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Richard Stallman: Cell Phones Are 'Stalin's Dream' 792

Posted by Soulskill
from the stupid-stalin-ruins-everything dept.
jbrodkin writes "Cell phones are 'Stalin's dream,' says free software pioneer Richard Stallman, who refuses to own one. 'Cell phones are tools of Big Brother. I'm not going to carry a tracking device that records where I go all the time, and I'm not going to carry a surveillance device that can be turned on to eavesdrop.' Even the open source Android is dangerous because devices ship with proprietary executables, Stallman says in a wide-ranging interview on the state of the free software movement. Despite some progress, Stallman is still dismayed by 'The existence and use of non-free software [which] is a social problem. It's an evil. And our aim is a world without that problem.'"
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Richard Stallman: Cell Phones Are 'Stalin's Dream'

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  • by Billy the Boy (2016540) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:18AM (#35489748)
    Oh come on, trying to get everyone to stop using mobile phones is a little bit far fetched. It's also not like you can make the cell phone technology in any other way, location tracking will always be possible. That's why there are laws that restrict access to such records. AND if you really want to blow up a pizza place, leave your phone home that one time.

    And the social problem of non-free software? People do not care. They never have, they never will. I doubt Stallman cares about every little detail about things he uses but isn't that interested in. When he is cooking his tv dinner, he just wants a microwave that works. When Stallman goes to his weekly pony riding classes, he just wants a pony that works without going into every mundane detail. Some little girl could think that Stallman is evil because he doesn't raise, feed and have the pony at his home as part of the family, but while Stallman doesn't have time to raise a pony, he wants to ride one. That's when you take what's easy for you without going in to details.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by divxio (2016536)
      There's also nothing wrong with proprietary executables, expect maybe for OSS geeks. We can have them both. Instead of attacking proprietary software and companies like Microsoft by saying they're the root of evil, MAKE BETTER SOFTWARE. Let the quality show how good choice OSS is.
      • I agree. By far open source advocates have mostly attacked Microsoft and other software companies that produce closed source applications.

        Where is FOSS answer for Visual Studio? There just isn't anything as good.

        Where is open source games that beat the hell out of commercial games?
        Where are the games like Call of Duty (a hugely popular game), Civilization V, Portal 2, World of Warcraft.. the list goes on and on.

        And no, being open source alone isn't enough reason. The applications and games have to be
        • by c0lo (1497653)

          Where is FOSS answer for Visual Studio? There just isn't anything as good.

          I for one prefer Eclipse to VS. Even when developing C++.

          And no, being open source alone isn't enough reason. The applications and games have to be better than their commercial competitors!

          With this, I cannot do anything but agree.

        • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:40AM (#35489930)

          If you're going to rant about this, at least understand what the man is on about. It's not "OMG FOSS is just so better and Miscro$oft is teh evils!!!11!1ONE!!!"

          His position is basically that if you don't have the source you don't have the freedom to control your own computing.

          With closed source programs you are:

          • Never sure what they're doing
          • Unable to adapt them to your needs
          • Unable to share them with other people (sharing being a virtue, not a vice)

          He considers those points (and at least one other, and possibly wider points than I have made) to be essential for a person to be free and to be in control of the device they are using. A computer is a general purpose device, shouldn't a user/owner be able (within their technical bounds) to make it do what they want?

          Now, you may or may not agree with his stance (I don't agree with all of it, certainly), but for him and people like him this is not a question of utility.

          Saying "where's the software" is therefore totally irrelevant to RMS and people of his views, because it becomes a moral issue. They wish to control their computing devices, they believe that it is their right to do so. Therefore they will not give money or time to those that promote a different agenda. Just like some people don't buy DRM, or Sony.

          So yes, for them, being open source is enough reason. Or rather the reverse, something being closed source is enough reason to avoid it.

          As I say, I do not necessarily buy into his stance, the guy has some views I don't agree with, but if you're going to rubbish him at least try to understand it instead of mindlessly bleating about how proprietary software is better. That's may be so, but it isn't the point.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by davev2.0 (1873518)
            When one share's a book with another person, one does not have access to the book until it is returned. Please explain how "sharing" software will work. Explain how only one copy of the work will exist if you "share" it with, say, Stallman.

            As for such complaints as "unable to adapt them to your needs" and "never sure what they are doing", tell you what you do: Either write it yourself or go pay someone to write it for you.

            . A computer is a general purpose device, shouldn't a user/owner be able (within thei

          • by Creepy (93888)

            RMS hails from the days when software was free but tied to hardware, so even if the source was available, it only ran on VMS (for instance) and needed to be ported to other platforms, which was non-trivial. With the advent of 'C' and hardware independence, the hardware ties are removed.

