After WhatsApp updated its privacy terms and millions of users got angry, people started to move from it to Signal and Telegram. It even caused some problems for Telegram and Signal servers as they didn’t expect that much users.
Signal is known for its encryption and privacy and I think they are doing a very good job but I don’t trust them. The thing against Signal is that it’s not really free software. Signal has a code/repository that is published with a free (as in freedom) license but the app itself is not libre.
Signal’s app is not on F-Droid. The only way to get Signal’s app is to download it using Google Play Store. When many people complained, they published an APK which is really really hard to find and is still using Google Play Service, if it’s available on your phone.
Signal doesn’t let you connect to Signal using the app you created yourself. Even if you compile their exact source code, it will only be active at most for 90 days.
But what I use instead of Signal and Telegram? I use Matrix and XMPP. They are decentralized messengers and truly free (as in freedom). With Matrix and XMPP, I have true liberty over my computing and messaging. I can run my own server if I don’t trust others and I can make sure encryption works the way I want.
I can compile/build my own app and know for sure that the app works as it is expected. Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal which have centralized servers, Matrix and XMPP are decentralized and there’s no main server. I know for sure what’s happening on the server (as I can run my own) and I’m sure the app communicates with server exactly how it says so or I want it.
Access to what the company called “our private Chrome APIs” will be blocked starting March 15. Google plans to revoke others’ Chromium-based browsers’ access to a long list of APIs that power such popular services as bookmark and settings synchronization.
“We discovered that some third-party Chromium-based browsers were able to integrate Google features, such as Chrome Sync and Click to Call, that are only intended for Google’s use,” Jochen Eisinger, Chrome engineering director, wrote in a Jan. 15 post to a company blog.
This is good news. I see many people are considering to move to Firefox and Firefox-based browsers which are by and for the people. What Google does with Chromium and Chrome is to force its own preferences as web standards.
However, Firefox is backed by not-for-profit Mozilla and has a mission to bring back the web to people.
I personally use GNU IceCat as my main browser. It’s free software and focuses on privacy and freedom. No need to mention that IceCat is based on Firefox.
The GitHub Blog published a note about how GitHub is now fully available in Iran. This is a very good step, and a nice thing. It should be appreciated. However, that doesn’t change the fact that GitHub can still ban people based on nationality or place they live.
GitHub got a license from the U.S. government to offer GitHub to developers in Iran. This means that OFAC can revoke this license too, at anytime it wants for whatever reason they decide.
Using GitHub, and also GitLab dot com, is a mistake. They blindly obey the authority and will never take side with people. What they value is money, which has no problem in it except for making them side with power instead of people.
Unlike GitHub and GitLab dot com, there are services that are here to provide to people, not power. I can’t say they won’t obey the law if they have to but at least they will fight for people before obeying an authority without question.
Services like Codeberg and Framagit are created with a libre program which let you know host it yourself or change the way they work. They respect people and try to side with you, instead of authority.
I really believe this license will be revoked in future and many people will get hurt again. I hope I’m wrong though.
I’m a fan of decentralized networks. I use Mastodon instead of Twitter, I use Pixelfed instead of Instagram, and I use IRC and XMPP instead of Whatsapp. I’m very well satisfied with my experience. I don’t feel lack of any social network or messaging system.
I respect myself, therefore I don’t use proprietary apps and networks. If someone needs to contact me or have a digital social relationship with me, then that person can start a respectful relationship by using free software and privacy-minded networks.
However, I should mention that not all of Fediverse or decentralized services/products are good. For example, some programs/networks don’t have a good user experience.
With rising concern about privacy violations and security issues of computer technology giants like Big Tech, companies and products are now advertising for themselves using the term end-to-end encryption to mislead users.
I’ve always said that end-to-end encryption only works if you’re in control of the encryption secret/public keys, not the product/company. Sadly, many fall into the false claims of tech giants about privacy.
This week, Texas Attorney General filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Google in which it explains that Google has accesses encrypted messages sent and received by WhatsApp, The Register has reported.
End-to-end encryption supposed to eliminate the ability of middle-man or messaging servers/companies to read the message. Now, if we don’t control our encryption keys and rely on keys that are controlled by the company (messenger provider), there’s no difference with no encryption at all.
Messengers like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google stuff, etc. are not safe, even with encryption because the company is controlling the keys, thus can read and share our messages, encrypted or not.
I always have suggested libre decentralized messaging software like Matrix and XMPP which can be self-hosted and secured with true end-to-end encryption.
Various Google products, including Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Calendar are facing global outage. Any service that requires a Google Account to enable features is currently down.
This is a good reason and example to get away from Google and move to a decentralized libre service such as Nextcloud. Using a libre decentralized platform prevents this kind of outages.
A decentralized service can be down too but unlike Google stuff (and similar products), if an instance goes down, only people on that instance will be affected, not the whole network.
For example, more than 2 billion people use G Suite, which includes Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, Hangouts, etc. and with this outage, all of them are unable to use these products.
But a decentralized service doesn’t affect 2 billion people at once. People use different instances on different servers and many of them can continue using their services.
And also, a decentralized libre service gives you ability to choose the server you want to run the service on, along with the option to use instances running by other people. This way, you can make sure the server won’t surprise you or put you in trouble.
Move to decentralized libre services so you don’t face outages and responsibilities like this again.
This Friday, December 04, is International Day Against DRM (IDAD). I’ve talked about DRM before and explained how it’s a violation of our rights over freedom, computing, and privacy.
Sadly, there are thousands (if not millions) of products and devices that impose DRM on us and there’s not much we can do about it. However, we’re not defenseless.
Our biggest weapon, which all those products and companies are fearful of, is not using them. By cancelling our subscriptions and not buying/using their products, we defend ourselves, empower people against DRM companies, and tell them that we don’t let them violate our rights.
As a matter of fact, almost all of those companies are highly dependent on people, so we ourselves are our biggest weapon and shot against them.
Many, like Netflix, our getting paid by our money and data but they don’t deserve it. When we pay for something, and purchase it, we should be the owner of that copy/distribution and have full control over it; that is what DRM companies like Netflix are afraid of.
This year, the Free Software Foundation, the one behind the Defective by Design campaign, is focusing on Netflix.
Please join us on defending our rights and fighting Digital Restriction Managements. This is a fight for our future, not only about computers, but about everything.
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 free software 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 free software communities.
While ago, The Verge has reported that Zoom has canceled a webinar due to be held at San Francisco State University this Wednesday featuring Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who took part in two plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970. YouTube and Facebook also intervened to stop the talk.
The meeting was canceled under the pressure of Israeli and Jewish lobby groups including Lawfare Project. Sadly, they are powerful enough to affect free speech in a company based in United States, a country which refer to itself as land of freedom and (ridiculously) the greatest democracy in world.
Now, after that happened, some activists decided to gather and discuss “censorship by Zoom” and in a completely predictable event, this meeting was also canceled by Zoom.
I’m not shocked at all. No matter where you are or who you are, if you threaten these companies’ benefits, they will do anything to stop you and that includes violating your basic human rights.
I’m disappointed in the event organizers who decided to use Zoom for this gathering when they undoubtedly knew Zoom censors everything that doesn’t meet its interests.
There is a great free software to use instead of Zoom named Jitsi which respects humans and is controlled by individuals who host events not a corporation.