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Comment /. should encourage sharing (Score 4, Insightful) 66

So why not encourage GPL violators ("pirates" too)? Instead we seem to cheer whenever we find a GPL violator.

First, we should understand what the propagandistic term "piracy" really means and understand that meaning as separate from sharing—a friendly, neighborly thing to do. As the GNU Project points out in it's list of terms to avoid on "theft": "In general, laws don't define right and wrong. Laws, at their best, attempt to implement justice. If the laws (the implementation) don't fit our ideas of right and wrong (the spec), the laws are what should change. A US judge, presiding over a trial for copyright infringement, recognized that "piracy" and "theft" are smear-words.". This difference gets to the heart of the problem in your point—you're conflating the legal with the ethical and then trying to get others to view all sharing as copyright infringement and all copyright infringement as equivalent because the law frames things in that way.

We should recognize that the terms of the licenses involved between, say, the GNU General Public License (GPL) and a typical Hollywood movie, are radically different when it comes to doing what friends do: share. One can and should share copies of GPL'd programs. It's easy to do, the GPL is easy to comply with simply by also sharing a copy of the complete corresponding source code of the program at the same time as one shares the binary. By contrast, other famously shared copyrighted items (such as most Hollywood movies) aren't legal to share even if done non-commercially and verbatim. So doing the thing that comes naturally with friends, non-commercial and verbatim sharing, is likely not allowed by that movie's license.

Since you mention the GPL, a free software license written by Richard Stallman, this is somewhat akin to what Stallman describes in his talks about the freedoms of free software specifically freedom #2: the freedom to help your neighbour. That's the freedom to make copies and distribute them to others, when you wish. This comes from a 2006-03-09 talk and you can see how the consideration here is akin to the dilemma one faces should a friend ask for a copy of a Hollywood movie:

Freedom two is essential on fundamental ethical grounds, so that you can live an upright, ethical life as a member of your community. If you use a program that does not give you freedom number two, you're in danger of falling at any moment into a moral dilemma. When your friend says "that's a nice program, could I have a copy?" At that moment, you will have to choose between two evils. One evil is: give your friend a copy and violate the licence of the program. The other evil is: deny your friend a copy and comply with the licence of the program.

Once you are in that situation, you should choose the lesser evil. The lesser evil is to give your friend a copy and violate the licence of the program.


Now, why is that the lesser evil? The reason is that we can assume that your friend has treated you well and has been a good person and deserves your cooperation. The reason we can assume this is that in the other case, if a nasty person you don't really like asked you for help, of course you can say "Why should I help you?" So that's an easy case. The hard case is the case where that person has been a good person to you and other people and you would want to help him normally.

Whereas, the developer of the program has deliberately attacked the social solidarity of your community. Deliberately tried to separate you from everyone else in the World. So if you can't help doing wrong in some direction or other, better to aim the wrong at somebody who deserves it, who has done something wrong, rather than at somebody who hasn't done anything wrong.

However, to be the lesser evil does not mean it is good. It's never good - not entirely - to make some kind of agreement and then break it. It may be the right thing to do, but it's not entirely good.

The only thing in the software field that is worse than an unauthorised copy of a proprietary program, is an authorised copy of the proprietary program because this does the same harm to its whole community of users, and in addition, usually the developer, the perpetrator of this evil, profits from it.

Comment High-tech users have a lot to learn here (Score 1) 637

There's a lot programmers, sysadmins, and other high-tech people could learn from those who are used to organizing politically for shared ends. Political advocacy is not one of the poorer high-tech person's strengths. There's a streak of undeserved independence in high-tech that doesn't reflect how much people have to work together explicitly for political ends, not dismissing politics as undesirable, unnecessary, or unimportant as you commonly see the high-tech set train each other to espouse.

Comment Why do you believe people don't care? (Score 4, Informative) 104

What's your backing for that assertion?