            So the question is who pays the software developers for their time (and I don't mean hobby time - I mean even a base survival income)?

            From what I've read of RMS's view, that should be the hardware developers. That WILL NOT HA

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:47AM (#35489984)

          FOSS games suffer from one big problem: Graphics. For some odd reason it's fairly easy to find good programmers who are willing and able to contribute to free software, but finding a graphics guru that doesn't want more money than he's worth is like pulling teeth.

        • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:26AM (#35490418) Homepage

          Stallman's answer to that would be "It's doesn't matter". He has regularly and without the least sense of irony said that he would always rather use "worse" Free Software than "better" closed software. This is fine in my opinion, it's his computer and he can put whatever he likes on it. The telling bit is here: "The existence and use of non-free software [which] is a social problem. It's an evil. And our aim is a world without that problem." As soon as one side of the debate has labeled the other side "evil", the entire concept of "debate" is becoming worthless. This is the problem with Stallman as an advocate. He's got no shades of gray. Fanatics make terrible representatives for a cause, because in a world with billions of people, the chance to get even part of what you want, without some sorts of compromise, is non-existent.

          Some would argue "Well that's silly, obviously he's gotten some of what he wants look how popular certain free software projects are." I'd argue that this has happened largely in spite of Stallman, not becasue of him. It's only since guys like Eric Raymond started the more compromise oriented "Open Source" philosophy (strange to think of ESR as a compromiser, but by comparison he is), and guys like Torvalds have written popular FOSS software in a non-political way; that FOSS has started getting traction.

          As as side note, Stallman could care less about the lack of a VS equivalent; or whether or not Eclipse is worse, comparable, or better than VS. If you ever read him describe how he uses a computer, it more or less froze in the 1970s. He uses almost exclusively text and terminal based tools. Last I heard he doesn't even use the internet beyond FTP (for posting the stuff he writes), mail, and USENET; and he get the mail and USENET from a periodic UUCP connection.

          • by Draek (916851)

            Fanatics make terrible representatives for a cause, because in a world with billions of people, the chance to get even part of what you want, without some sorts of compromise, is non-existent.

            Obligatory XKCD. [xkcd.com]

            The problems of "compromising" is that far too often, all you get is to screw over the views of both sides of the debate. Sometimes the world really is black and white.

            • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:51AM (#35491558) Homepage

              Yes, the best compromise is one in which neither side is happy. 99.99% of the population is unable or unwilling to use a computer the way Stallman uses a computer. The Freedom provided to them by the availability of source is largely immaterial to them. They can't read it, and don't really want to be able to. They don't mind giving up that Freedom in exchange for usable, useful software. Even those of us who can read and understand the source code can find value in giving up the right to do so in exchange for better, more useful, or more fun software. Even as someone who can write, understand, and modify source code, and someone who often uses OSS software; I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually modified someone else's code before using the their software. On each of those occasions I'd have been just as happy if I'd just been given a binary blob that hadn't required it.

              That said, if Stallman (or you for that matter) wants to use exclusively Free software I have no problem with it. I've made my choice to use a combination of OSS and commercial software depending on what works better. He's made his choice to use exclusively Free software regardless of what works better. Both are valid choices for an individual to make. My problem with Stallman is that he actually wants to remove that choice. He wants to free me by process of removing my choice to be non-free. I'd be just unhappy with a proprietary software company trying to take away my right an ability to use Free software.

          • by slim (1652) <`ten.puntrah' `ta' `nhoj'> on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:27AM (#35491262) Homepage

            This is the problem with Stallman as an advocate. He's got no shades of gray. Fanatics make terrible representatives for a cause, because in a world with billions of people, the chance to get even part of what you want, without some sorts of compromise, is non-existent.

            I think hardliners (to pick a word without the connotations of "fanatic" or "extremist") are quite useful in achieving a compromise.

            I spent my youth disagreeing with hard-line Welsh nationalists, but I've come to realise that without their extreme demands (which they have not achieved), the Welsh language would have been killed by London-led government policy. I think the moderate situation we have now is about right, but it wouldn't have come about without the hardliners demanding something stronger.

            Likewise, I'm glad of hard-line anti-war campaigners. I know there are situations on the global stage where the last resort of armed conflict becomes appropriate -- but I want peaceful resolution to be pursued wherever possible, so I'm grateful that there's a lobby demanding there be no war under any circumstances.

          • by emj (15659) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:50AM (#35491554) Homepage Journal

            15 year old mobile phones could be recycled if you could modify the software.

