toll that Black Friday has on shoppers, there are also environmental consequences.

The promise to deliver items in just a couple of days (looking at you, Amazon Prime) requires putting thousands more trucks and ships in service, adding to the pollution that’s already in our air and water. There’s also the ridiculous amount of packaging involved, which floods recycling centers and ends up in landfills.

That’s not to mention how so much of the crap that’s purchased during the Black Friday shopping frenzy ends up in the hands of people who don’t even want it. In fact, 61% percent of Americans say they received at least one unwanted gift over the holidays, according to a 2019 survey by Finder.com, a consumer savings site. That equates to $15.2 billion spent on unwanted gifts. Clothing and accessories make up the most gifted but unwanted items, fueling the carbon-intensive fast-fashion industry that contributes to overflowing landfills.

After removing the popular tool for claims of copyright infringement, GitHub has done a 180-degree turn on that decision. Vice has reported that GitHub reversed its decision over removing youtube-dl and reinstated it.

Following a counter-notice from EFF, and severe criticism and threats from software communities (including Free Software Community), GitHub is now claiming that it stands with [free] software developers.

“We are taking a stand for developers and have reinstated the youtube-dl repo,” GitHub CEO Nat Friedman tweeted on Monday. “Section 1201 of the DMCA is broken and needs to be fixed. Developers should have the freedom to tinker. That’s how you get great tools like youtube-dl.”

“Although we did initially take the project down, we understand that just because code can be used to access copyrighted works doesn’t mean it can’t also be used to access works in non-infringing ways,” Abby Volmer, director of platform policy at GitHub, wrote in an announcement posted to GitHub that said the tool is coming back online. “We also understood that this project’s code has many legitimate purposes, including changing playback speeds for accessibility, preserving evidence in the fight for human rights, aiding journalists in fact-checking, and downloading Creative Commons-licensed or public domain videos.”

It is really funny how they are now claiming that they stand with people (and developers) while we know for a fact that Microsoft (the owner of GitHub) really doesn’t care about communities and software other than its own.

Microsoft is one of the biggest violators of software freedom and privacy of people. They are famous for calling software libre and GNU+Linux a “cancer” and we never never forget they did and still do everything they can to make all software proprietary for their own benefit.

However, someone/something’s past should not affect our judgement on its future. I hope Microsoft and GitHub learn from the past and do good in future regarding software libre communities.

Google announced that its Google Photos unlimited plan will end on 2021 June 01 and free (as in cost) users will be limited to 15 gigs.

After years of advertisements over this dis-service and after millions of people trusted Google and uploaded millions of photos on it, now Google decided to shut down the free unlimited plan and make money over users’ trust.

Please avoid using any of Google’s products. For a complete Cloud solution, you can use Nextcloud or other software-libre.

There are a lot of things wrong with Google including privacy and freedom.

I see a lot of people talking about the Bully being censored or limited. Many believe the Bully’s freedom of speech is being violated by Twitter and Facebook.

I couldn’t find any news or evidence of this happening. What i could find was a series of warnings on his tweets that warned readers that he may have said stuff that are not true or very controversial. I don’t think that is a violation of free speech.

He, eventually, said what he wanted to say and has not been oppressed. However, Twitter and Facebook have deleted posts before. This should not happen for anybody, not even the Bully.

I hate to say that what Facebook and Twitter did is not illegal. When someone joins these networks, that person agrees to their terms. Unlike libre decentralized social networks, Twitter and Facebook are centralized and monopolized.

Real freedom comes when people are in control not some giant tech corporation.

Beebom has reported that new app published by Google lets banks lock your Android device if you don’t make payments! Such a ridicule.

Spotted by the folks at XDA Developers, the Device Lock Controller app from Google lets financers of smartphones remotely lock an Android device. It uses the DeviceAdminService API in the Android system and enables banks and financiers to lock significant functionalities of your Android device if you fail to make your monthly payment.

With the device locked, users will be able to access very limited functions in their smartphones. These include emergency calls, incoming and select outgoing calls, settings, and backup and restore service.

Now, surprisingly, the “Device Lock Controller” app does not appear when you search for it on the Google Play Store and nor does it appear in the list of apps made by Google. So, XDA executives reached out to Google for clarification about this.

So, according to Google, the app was developed by them in partnership with a Kenyan carrier, Safaricom. A spokesperson from Google told XDA that the app was developed to help Safaricom with their new “Lipa Mdogo Mdogo” (Pay Bit by Bit) financing plan which lets customers get an Android Go device with monthly financing.

However, if the customer could not pay an installment after four days of its due date, Safaricom locks the device with this Google app. That’s one way of using brute force to make users pay their EMIs on time.