I ask this because I notice you've cited nothing backing up your claim, and it's quite a claim. And because people on /. make comparably grand assertions of people not caring about the Snowden revelations despite evidence to the contrary, and it's a good idea to back up one's statements from something substantial.

Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and Noam Chomsky addressed this at a recent talk on privacy and spent some time debunking the notion that the public doesn't care about privacy or that Snowden's revelations weren't a big deal.

The host says around 32m44s that after Snowden's revelations were published by international news "Pew Internet Life Research shows that people were modifying their behavior -- they were self-censoring, they were curtailing their own speech.". Around 38m the host questions the point directly asking "Do people in general care?" to which we get variations on the theme of "Yes" ranging from Snowden's point that whether people care "isn't really that material even if it is the case [because] rights don't exist for the majority; rights exist to protect the minority against the majority.". He then explains that he thinks increasingly people do care because they only recently learned of the threat to their privacy and then he explains that threat in plain language.

Greenwald, by this time in the discussion, had already debunked the notion that people who say they have no secrets and therefore don't care: He offered them his email address and told them to send him the credentials of every personal (as opposed to work) account they have including the sensitive ones (I interpreted this to mean an account on, say, a cheat-on-one's-spouse site). To date, he said, nobody's taken him up on his offer. Here he points out that contrary to the naysayers who dismissed the Snowden revelations as a flash-in-the-pan that would go away in a few days, these documents have been headline stories "not just in the United States but in dozens of countries in multiple continents around the world precisely because people were so angry and offended at the intrusion into their privacy including people who might have said in the past 'I don't really care'." (43m43s). He cites a "massive increase in the number of people around the world who are now using encryption to protect the privacy of their communications, to the number of people who put pressure on the US Government in both parties to enact legislation limiting these programs [the NSA spying programs] but maybe the best evidence of all of how much people care about privacy is the behavioral change in Silicon Valley companies. The biggest ones -- Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, and Google, and Microsoft -- when I first read the archive that Ed gave me, one of the things that struck me the most is what full-scale collaborators these companies were in the surveillance state that the NSA had created. They were not only complying [and a Snowden leaked document from the NSA showing "Dates When PRISM Collection Began For Each Provider"] [...] to the extent the law required but even went beyond that." including building backdoors into their non-free, user-subjugating, proprietary software. Greenwald concludes, "And the reason they were such full-scale collaborators is because nobody knew they were doing it completely in the dark, nobody knew they were doing it, and there was no cost." (45m18s). Once this became known these companies changed their behavior due to fear of being seen as the collaborators they have been for so long. They know the pressures of their customer base and that they are seen standing up to the FBI, being "seen as aides and abettors of ISIS", etc. People won't use these companies' products and services if they know their privacy won't be upheld.

Noam Chomsky reflected on this from a historical perspective saying that the answer was given centuries ago by Blaise Pascal, "The root of man's misfortunes is the lack of a room in which one can sit quiet and undisturbed." recognizing that this metaphor is substantively correct.

Comment Don't do business with orgs that treat us badly. (Score 1) 120

Given how unprincipled /. moderators are (see any thread about whether a /. moderator will pay to see the next Star Wars movie and keep in mind Disney's behavior on DRM and copyright term extension, for instance), I'd say you're sadly in the minority. Cases like this are ample reason to refuse to do business with organizations that treat us badly, but /. moderators became far more concerned with convenience at any price.

Comment SELinux gains value through software freedom (Score 3, Insightful) 412

To my mind SELinux's value comes from it being free software. The freedoms of free software allow us to vet, run, share, and modify SELinux and make sure it does what we need it to do. Coming from NSA is nice because I'm sure the NSA hires skilled programmers who worked on SELinux, but I'm not going to trust any non-free software coming from the NSA because non-free software (regardless of purpose or stated intent) is untrustworthy.

The drug war (the US's longest war?), which seems intimately tied to the Drug Enforcement Agency, certainly is a horror.