            So I think you need the whole spectrum of views, it's good that we have someone who is very vocal about software freedom, I think RMS be even more hardline just to counterbalance. I too have been annoyed by the unfree software in mobile phones, I have 10 year old Sony Ericsson phones that would be useful if I could modify the software.

        • The 'games problem' comes full circle: GFX Hardware and drivers were signed to large corps to ensure profit, as such they were only developed for these closed proprietary systems.

          This only allowed those in bed together, to access the technical specs needed to develop these cool graphics drivers.
          That is why, to this day, FOSS systems suffer this effect; progress on this front was locked down to a certain sector only.

          Cases in point, only for two companies, there are many others, this is just a subset to stren

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hawkinspeter (831501)
          I think RMS viewpoint is more about people's freedom, rather than open source being a better software methodology.

          By just comparing software on how well it works, you're missing out on the whole ethics side of the argument.

          I can't think of a car analogy, but here's a vegetable analogy. It's like comparing organic produce with non-organic produce and saying that organic farming is a waste of time as the tomatoes are smaller and until organic farming can produce bigger tomatoes than non-organic farming, i
        • by abigor (540274) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:30AM (#35491304)

          The first three posters in this thread have brand new, nearly consecutive uids and are sitting around agreeing with one another about proprietary software and MS. Just saying.

      • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:38AM (#35489898) Homepage

        If only quality were the determining factor. It's not and rarely ever is. MS Office is a frustrating and infuriating product for my users. I have to teach them how to use it and advise them of its limitations daily. MS Office is not "the best thing" out there. In many cases, I find OO.o (and now LibreOffice) to be quite sufficient for the vast majority of tasks out there except where 100% compatibility is required and that's the catch -- only one thing is 100% compatible with MS Office... that's the exact same version and patch level of MS Office. And it's "viral" by MS's definition of the word because when one user goes to a new version, eventually they ALL have to go to a new version or else that nearly 100% compatibility gets lost.

        Quality is NOT the determining factor -- in the case of MS software, it's "critical mass."

        • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:04AM (#35490152)

          The funny thing is MS Office isn't 100% compatible with itself. Older document versions don't always open the same. Usually it is formatting issues.

          I use open office because I dont have $300 for a license for software that gets used occasionally.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by microbee (682094)

          I have to teach them how to use it and advise them of its limitations daily.

          Yes, open source software doesn't require teaching. Just tell the uers to RTFM.

          • by erroneus (253617)

            My point of mentioning that was not to show that F/OSS is superior for learning, but to show that I know from first-hand experience how typical users find MS Office to be frustrating. I, actually, don't find MS Office to be frustrating -- I have been all over it and know its ins and outs well enough that I actually don't notice its shortcomings. I just know what it does and doesn't do and leave it at that. To remain frustrated with MS Office is like being pissed off that I can't fly with my own wings. I

          • Yes, open source software doesn't require teaching. Just tell the uers to RTFM.

            At least with OO.o / Libre Office, you don't have to pay for the privilege.

        • by Americano (920576) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:11AM (#35491076)

          MS Office is a frustrating and infuriating product for my users. I have to teach them how to use it and advise them of its limitations daily. MS Office is not "the best thing" out there.

          What software, in your opinion, is "better" than MS Office that's available today? It may not be the "best of all possible software packages," but it certainly seems to be the "best office package available on the market today."

          I've used OO.o and LibreOffice, and while they do an adequate job for most word processing needs I have, I certainly wouldn't call them any "better" than Office. And then there's also the question of advanced features that Office has - they may only be used by 1% of the company, but when you're making a choice for an "enterprise-wide" package, you choose the one that fits all (or "the most") of your needs - support & rollout costs far exceed the licensing costs, and OO.o/LibreOffice will require ongoing support just as much as MS Office - trying to buy MS Office for the "advanced" users while rolling out OO.o for the basic users also means that:

          1) You don't get as good a bulk deal on enterprise licensing;
          2) You have to pay to support TWO software packages;

          If your company has a need (even in a small proportion of users) for the advanced features of Office, you'll probably end up paying just as much to rollout Office to your whole company as you would trying to rollout and support a blend of MS and OO.o tools.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:57AM (#35491640)

        There's also nothing wrong with proprietary executables, expect maybe for OSS geeks.

        Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but getting totally fucked over by allowing myself to become dependent on orphanware, is how I became an "OSS geek." Proprietary executables have serious practical real-world disadvantages.

        Free software isn't a religion; it's a rational strategic reaction. My Amiga went years without an OS update. OS/2 too. My current work machine can't run a lot of software because it has an obsolete version of Mac OS X and there is no upgrade for this hardware.
        The proprietary compilers for the proprietary language that my former employer used (Clipper and Visual Objects) sucked and weren't getting maintained, and there wasn't anything to do about it except throw away thousands of lines of code that our products depended on. (Our solution was: go out of business. Problem solved.)

