Free software/free culture does not accept discrimination

Update: After reading the full notice on Fedora download page, Mr. Stallman says that Fedora didn’t require users to promise anything therefor it’s not a violation of free software terms.

If you study it carefully, it does not require the downloader to promise not to do certain things. Rather, it requires the downloader to affirm awareness of these US rules, which may or may not apply.

Because of this, it does not contradict the GPL.

However, as our discussion shows, it is easy for people to misundestand and get the wrong idea about what it actually requires. They mey THINK it requires something that would violate the GPL even though it actually does not.

Richard Stallman

Original note:

Following my email message to Mr. Stallman, I had a lot of other discussions with different people but I think the best response was from Mr. Stallman himself.

He stated that the notice on Fedora download page makes it nonfree and the limitations are not compatible with GPL license.

Here’s Mr. Stallman’s email message:

[[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider ]]]
[[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies, ]]]
[[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden’s example. ]]]

> I believe parts of this notice are violations of software freedom. The notice says that Fedora complies with “Unites States Export Administration Regulations (the =E2=80=9CEAR=E2=80=9D) and it’s prohibited for use in connection with the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or rocket systems, space launch vehicles, or sounding rockets, or unmanned air vehicle systems.”

As stated, that would make Fedora nonfree. However, Fedora cannot impose such requirements on GPL-covered programs unless Fedora has the copyright.

The GNU Project encryption programs were developed outside the US and I think users get them without passing through the FS.

> The other part says “You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions.”

Isn’t it a violation of freedom 2 (The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others)?

Yes, it would be — but I don’t think anyone can enforce it on you if you are outside the US and you download Fedora. That is why I did not make a fuss about it.

> So does that mean that I, a typical user of free software, am restricted from using and distributing a software that is licensed free? Do you and free software movement accept this discrimination?

The reason for section 8 is to prevent patents from being used to make a program effectively nonfree.

If in country C some company Q threatens to make the program priorietary by suing the users using Q’s patent, that would in effect make the program proprietary.

Using section 8, the developer can say, “You can’t make my program proprietary. With section 8 I make it not available at all in country C. Give my program liberty or give it death!.”

In other words, “I’d rather destroy my program than let you turn it into your proprietary product.”

RMS's email regarding Fedora's discrimination and violation of software freedom terms.

Does free software/free culture accept discrimination?

Update: Mr. Stallman responded.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about moving from Fedora. After a lot of discussions with my friends, I finally decided to send an email message to Mr. Stallman about Fedora’s notice. I’m now waiting for Mr. Stallman’s response. Here’s my email message:

Dear Dr. Stallman,
Howdy.

Mr. Stallman, I’m a free software activist for more than 7 years now and I’ve using free software since I found out about the concept of software freedom. There’s not a single proprietary software in my computers. I even didn’t have a smart phone till a year ago. My phone currently runs LineageOS.

My operating system was Fedora untill I found out about a notice on Fedora GNU+Linux distro download page. https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/

I believe parts of this notice are violations of software freedom. The notice says that Fedora complies with “Unites States Export Administration Regulations (the “EAR”) and it’s prohibited for use in connection with the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or rocket systems, space launch vehicles, or sounding rockets, or unmanned air vehicle systems.”

Isn’t it violation of freedom 0 (The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose)?

The other part says “You may not provide Fedora software or technical information to individuals or entities located in one of these countries or otherwise subject to these restrictions.”

Isn’t it a violation of freedom 2 (The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others)?

The four freedoms doesn’t mention any country or specific software so I believe the terms of software freedom are applicable to all software no matter what country they’re based in.

A friend of mine told me that section 8 of GNU General Public License version 2 accept this discrimination.

“8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License. “

So does that mean that I, a typical user of free software, am restricted from using and distributing a software that is licensed free? Do you and free software movement accept this discrimination?

