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Comment: Never ethical, never private, never secure (Score 1) 164

by jbn-o (#47642071) Attached to: F-Secure: Xiaomi Smartphones Do Secretly Steal Your Data

Location data and contact/address data are sensitive yet inextricably linked to how people use trackers (also known as cell phones and other portable electronic devices). Whether the device conveys GPS coordinates, can be tracked to a remarkably small area via cell tower triangulation, or unknown (to the user) parties get the information from a proprietor (such as Apple), the privacy loss inherent in ordinary tracker operation makes it impossible to "avoid storing sensitive data on the phone".

This is no accident. When societies face the combination of nonfree software (both in OS and programs people are encouraged to install later), devices that are as close to always-on as is possible for mobile computing, and a userbase as persistently distracted away from focusing on their civil liberties as most tracker users are (no thanks to sites like /. which carry stories like these without any ethical critique to go alongside the corporate-written stockprice-sensitive spin) results like these are the outcome. Add to that the unethical ways in which trackers are made (such as Apple turning a blind eye to the environment in China or expoiting workers at Pegatron even worse than at Foxconn but Apple is certainly not alone in any of this) and you have an ugly recipe for abuse from end-to-end. Many thanks to people including Richard Stallman for compiling useful information about all of this and for his many years of warning people against nonfree software.

Comment: Proprietary power is always anti-user. (Score 0) 267

by jbn-o (#47619659) Attached to: Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier

It's news because so many people are never taught to think of software freedom. Instead sites like this one shill for Microsoft, Apple, and a weaker "open source" message that was designed to draw attention away from ethical examination of the issue. Cutting off service and not providing programs for various systems are just two of the things proprietors with the power they wield over users. Software freedom would mean letting users maintain older OSes as much as they want to, backport programs they found valuable, and run builds of modern programs as much as desired.

You're quite right to point out that Apple is no friend on these grounds. But this shouldn't be looked at in terms of business; the effect on the user is far more important. Proprietors are the same in how they treat people because the heart of any nonfree software is unethical power over someone else's use of a computer. Richard Stallman reminds us that Apple uses this same leverage to pressure users into malicious "upgrades":

Using the lever of "You have a choice, but unless you say yes, your old activities will stop working" is something that Apple has done before, with malicious "upgrades". Apple ostensibly doesn't force people to accept the new nasty thing; it just punishes them if they don't.

Nobody should be obliged to work on developing programs and nobody should have the power to prevent users from developing the software.

Comment: The TSDB tracks names, not people. (Score 1) 256

by wiredog (#47613967) Attached to: 40% Of People On Terror Watch List Have No Terrorist Ties

There is a many to many mapping of those. (Should be many to one, but nothing is perfect.)

That is, my slashdot user name is one "name", so is my "real" name that people call me, which is not the full name on my birth certificate. So that's three names for one person.

Also, not all terrorist groups are in the middle east, or Muslim. Several are right here in the US, and Christian. (Or Jewish, not sure if any atheist groups are in the US).

Comment: Yes, voters need voter-verified paper ballots (Score 1) 190

by jbn-o (#47586497) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

Yes, you should object.

Voters can't be sure that there's any evidence of their vote entering the system accurately reflecting their vote without a voter-verified paper ballot. Electronic ballots are easily lost, misrepresented, and useless in a recount. Electronic voting doesn't improve on the problems with voter-verified paper ballots and electronic ballots introduce problems all their own. So this is an area where traditional voter-verified paper ballots are better for the voter and well worth fighting for.

Braille printed ballots are extra nice to have (the braille can co-exist with the ink print on the same voter-verified paper ballot). But voters who can't read ink printed text without braille (illiterate and blind voters, to name a couple of examples) can get help from a computer to help them prepare a voter-verified paper ballot. These voters can feed in a voter-verified paper ballot into a machine that is essentially a scanner/printer combo that prints marks on a traditional voter-verified paper ballot filling in the blanks in accordance with user input to the computer. The user can get the voter-verified paper ballot out of the machine and check out its accuracy, either submit it to be counted or spoil it to get a new voter-verified paper ballot and mark it themselves, Such voters can also bring someone they trust to help them vote but this is obviously less preferred as this means divulging one's vote to someone else.