        Then I look at all the computers I now own, and am grateful that every single one of them can and does get maintenance, because they run Free Software. The only way these computers will ever become obsolete, will be if I decide they're too old/slow/powerhungry. (It's surprisingly how many peoples' computers become obsolete for reasons other than those things.) The only weakness is that some of them have Nvidia hardware and I run the proprietary drivers, so some day I will upgrade a kernel, and the driver will no longer exist because Nvidia will decide, "fuck you, user." Fortunately, this day hasn't come yet for those machines -- and it won't come for any of my newer hardware, ever. (Why? Because I preemptively prevented it, by thinking about it before stupidly buying things which require proprietary drivers.)

        If you use proprietary software, you get fucked, and that is the common case, not the rare case. It happens to most users at one time or another. Some of them realize what caused their problems and become "OSS geeks," and some of them don't get it, and repeat the mistake again and again and again, never ever learning how they set themselves up to become dependent on third parties.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        What Stallman wants is to allow the user to fix/replace any software. However there are many times when this can not be done. There may be government regulations that forbid end-user replacement of the firmware or customization of operation. For instance medical nuclear radiation therapy machines, you really don't want your hospital going in and mucking around with things, or bypassing firmware limits, etc. Or a wifi chip that should not allow configuring to exceed limits (I don't understand why moving

    • by wjousts (1529427) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:26AM (#35489806)

      When he is cooking his tv dinner, he just wants a microwave that works.

      I doubt his TV dinner is open sourced either. Most people would be (or, at least, ought to be) more concerned about what's in their food that what's in their software.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        That is why the law requires a list of the things in food to be on the packet. The process used to create food has be largely open and subject to rigorous standards too.

        Okay, people still eat shit for breakfast but look where that has got us. I think most people would accept that making people more aware of what they eat and how to stay healthy and at a sensible weight is a good thing.

        Similarly if people don't care that their personal data is being logged and sold or that their phone can be used to spy on t

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:27AM (#35489808)

      Tracking people is a matter of supply and demand. The supply side (mobile phone vendors, and networks) are only too happy to get a few extra euro/dollar for nearly nothing. In our capitalist world, it's the only goal of a company to maximize profit. If it's therefore necessary to screw all citizens and track them all, the company will do it.

      It's the governments, on the demand side, which should not want the information. It's governments who can (and should) regulate it. But they don't.

      Don't blame the mobile phones for a side-effect of an otherwise practical invention.

      The constant spying by governments on its citizens is the real problem... not the inventions that enable it.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      I doubt Stallman cares about...

      Oh, come on. We've been here before. Stallman loves to talk shit.

      He's a hoot.

      • by PhilHibbs (4537)

        Oh, come on. We've been here before. Stallman loves to talk shit.

        You don't change the world by being meek, mild, and reasonable.

      • by old man moss (863461) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:41AM (#35490596) Homepage
        I went to a talk by Richard Stallman in London last week where he discussed this issue and others. Whilst you are free to disagree with him, I think it is short-sighted to disregard his arguments as "shit", since they are perfectly rational. As he said in his talk - it is too late to worry about surveillance after your government has gone bad: now is the time to do something about it... assuming you think you are currently free.
    • by Lundse (1036754) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:07AM (#35490180)

      And the social problem of non-free software? People do not care

      Not the point. The point is that they should, and Stallman is trying to make that happen. I am not saying he is going about it in the best way (I'd would say that Eben Moglen is, more or less).

      I doubt Stallman cares about every little detail about things he uses but isn't that interested in. When he is cooking his tv dinner, he just wants a microwave that works.

      You know what, I think Stallman does care whether his microwave has a microphone in it, that he is not allowed to control. And I think he cares about whether his sneakers have a GPS that will not let him decide when it is off or on. I even think you do.

      The difference is that the telephone has a microphone and gps already, for good reason. But that is not a good reason not to let the end user control those -
      I do not care if you installed a bug in my house, or installed software on my phone behind my back, the end result is the same.

      People would be alarmed, if every book came with surveillance technology and screamed bloody murder if it came near a photo copier. The 'political arm' of the free software movement is saying you should be equally alarmed with the current state of affairs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ephemeriis (315124)

        And the social problem of non-free software? People do not care

        Not the point. The point is that they should, and Stallman is trying to make that happen.

        The obvious question is why should they? Just because we're geeks and we care about such things doesn't mean that they're actually important.