All my life, I fought for freedom. I’m an Iranian and I live in a country that basic human rights are violated and I fought for freedom and my people’s rights in the streets with my bare hands. If free software movement, FSF, and you sir, accept this discrimination, I no longer will fight for free software as it’s just a lie to me.

I know that companies and maybe projects based in U.S. should comply with USA’s laws but it’s not a good reason for discrimination like this. If free software can be restricted for some people or it can only be used by a group of people a country or a company chooses, then I believe free software movement is not what it says it is.

I remember you once said that free (as in freedom) software leads us to a free society. If this freedom is only for some people, then it’s just a lie, isn’t it?

Can you please explain to me and my friends how free software movement reacts to this?

Thanks a lot.

Ali Reza Hayati

New hackers need to focus on everything; not only computers

I know a lot of hackers. I, myself, am a hacker but being a hacker doesn’t just mean infiltrating other people’s systems (those are crackers). If you do hacks, you’re a hacker.

For example, few years ago when I was backpacking I had trouble opening a glass of pickles. What I did was to use a spoon to lower the pressure between the lid and the glass and when the compressed air was released, I opened it.

That was a hack. A simple hack to open a glass. Hacking doesn’t just mean sabotaging or entering security holes.

But what I want to talk about is not hacking itself. I want to talk about the life of hackers, specifically computer hackers. A lot of computer hackers, for example programmers, dedicate their lives to and focus on computers.

They talk about operating systems, security, privacy, codes, hardware, etc. and only a few of them really pay attention to society. Few of them talk about politics, or nature. We see less and less hackers talking about plastic problems in world.

Of course there’s people who are interested in technologies that help mother nature but there’s not a lot of them. New hackers, mostly, think that being a computer guy means leaving every other subject in life; and that’s wrong.

The hacker community talks about everything. They value life, just like other people. Being hacker doesn’t mean that you should dedicate your life to computers. Politics, nature, people, global affairs, etc. all matter.

New hackers and the hackers community need to focus on life. We don’t live in computers, we live in a world full of people and everything affects us like others.

If world runs into a global crisis, like a pandemic, we all should do what we can. We’re not robots and computers, we’re humans so we should do what humans do.

Google is helping China to censor internet

Two days ago, Palmer Luckey reported on Twitter that Google (YouTube) is deleting his comments about a Chinese propaganda.

YouTube has deleted every comment I ever made about the Wumao (五毛), an internet propaganda division of the Chinese Communist Party. Who at Google decided to censor American comments on American videos hosted in America by an American platform that is already banned in China?

Palmer Luckey

Ninja Logic, another user, also replied that Google (YouTube) also deletes entire chat if you send certain words.

YouTube will also delete the ENTIRE chat replay from a livestream if a single person types the phrase 共匪, 五毛, or any of the other blacklisted terms critical of the CCP. Might be disruptive if people typed these phrases en masse in all the popular stream chats.

Might be disruptive if people typed these phrases en masse in all the popular stream chats.

Ninja Logic on Twitter

This is internet censorship. Lots of Hong Kong people are protesting against Chinese government because of discrimination and inequality and they are dependent on these services. Hong Kong people are fighting for justice and what Google is doing is helping Chinese government suppress these protests.

YouTube is one of the platforms for sharing videos and flow of information about protests and human rights and Chinese government is violating this right with the help of Google.

This is not acceptable. America claims to be the leader of free world and yet its corporations are violating human rights every day. Something should be done about this.

What’s the Solution?

This is just another reason for us to move towards software freedom. Free software protects people from this. By using free programs, you’ll be sure that your freedom and rights are respected and if any violation happens, you can simply make your own platform with your own rules.

Free software makes sure you have essential freedoms of regarding your computing, therefore it can be used to protect your freedom when you’re fighting, like Hong Kong people fight.

If you’re in touch with any Hong Kong protester, please let them know about free software alternatives such as Peertube. It’ll help them talk freely.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and privacy (part 3)

I’ve been informed that there’s many apps in various app stores to track people during coronavirus pandemic. Right now (May 24), there’s more than 5.3 million cases of coronavirus and near 350 thousand people are dead.

