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Wed, 03 Aug 2011 13:39:58 +0000
Module name: www
Changes by: James Turner <jturner> 11/08/03 13:39:58
philosophy : keep-control-of-your-computing.html
New article about keeping control of your computing by RMS RT #703306
RCS file: keep-control-of-your-computing.html
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+<!-- Parent-Version: 1.57 -->
+<!--#include virtual="/server/header.html" -->
+<title>Keep control of your computing, so it doesn't control you!
+- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
+<!--#include virtual="/server/banner.html" -->
+<h2>Keep control of your computing, so it doesn't control you!</h2>
+<p>by Richard Stallman<br />First published in Der Spiegel Online</p>
+<p>The World Wide Web, developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 as a system
+for publishing and viewing information, is slowly being transformed
+into a system of remote computing. It will store your data, and data
+about you, often limiting your access to it but allowing FBI access at
+any time. It will do your computing for you, but you cannot control
+what it does. It provides various tempting attractions, but you must
+<p>In the 1980s, most people did not use computers; those who did, mostly
+used personal computers or timesharing services. Both allowed you to
+install software of your choice. Both allowed you full control over
+your data, though it is not clear what access the timesharing services
+gave to the FBI. In any case, the timesharing services mostly
+faded away by the 90s.</p>
+<p>This does not mean that these users had control of their computing.
+With software, either the users control the program (free software) or
+the program controls the users (proprietary or nonfree software).
+Those users were running proprietary software because that's all there
+was at the time. The users could not change it, or even tell what it
+<p>The abusiveness of proprietary software has intensified since then;
+nowadays, it is likely to spy on you, intentionally restrict you,
+and/or have back doors. (Windows is known to do all three; likewise
+the iPhone and the Kindle.) But even absent such abuse, it wasn't
+right for users to be controlled by their software.</p>
+<p>That's why I launched the free software movement in 1983. We decided
+to develop an operating system and applications that would be entirely
+free (libre, freie), so that the users would have control over them.
+I gave this system the name GNU. (You have probably heard people call
+it "Linux", but that's an error.) People who switch to this system,
+and insist on using only free software, are in a position to control
+their computing. We have liberated only a small part of cyberspace,
+as yet, but that is a foothold for freedom.</p>
+<p>Developments in the Web threaten to negate this achievement. The
+first problem was the use of invisible references to sites whose
+mission was surveillance (perhaps for advertising). Users who visited
+sites A, B, X and Z did not realize that those pages contained
+invisible references to iamwatchingyou.com, so each visit informed
+that site too, and it recorded permanently that this user had visited
+things such as unusual-looking menus, its capabilities have been
+extended to the point where it can do nontrivial computing. Services
+browser. Even though they run in your computer, you have no control
+over what they do there.</p>
+<p>Then there is the issue of storing your data in companies' servers.
+The largest such companies have little respect for users' privacy.
+For instance, if you hand your data to Facebook, companies pay
+Facebook (not you) for the use of it. They pay Facebook (not you) to
+run ads using your face.</p>
+<p>The timesharing companies of the 1980s had usually treated their
+users' data with respect, even though they could occasionally abuse
+them, because their users were paying clients and could go elsewhere.
+Facebook's users do not pay, so they are not its clients. They are
+its merchandise, to be sold to other businesses. If the company is in
+the US, or is a subsidiary of a US company, the FBI can collect this
+data at whim without even a court order under an un-American US law,
+named in purest blackwhiting the "Patriot Act".</p>
+<p>Services also offer to operate on the users data. In effect, this
+means that users do their computing on the servers, and the servers
+take complete control of that computing.</p>
+<p>There is a systematic marketing campaign to drive users to entrusting
+their computing and their data to companies they have absolutely no
+reason to trust. Its buzzword is "cloud computing", a term used for
+so many different computing structures that its only real meaning is,
+"Do it without thinking about what you're doing".</p>
+<p>There is even a product, Google ChromeOS, designed so that it can only
+store data remotely, and the user must do her computing remotely.
+Ironically, it is free software, a version of GNU/Linux. Users will
+have access to the source code, and could change it so as to support
+local computing and local data storage — if the machine has enough
+memory to store it, and if it permits users to install their own
+versions of the software. If Android phones are any guide, most
+ChromeOS devices will be designed to prevent users from doing that.</p>
+<p>This does not mean Internet users can't have privacy. This does not
+mean that Internet users can't have control of their computing. It
+does mean that you'll have to swim against the current to have them.</p>
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+<p>Please send general FSF & GNU inquiries to
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+Please send broken links and other corrections or suggestions to
+<p>Please see the <a
+README</a> for information on coordinating and submitting translations
+of this article.</p>
+<p>Copyright © 2011 Richard Stallman</p>
+<p>This page is licensed under a <a rel="license"
+Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License</a>.</p>
+<!-- timestamp start -->
+$Date: 2011/08/03 13:38:55 $
+<!-- timestamp end -->
+<h4>Translations of this page</h4>
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+<li><a href="/philosophy/the-danger-of-ebooks.html">English</a> [en]</li>
- www/philosophy keep-control-of-your-computing.html,
James Turner <=