        Sure, it's good to have the source... It's nice to be able to see how things work, to make sure that they're doing the job we think they are, etc., etc. But that doesn't mean it's actually important to everyone that their software (and associated electronic devices) be open source.

        I doubt Stallman cares about every little detail about things he uses but isn't that interested in. When he is cooking his tv dinner, he just wants a microwave that works.

        You know what, I think Stallman does care whether his microwave has a microphone in it, that he is not allowed to control. And I think he cares about whether his sneakers have a GPS that will not let him decide when it is off or on. I even think you do.

        I think you're being a bit obtuse here...

        The point is that Stallman probably doesn't i

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:29AM (#35491292)

          So what's your point? You can't complain about something that's wrong, if you don't complain about everything that's wrong?

          Stallman himself has said that there are more important issues than free software, but, since he's a software guy, he talks about software.

          The whole "How can you talk about A, when there's B in the world?" is just cheap rhetoric.

          And just as a FYI, here's Stallman on hardware: http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=1999-06-22-005-05-NW-LF

    • "People do not care"?

      What's your point? Isn't that the reason you might want to have someone thinking about this sort of stuff and perhaps persuading those people that might care? Or are you claiming that because the majority of people don't care, then any minority's efforts are irrelevant? Because of RMS we have the free software movement. Just because he cares much more than I do, doesn't mean I can't recognise that the wealth of open source code available (created by people that *do* care) isn't a great

    • It might be far fetched to convince people to stop using cell phones, but at least it's the right move. Instead of arguing that producers should make their code open to ensure that tracking isn't possible and all that hullabaloo, he's decided to take the easy road and just not use one. Are people glossing over this bit of information?
    • Oh come on, trying to get everyone to stop using mobile phones is a little bit far fetched. It's also not like you can make the cell phone technology in any other way, location tracking will always be possible.

      Well, yes, but only when you explicitly allow them to, as opposed to covertly tracking you even if the phone is set to "airplane mode" or simply off. Right now, they can. And that's a matter of who is making and controlling the mobile market. Mobile devices are here to stay, but our metaphorical Stalin would much rather you use a state-controlled phone as opposed to hardware and software that you control.

      And not everyone has to craft their own cell phone and compile their own kernal, the ABILITY to do so

  • They are so handy. I guess the best tools of evil sucker the users in with their unmissable features.
    • by Sardak (773761)
      Eh. I don't own a cell phone either, but for a much different reason. People tended to call me when I used to have one, and I didn't like that at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>They are so handy

      What is needed is not to give-up the tool (cellphone, printing press) but limit the ability of government to abuse the tool by guaranteeing the right to use the tool Freely without restriction.

      Governments should not be able to use Cellphone data unless first obtaining a warrant, and informing the person that the search has taken place. The EU has such a "law" codified in its Fundamental Rights document, and the US needs something similar but with stronger effect.

  • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:24AM (#35489786) Homepage

    I'm not going to carry a tracking device that records where I go all the time, and I'm not going to carry a surveillance device that can be turned on to eavesdrop.

    Legit privacy concerns aside, this sentence reads "silence of the f* lambs!!!" .

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:35AM (#35489868) Homepage Journal
      the 'turned on to eavesdrop" is very real.
      http://www.zdnet.com/news/fbi-taps-cell-phone-mic-as-eavesdropping-tool/150467 [zdnet.com]
      "functioned whether the phone was powered on or off." "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone."
      "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."
      That was a few years about past cases.
      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:42AM (#35489940)

        The FBI could have planted bugs in my apartment. They could bug my landline telephone. They could point a laser device at my window and pick up voice via the vibrations. They could be following me. They could have planted a tracking device on my car.
        Am I worried about this? No. Because there is no reason for the FBI to have any interest in me, and I'm not paranoid. It's certainly within the bounds of possibility, but then so is dying today by being struck by lightening. It's nothing to worry about and certainly not anything to inconvenience myself over by hiding in a cave.

        RMS has mental issues.

        • by Tom (822) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:01AM (#35490120) Homepage Journal

          The FBI could have planted bugs in my apartment. They could bug my landline telephone. They could point a laser device at my window and pick up voice via the vibrations. They could be following me. They could have planted a tracking device on my car.

          All of those except the landline require actions in the physical world, where resources are limited and distances are real. Those natural limitations will prevent large-scale invisible abuse. You can do it on a limited scale, or you can do it big scale but then the country turns visibly into a police state.

          Bugging your landline or your phone, or reading your GPS coordinates remotely requires a computer and being the FBI so you can tell the telco to go and do it. Running it on 1000 people is only marginally more troublesome than running it on 100 people. And that's a very important difference.