I believe many of them were also tracked, not only by these apps, but by Google and Apple too. Apple and Google are helping governments to track people‘s location status. This tracking technology release is an obvious violation of privacy.

People are convinced that these technologies and tracking is helping them but disadvantages of it is far more than its benefits. While people can be informed of the dangers in various ways that are not violation of privacy, these corporations are collecting personal information, obviously not to help people but for their own benefits.

People should be able to be safe without their basic rights being violated. Privacy is one these basic rights. Nobody should be forced to destroy its privacy. No matter what are the reasons.

Don’t watch TV coverage of COVID-19!

Don’t watch TV coverage of Covid-19! (Or “social media”; the details are different.) Watching repetitive coverage of something frightening can interfere with clear thinking, even traumatize people.

TV news coverage of a crisis struggles to fill 24 hours a day with “information”, notwithstanding the fact that the actual flow of new information about the crisis is nowhere near sufficient to fill that time. What do they do? They repeat. They present tangential and minor details. They make the same points in different ways. They belabor the obvious. They repeat.

If your goal is to be informed, you don’t need to dwell on the crisis for hours every day. Not even one hour a day. Getting your news in this inefficient matter will waste a lot of time — and worse.

In addition, it will make you more and more anxious. Someone I knew in 2001, who lived in California. spent all day on Sep 11 and following days watching the TV coverage. Afterward perse was afraid to go outside, watching for terrorist airplanes. TV made it possible for per to be traumatized by events 3000 miles away.

That was an unusually strong case. Most people did not get so traumatized as that. That does not imply it did not affect them. I suspect that the TV coverage may have shifted millions of people’s perceptions, so that they overestimated the danger of terrorism while downplaying the danger of laws that take away freedom. This would have smoothed the path for careless passage of the dangerous USA PAT RIOT Act and its massive surveillance.

In any a good, general textual news site, you can read the things you really want to know about Covid-19 in 10 or 20 minutes a day. Then you won’t fall behind on your work, and you won’t be brainwashed into panic.

Keep calm and carry on!

(original post)

Government apps during pandemic

There’s daily reports about violating people’s privacy during Cornoavirus pandemic and some of these violations are happening because of proprietary apps published by governments which keep track of people. The idea of government keeping people safe by forcing them to stay home is something I can understand (yet disagree with) but governments are not trustworthy and there’s a high risk that they keep these data/profiles even after pandemic to misuse.

Continue reading Government apps during pandemic

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Privacy (part 2)

As of today, more than 4700 people are dead and a lot of countries, like United Kingdom, are not doing what they can do about it. Italy, that has most cases in Europe, is now closing all borders of the country and it quarantined about 12 cities completely.

I told you before to follow the instructions your local government gives you to stay healthy but I’ve heard that some countries and governments are not publishing software to control the virus but they’re doing it to collect people information.

I believe staying at home and following instructions from WHO is more useful than anything. Please follow those instructions that are published by experts. Wash your hands regularly and don’t leave home for anything not 10/10 emergency.

Some people are taking it not serious. Some football (soccer) players are now infected and many people who were making fun of it are now experiencing this disease.

It’s not funny. You can die. Stay in home, stay healthy.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Privacy

Some countries launched a program to track people who are in danger of getting infected with the new Coronavirus. If you’re in one of these countries, please follow the instructions provided from your local government. Your health situation is much more important. I believe there’s not enough time (now) to come up with an alternative to both track the health situation of people and being securely private.

I’m currently following the news about these programs and we may can force governments to purge data stored from citizens during this tracking program. If you have any information about this applications, please let me, EFF, and FSF know about it.

My contact information is on my contact page.
Contact EFF with details provided on eff.org/about/contact.
Free Software Foundation contact information is available on fsf.org/about/contact.