Comment Re:If not now... (Score 1) 1023

Further putting the lie to Ed Rensi's words, McDonald's was pursuing more automation well before the $15/hour minimum wage was proposed. There is at least one location where one can order with a computer terminal instead of talking to a teller.

I'm guessing there are fast food restaurants (however broadly defined) which will take one's order, collect payment, cook/heat the food, box the order, and give it to the customer with an almost all-robotic workforce (save ingredient delivery, robot maintenance, and site cleaning). If you're okay with minimal customization, food you could have cooked/heated yourself at home at a lower price, and having to wait somewhere other than your home for the food to be dispensed to you, this might be something to try. To me it sounds remarkably unappetizing.

Comment Farewell K5, I hardly knew ye (Score 2) 264

I wasn't a K5 account holder or poster but I read it infrequently and thought that it was likely to give visitors a more mature discussion than what one would find elsewhere (Twitter, Slashdot, Digg, and so many other current and former discussion websites). Sort of like when Slashdot was new and not yet populated by shills and people who reflexively accept whatever the corporate-run tech press says is worthwhile. I didn't get the impression that K5 gave as much heed to the "firehose" headline publishing approach Slashdot brags about (which I think is a big part of the reason people are discouraged from thinking critically and seriously about corporate repeater sites like Slashdot's narrow scope of allowable debate): if there's not enough time to digest something before being cut off from an audience (whether through the site shutting off comments or visitors being steered toward newer stories), there's only enough time to echo familiar tropes. This is much like what Noam Chomsky identified in "Manufacturing Consent" regarding the tyranny of concision.

Comment Privacy and software freedom trump convenience (Score 1) 144

Or you could host a free software editing system somewhere trustworthy (that's not Google, Microsoft, Yahoo,, and others) and have the same minor conveniences without feeding a system built to destroy your family privacy.

There's nothing about your use case that justifies the need for this kind of hosting anyhow, as everything you describe doing could be done with hosting an ODF file on a file server you control. One hopes your family values privacy more than either convenience or bolstering the bottom line of known spy agencies such as Google.

Comment Online storage unnecessary for leaking (Score 1) 110

An air-gapped computer still has to have trusted people accessing it, hence each person represents a potential point of failure. The more updating these air-gapped computer records require the more frequent the on-site people use the air-gapped computers and the more opportunity any of them can copy data to a portable storage device. Leaks happen because people in-the-know who have a conscience choose to publish the confidential records. This predates the use of computers.

Comment Disinterest in privacy misreported, misunderstood (Score 1) 71

Alleged public disinterest in the Snowden revelations and their consequences is misreported and misunderstood. I've only ever seen such claims in forums like /. where people can easily post under multiple handles in an attempt to misrepresent their numbers. The international special meetings amongst heads of state (including Chancellor Merkel's self-centered caring about spying involving her equipment), the rush to encrypt things in internal networks (and to publicize such encryption) and user-facing products, and the fear of being seen as indifferent to spying (Apple, Google, and Microsoft have all recently participated in this, one corporate PR "story" from Microsoft was repeated close to this story on /.) are clear counterexamples to the allegation that people don't care. If people were genuinely as indifferent as claimed there would be no point in being seen to care about user's privacy. But I think Glenn Greenwald said it best:

One really interesting aspect of this is, a lot of people ask what really has changed as a result of Edward Snowden's revelations, and sometimes people express the view that not much has, by which they mean that there's not a lot of laws that have been passed limiting the NSA's ability to spy. But one critical change, a really fundamental and significant one, has been that prior to the Snowden revelations, Silicon Valley companies, like Apple and Facebook and Google and Yahoo, were full-scale collaborators with the NSA's effort to collect everything, essentially, to turn the Internet into an unlimited realm of surveillance. And they were able to do that because nobody knew they were doing it, and so there was no cost. Once we were able to shine a light on the cooperation between Silicon Valley and the NSA as a result of Edward Snowden, there was a huge cost to these companies, which was that people around the world would be unwilling to use their services and would instead move to South Korean or German or Brazilian social media companies that protected their privacy. And so these companies needed to say, "We are willing now to protect your privacy by putting encryption products into our products that will not let the government invade your communications and see what you're doing." And there is now a serious wedge between the U.S. government, on the one hand, and Silicon Valley, on the other—not because these companies suddenly care about privacy. They don't care about privacy at all. It's because they perceive it as being within their self-interest to demonstrate a commitment to privacy. And that has created a real difficulty for the NSA and for its allied agencies around the world to be able to intrude into people's private communications.

Comment /. title expresses unethical power over owners (Score 1) 44

"Bike Company Lets Users Create Replacement Parts" is a part of the problem. That word ("Lets") creates the impression that before the issue is even discussed EditorDavid and whomever else is involved in writing /. article posts has decided the default should be to deny bicycle owners the freedom to help themselves by making replacement parts with or without the vendor's cooperation and thus this requires permission. Therefore we're supposed to think it's generous that a bike company "lets" people do this. Nonsense.

It's nice when manufacturers make it easier for owners to make and install replacement parts but it's wrong and unhealthy for the public to view the situation as though this behavior is off-limits by default unless permission is granted. One should celebrate this cooperation and use this cooperation as a reason to do business with these organizations. But don't hobble yourselves into seeking permission to maintain things you own. Down that road lies a lack of freedom, DRM, and more.

A better headline would be to replace "Lets" with "Helps".

Comment Pearls before /. swine? (Score 1) 93

True although you should oppose the TPP. But how many /. readers do you think will keep your words in mind when Disney releases the next Star Wars movie? I think the likely power-for-power's-sake coveting readership of most tech sites (virtually all corporate news repeaters) will very likely fund known adversaries on copyright and foreign worker law on the basis of "ooh, shiny!" rationalization. And that shows you how foolish they are: prioritizing entertainment over things they need to live (which you've rightly listed).

Comment Trump's belligerancy is quite mainstream. (Score 4, Interesting) 93

I encourage people to listen to what he says, and not just the indignant responses to his campaign rhetoric because it's interesting to hear an 'emperor wears no clothes' candidate as Trump occasionally is. Some of the things Trump says are plain lies, racist, and vulgar—reasons to reject supporting his campaign. But sometimes he tells the truth and gets booed for it (like when he pointed out the Iraq war was based on lies) or describes long-extant US mainstream foreign policy in clear language yet gets unfair flack for it from those who consider themselves a part of the US left (like the call-in to Fox News advocating a war crime). The real horror of his candidacy isn't Trump per se it's that so much of what he says is a plainly-worded description of what's going on and what has been going on for years before Trump's campaign began.

Consider Trump's call-in to which John Oliver provided a remarkably one-sided indignant reaction: On his 2016-02-28 show, John Oliver played a clip of Trump's call-in to Fox News saying "...the other thing with the terrorists, you have to take out their families. When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. They say they don't care about their lives, you have to take out their families." and Oliver replied "That is the front runner for the Republican nomination advocating a war crime." which is a true but incomplete and certainly nowhere near as damning as Oliver wants it to be.

Oliver never told his viewers that is also extant US foreign policy wherein President Obama hand-picks whom to assassinate with drones every Tuesday (the so-called "Terror Tuesday" meetings) and that these attacks have extrajudicially killed innocent family members of alleged (never arrested, charged, or tried) so-called "terrorists". Some killed on-purpose (like 16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman, son of U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki who was killed in a separate attack 2 weeks prior), some killed without the U.S. knowing who they are killing as the CIA apparently does with some regularity. This is what Noam Chomsky recently rightly described as "massive global terrorism": drone attacks firing missiles that destroy whatever the missile hits as well as a large area around the target, resulting in indiscriminate extrajudicial murder of innocent passers-by. When Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and senior adviser to Obama's reelection campaign commented on Abdulrahman's murder shortly after it happened Gibbs said "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children." a line on a par with Trump-level tact and recognition of responsibility.