        • by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:02AM (#35490130) Journal

          No. Because there is no reason for the FBI to have any interest in me

          You are probably less relevant than RMS. But there are many powerful interests which would have interest in tracking and eavesdropping on him, so his argument is sound.

          But your point of view leads to the more worrying conclusion that, because most people lack the talent or the courage to take a stand, it shouldn't matter that those who do make a difference may be prevented from doing so. Essentially, you're scared of freedom and you resent those who want to enjoy it.

          Anyway, as a matter of routine I take out my cellphone battery when I don't need to use it. It probably cumulatively wastes an hour a year of quick hand movement, which is less than I waste in a couple of weeks on.. err.. masturbating? I know I'm less relevant than RMS, but being the activist type (in the sense of organisation and publication) I'm probably slightly more interesting than the average lady or gent. I know for certain by questions I've been asked at US immigration that at least someone's paying attention to what I'm doing.

          You have the right to be boring. I shall celebrate my freedom not to be.

        • by Lennie (16154)

          You are one of those people that has nothing to hide ?

          You think.

          There are a lot of arguments which show why that isn't a very good idea:

          http://yro.slashdot.org/story/07/07/10/2054219/Privacy-and-the-Nothing-To-Hide-Argument [slashdot.org]

          I think it left out all the psychological reasons. When you think about it, privacy is the only thing that keeps you from going insane.

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:25AM (#35489792) Homepage

    harbinger [wiktionary.org].

    RMS is seen as crying wolf, but many of his weirdest predictions have come true.

    Viz. The Right to Read [gnu.org]

    And we're already there with Amazon's action's regarding remote Kindle book manipulation.

    Cell phones? Remember the article on government snooping while the phone's turned off? The fact that cell phones can and do track you is blindingly true, but for some reason, people don't even want to hear it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BasilBrush (643681)

      RMS is seen as crying wolf, but many of his weirdest predictions have come true.

      Viz. The Right to Read [gnu.org]

      And we're already there with Amazon's action's regarding remote Kindle book manipulation.

      Except that article has not come true. There's nothing to stop you lending your kindle/computer to someone else to read your eBooks. You're just not allowed to copy them without permission - same as with paper books.

      RMS is no George Orwell. He's just a crank.

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:37AM (#35490536)

        Except that article has not come true. There's nothing to stop you lending your kindle/computer to someone else to read your eBooks.

        If you read the story, the main character does exactly that: he lends his computer to someone else, so she can read his books. In fact, what the character in that story does is considered a violation of the rules at some universities, since he also told someone else his password.

        You're just not allowed to copy them without permission - same as with paper books.

        Funny, because when I take a paper book to a copy machine, printed copies come out of the machine. There is no technical measure stopping me, only legal measures, and only if I am not engaging in fair use.

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          Funny, because when I take a paper book to a copy machine, printed copies come out of the machine. There is no technical measure stopping me, only legal measures, and only if I am not engaging in fair use.

          A kindle uses E Ink, so you'll be able to stick it on the photocopier and get a printed copy of each page that way too.

          In fact I think it has a screenshot function anyway which would be simpler still.

  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:28AM (#35489824) Homepage Journal

    The existence and use of non-free software [which] is a social problem. It's an evil. And our aim is a world without that problem.'

    This problem will only be solved or approached once
      (1) citizens can program, and once there is a language intuitive, useful and easy enough to pick up for non-programmers.
      (2) programs can be changed on-the-fly -- like in OLPC/XO where you can switch to the source mode and edit the python code for each activity

    As long as programming is not understood by users, the source might as well be not open, because they can not read and make sense of it anyway.

    • by slim (1652)

      As long as programming is not understood by users, the source might as well be not open, because they can not read and make sense of it anyway.

      If you can't program, you can get someone else to do it for you -- either with money, or with some other persuasion technique.

    • by Tom (822)

      (1) citizens can program,

      This will never happen. Look at what is happening instead - as computers grow more powerful, and programming becomes easier due to better languages (who still remembers manually allocating memory in C?), all those gains are offset by higher complexity.

      • by nyctopterus (717502) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:02AM (#35490954) Homepage

        Indeed! Most programming languages are actually pretty easy, and I think most people wouldn't have much trouble learning the basics (it's just basic logic if/then, loops etc.), but the platforms are so monstrously complicated that it requires a massive time investment to get anything that does anything, that it's just not worth people's time.

        Like most not-really-a-programmer types, I've learned the a portions of the web stack (SQL, PHP, Javascript), and I feel pretty comfortable reading other languages such as Python, Ruby, Java, or C--they just aren't that different. But learning how to get from lines of Objective-C, say, to a functional Application? Oh man, that'll take me weeks.

