GNU Creator Labels Windows And OS X As Malware, Trashes IoT Movement

Most people think of malware as being disruptive, unintended software. Short for "malicious software", malware explains itself pretty well, but as GNU founder Richard Stallman can attest, our interpretations of what makes software "malware" can vary greatly.

For Stallman, who just penned his insights for The Guardian, malware is software that does what it's supposed to do, but with caveats. Tracking is a major beef of Stallman's, and is his biggest target here. Even "open source" OSes like Android are not safe from being called the M-word, as it's designed to harvest an absurd amount of data on its users.

He sums up his thoughts well, stating, "What sorts of wrongs are found in malware? Some programs are designed to snoop on the user. Some are designed to shackle users, such as Digital Rights Management (DRM). Some have back doors for doing remote mischief. Some even impose censorship. Some developers explicitly sabotage their users."

Richard Stallman

Even as a supporter of free software and a Linux user of fifteen years, I'm not sure that I agree with Stallman on much. Even in Linux, I use some propriety "non-free" software, such as VMware Workstation, Steam, and the closed-sourced NVIDIA graphics driver. But with that all said, I can't find a single fault with this logic here. In an ideal world, a lot more people would be concerned with their privacy, and not to mention security. We're being constantly tracked, and we allow it.

He goes on to say: "It is fashionable to recognise the viciousness of today’s computing only to declare resistance unthinkable. Many claim that no one could resist gratification for mere freedom and privacy. But it’s not as hard as they say."

That highlights the biggest problem. To go 100% free/libre, major changes would have to take place in most people's lives. I don't even think we could use a smartphone, as one major example, and only truly free operating systems with non-proprietary drivers and non-tracking software could be used. Don't want your email tracked? That's only a Web server away -- so have fun setting that up!

Linux Kernel
The Linux kernel is an example of free/libre software

Stallman is someone who's able to do that, but most can't, or won't. Stallman is so sensitive with privacy matters, that he rarely visits webpages directly; he instead fetches them with a remote server, and then emails the page to himself as an attachment. It doesn't get much more hardcore than that. But that doesn't mean that we can't all start demanding that we're not tracked by every single app we use (Stallman even mentions free flashlight apps as being used to track people).

I may be a pessimist here, but I can't see that happening -- companies like Google and Microsoft make money on the masses, and the masses have proven time and time again that they are not too concerned with the harvesting of their data.

Tags:  Open Source, gnu, fsf