Or when former NSA and CIA director, General Michael Hayden told Bill Maher "the American armed forces would refuse to act [on Trump's orders on torture and extrajudicial killings]" and Trump says "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me, believe me." Trump is right—they won't refuse. The proof has been staring the world in the face for years as Glenn Greenwald pointed out on Democracy Now! on 2016-03-29:

The idea that the U.S. military, in mass, refuses to follow orders if they constitute illegal conduct or war crimes is negated by the entire history of this country, including very recently. You do have isolated members of the armed forces who periodically refuse on grounds of conscience or legal and moral duty. They denounce certain tactics. They resign from the military. They refuse to follow orders. But overwhelmingly, the U.S. military has been continuously willing—and not just the U.S. military but also the CIA—to engage in all sorts of war crimes and illegal behavior. Who is it who instituted the worldwide regime of torture because they were told to by the Bush administration? Or who was it that instituted a policy of kidnapping people without trial from around the world and putting them into dark black sites outside of the reach of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations? Or who is it who carpet-bombed Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam? It's this really self-pleasing fantasy to believe that the U.S. military and intelligence services would nobly refuse to follow the orders of their commander-in-chief if they constituted war crimes and other illegal conduct. But everything in U.S. history, including as recently as the war on terror, tells us that Donald Trump is absolutely right, that in fact they would follow orders.

So when Trump is vilified by Oliver and others about war crimes he's being vilified for using unvarnished language to explain what's happening now: Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Obama continued and expanded on George W. Bush's wars through drone campaigns (which have killed more people than the attacks in France and Brussels combined) and insured an unbroken line of torture as well. The drone attacks came to light again when ISIS took credit for the attack in Brussels when they said their bombings will continue so long as U.S. continues their bombings (as Noam Chomsky described in his recent talk on privacy with Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald around 1h8m28s into that recording of the talk.

For all of Trump's belligerency, racism, and sexism, he hasn't killed anyone (as far as I know) and Trump doesn't have the means to carry out extrajudicial killings or attacks on innocents that compare to what's already happened and is going on now in the numerous U.S. wars (and will almost certainly continue under Hillary Clinton should she become the next U.S. President). Even the attacks at Trump rallies and kicking some people out of those rallies, while certainly unsavory and racist, have yet to be shown to be lethal. People's justifiable anger should be directed against those that make our lives needlessly harder and less safe due to extrajudicial killing. We can make racist screeds less potent by giving them the near-zero attention they deserve. In case one wonders how effective near-zero media attention is, consider the Bernie Sanders campaign which in recent months seems to be a fight for media attention even when he wins delegates, or the Dr. Jill Stein campaign which is virtually unheard of even amongst those that consider themselves leftists.

Comment All computer users deserve freedom, security (Score 1) 457

This method isn't that important anyway because it only affects older phones. Newer ones remain secure.

Proprietary software cannot be deemed secure by its users, those who use proprietary software can't be sure what data is collected, where it is sent, and have no legal way to edit the program to make it obey only the computer's owner. Apple is certainly not a trustworthy party in this. Also, all computer users deserve software freedom and the security that is available to free software, not just users of the latest iThings.

Comment Software freedom, not nationalism, is needed. (Score 4, Insightful) 68

The real problem is nonfree software—software which denies its users the freedoms of free software—which is also appropriately called user subjugating, proprietary software—not nationalism. There are plenty of software distributors in other countries that mistreat their users by distributing proprietary software. All proprietary software is inherently untrustworthy because proprietary software doesn't grant its users software freedom. Some distributors distribute proprietary software precisely because they know they stand a good chance of getting away with malware (including digital restrictions, spyware, ransomware, and backdoors).

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