  • by nikomen (774068) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:30AM (#35489840)
    Some of us who do software development have families to feed. All software can't be free. Not all developers can be paid to do open source development and research at MIT. I support open source, but open source isn't the savior of humanity to bring world peace. Free software is like some FSM for RMS. He practically worships it.
    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:14AM (#35490268)

      I'm paid to write software, not write software to sell.

      It wouldn't matter if my employer decided to start passing on freely the software I write for them, they'd still need to pay me to write software in the first place.

      The more software they can bring in for free from elsewhere also means the more advanced and cutting edge software I get to write.

      Software doesn't have to be sold on for developers to get paid. For many companies the software their developers write for them pays for itself in increased staff productivity so there's no need to try and monetise the software directly.

    • by statusbar (314703)

      That is too bad for you that you are unable to make money working on free software.

      I do, and other people working with me do too, and have for a long time:

          https://github.com/jdkoftinoff [github.com]

          http://www.meyersound.com/opensource [meyersound.com]

      --jeffk

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      I write software for a living. My employer is not in the software business, it's in the entertainment website business, so software is a tool to sell stuff, not what we sell.

      As a result, we can and have open-sourced some of our packages. Not the stuff that would differentiate what we do from what our competitors do, but things like logging tools, web frameworks, and testing tools that every developer needs. Since some of this stuff doesn't exist the way we want it, we'd have to write it anyway, but since we

    • by tukang (1209392)

      I'll admit that the GPL is not useful for some business models but the notion that most people can't make a living developing GPL software is false and I bet most people believe that making money from GPL isn't possible because they misunderstand the GPL. Specifically, most people believe that the GPL license requires you to share the source with anyone who asks for it. That's false. You only have to share the source with the people you distribute the binaries to. Even if you're code is an extension of som

  • The freedom to record all that is around me or said to me is basic. The freedom to know where I have been and be able to offer a proof as to where I am is also basic. Imagine that a crime takes place and the criminal looks a lot like you and also drives a white Toyota. Instead of being half way to a conviction in the legal system you have proof of where you were when the crime went down. Also imagine the cops being able to do a sweeping search and being able to find witnesses and criminals who were

  • by tetrahedrassface (675645) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:38AM (#35489910) Journal

    I own and operate a fairly famous restaurant, and see a lot of people every week. Just this past week on Friday evening an older guy and I began chatting about Big Brother and the eaves dropping nanny state we live in. He told me that one of his friends and him would talk about "things" down in his workshop on his property, but that he made anyone that came there take the batteries *out* of their cell phones, because they can record and transmit conversations even when you think they are off. He said we learned this little intelligence hack from the Chinese who have been doing it for a few years now. I have no idea, but have manually disabled the GPS tracking feature in the phone, however any picture I take with the phone still has the lat/lon data in the photo. I don't want the latitude and longitude dammit!

    More than a few times I have told my wife that I wanted to throw our phones in the fireplace, but she is the trusting type, and doesn't seem to believe me when I tell her how her phone can violate hers and our privacy. I honestly hate cell phones on so many levels, but they are still one notch below my hatred of Facebook. To me the two go hand in hand. It is so easy to post things that may seem innocent on Facebook, but they end up being used against us. Facebook is number one in the privacy violation department, and we do it to ourselves. That is why both my wife and I have deleted our Facebook accounts and thankfully moved on over the last month and a half. I never liked Facebook anyway, but was on there to try to protect her. There is something gossipy and just plan creepy about it. Hell, i had customers who weren't even my friends on facebook coming in and asking me about posts i had made because they had been gossiping i guess with some of my Facebook friends in real life. JUST WIERD! My wife had her co-workers on there and supervisors on there. It was a recipe for disaster, and it almost ruined our marriage, and it definately creeped us out really good. Anyway, hopefully for my wife and I our cellphones will be the next to go... We aren't being luddites, but rather trying to retain at least a semblance of privacy in a nosy, gossipy, and evil networked world...

    • I own and operate a fairly famous restaurant

      McDonalds?
      • Yeah.. Im Ronald.. :=) I was meaning that I meet thousands of people a week... I just see a lot of people, and the vast majority of folks out there are clueless..

    • So you don't like phones or social networks to connect to any friends you may have. What does owning a restaurant have to do with anything? Sounds like you and your family need to use a little more discretion in what you put online and post. FB and phones and all the rest are just tools. You don't have to put everything you think on there nor all your bank accounts info and just realize that what you do put there is/can be seen by all. Maybe you just have a problem with good judgment. You're not a lud
    • by Mascot (120795) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:26AM (#35490414)

      So, to summarize, you don't know how to configure your phone to not geotag images, and you are unable to engage your brain before friending someone or posting something on Facebook.