Comment: Please explain your terms (Score 1) 189

by jbn-o (#47571131) Attached to: An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

I'm not convinced Wikipedia is somehow profoundly not an encylopedia. Part of the reason your post doesn't convince me is because you criticize Wikipedia for not being "on par with the Brittanica" without specifying what you think exactly that par is, or what exactly you think "the concept of an encyclopedia is". It's difficult to have a conversation about these things without understanding what you view those things to be.

I know that I don't get the same freedoms with Brittanica I get with Wikipedia: I'm not allowed to distribute verbatim or edited copies of Brittanica entries. These freedoms translate into practical outcomes for most people, most notably the main means of keeping Wikipedia viable and an (apparently) mainstream source of information. By contrast, if someone wants to build on what they view as Brittanica's articles they have to negotiate with Brittanica to do that (and I've never seen anyone do this) but I know of projects that build on Wikipedia. Many articles I find interesting and worth listing in an encyclopedia are simply missing from Brittanica but are present in Wikipedia, such as why Brittanica thinks "GNU/Linux" and "Linux" are the same (which is both inaccurate and unfair) while maintaining that the former is an operating system and the latter a kernel (which is accurate and fair).

I have no changelog for Brittanica, so I have nothing to point to there that compares with what I can get in Wikipedia's changelog. TFA implicitly shows the value of changelogs for identifying how long edits have remained and who edited what when.

As for editing by non-experts: I don't know who edits Brittanica's many editions (including the paper editions) nor do I know what their qualifications are. I find this to be roughly equivalent to Wikipedia because I don't know who edits Wikipedia either, nor do I know their qualifications.

I remember some years ago reading an article by a Brittanica affiliate who essentially proposed to weigh Brittanica and Wikipedia on an evaluation of one obscure point he knew something about. Not only is that bad surveying, but it invites critique that can be used against Brittanica just as easily. I recall being struck by how behind the times Brittanica was the last time I saw it, particularly on the free software movement, a topic I know something about. I found the lack of coverage in Brittanica telling. Where Brittanica had something to say on the matter, I found Brittanica made the usual errors and confusions people make when they've only been exposed to "open source" (such as attributing what Richard Stallman's actions with "open source" despite historical contradiction and Stallman's own words and deeds); open source movement's philosophy, practical outcomes, or history isn't the same as free software and it's a shame history and contemporary evidence weighs so lightly for Brittanica.

Comment: Reject all proprietary software and "choice" too (Score 1, Insightful) 436

by jbn-o (#47561643) Attached to: Which Is Better, Adblock Or Adblock Plus?
You'd not only rightly reject Google Chrome you'd also reject choice as a reason to favor nonfree software. Chrome is a nonfree browser so that is right out. A choice of nonfree programs doesn't satisfy what computer users need—software freedom. Choice is easily satisfied in that there's more than one alternative but choice of software says nothing about how well the alternatives address important needs to control one's computer (rather than letting the software control the users). So choice of software is a weak substitute for the freedoms to run, inspect, share, and modify software.

Comment: Software freedom is worth caring about (Score 2) 234

by jbn-o (#47558991) Attached to: Free Copy of the Sims 2 Contains SecuROM

People who care about controlling their computers care, as should all computer users care. This is another instance in a long line of great learning opportunities to distinguish between 'free as in price' and 'free as in freedom'—software proprietors get away with malware because how the software works is kept secret from its users. TFA tells us that Electronic Arts didn't tell prospective users SecuROM was a part of the gratis Sims 2 install, probably because EA knew users wouldn't install Sims 2 if they knew it came with SecuROM. Proprietors abuse the trust users have placed in them and it's time to teach users how things actually work, not encourage dismissal that hands users over to the abusers ("who cares").

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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