      That's it? Really?

      You may not be luddites, but you do apparently lack any semblance of social antennas when it comes to picking your friends and choosing what information you share with them (both on Facebook and in real life, it would seem). You don't really state what you have against cell phones (beyond the paranoia that all phones are by default rigged to eavesdrop on you while switched off), so can't really comment on that.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Or you could pull the battery when you're not using your phone, carry a pager if notification of incoming calls is important to you (still plenty of one-way paging out there) and check your VM to find out if you have new calls otherwise. It IS possible to use a cellphone without spewing information constantly.

    • by Bloopie (991306) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:41AM (#35490586)

      he made anyone that came there take the batteries *out* of their cell phones, because they can record and transmit conversations even when you think they are off.

      Wait a second. You mention this, and yet you're posting on Slashdot with a registered account???

      Don't you know that right now Hussein Obama is personally readin' through yer post, cross-referencin' it with yer restaurant, and will soon pull you in for some gummint re-eddecashun??????

      What's that, Mabel? No, I didn't take my Risperdal this morning. That's all part of a gummint plot too!!!1!

    • by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent.jan.gohNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @11:55AM (#35492466) Homepage

      This makes no sense.

      If people post on Facebook, they're making their lives public. You may as well complain that when you took out that front-page ad about what's in your pants, EVERYONE read it and knew about it. Private information freely discussed in public is PUBLIC information. If you don't want people to hear about it, don't post it all over the friggin' internet.

      It's not Facebook's fault that people reveal stupid details. That's what they want to do. And if your friends in REAL LIFE are revealing gossip about you, that's YOUR FRIENDS that are the problem.

  • Stallman is right in the sense that we're all carrying around tracking devices and it's a scary concept when you put it that way but are you really going to knock down the reality door to the mobile phone users and get them to stop using the phones? Probably not. While I respect Stallman to the highest degree, immediately after reading this comment, I couldn't help but think of John Malkovich's character in Red.
    • by Lennie (16154)

      Do you know who has access to this information ?

      In the Netherlands we have this problems, the police queries this huge database 2.6 million times a year, in a country of 16 million people.

      The database contains records for 1 year.

      No records on queries are kept.

      There are rules which should protect our privacy but the police and government do nothing.

      I wouldn't be very surprised if in the US the situation wasn't exactly the same, you just don't know it yet.

  • I'm fairly certain rooting your phone and installing a new OS removes most of those nice proprietary apps. That's part of why I rooted mine. The rest was to fix the bluetooth stack, but that hardly counts as spying.

  • Hitlers dream (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jamesh (87723) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @08:54AM (#35490064)

    Affordable motorcars are Hitlers dream. What's his point?

  • by tronicum (617382) * on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:17AM (#35490302)
    Well until GNU/Hurd is not running on mobile phones, i stick with android...
  • by monoqlith (610041) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:38AM (#35490558)

    He just needs to stop communicating it this way. He's starting to ratchet up the rhetoric to the point where the fight against non-free software resembles a cosmic war.

    This is not a good vs. evil zero-sum game, Mr. Stallman. Eliminationist rhetoric has no place in our society.

  • by zmollusc (763634) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @09:51AM (#35490782)

    When we are in the work camps and the non-geeks ask us why we didn't warn them, we will respond "Erm, there was this one guy called Stallman who kept trying to warn us, but we wouldn't listen". Stallman will become a legend, maybe even Skylab's Terminators will talk about him once they have destroyed Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:05AM (#35490994) Homepage Journal
    a lot of you in other countries havent gone through this, but in turkey, everyone knows that they are being listened. the government refuses that they are listening to everyone's cell phones, however, always anything that is detrimental to the interests of the current government 'leaks' to pro-government newspapers from unknown sources. ironically, neither police or secret service unable to 'find' who does this. it keeps on going and going. even the judges' phones are being wiretapped, without authority. some judges started to buy jammers. despite ALL of these are in mainstream media, and everyone discusses, situation still hasnt changed. wiretapping goes on, noone is able to 'find' who is doing it. even ordinary people started to pay attention to what they are telling over the phone to each other. it was officially stated that over 60,000 people were being wiretapped at a given moment, but, naturally these are only those who went through 'due process'. everyone knows much more is being covered.

    it is probably happening in usa, u.k. etc too. but, the difference is, the governments there are not so clumsy as to go on using everything they find out by leaking it to their supporter media. they are probably using those much more wisely. how do i know ? well, the entire listening equipment and infrastructure here in turkey was bought and installed by american corporations.

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray

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