EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.16.11

Why Public and Private Records Keeping Systems Should Use Free Software.

Posted in Action, America, Antitrust, Database, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Identity Management, Law at 10:10 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Institutions which value their customer’s privacy should only use free software for their day to day business and record keeping. The rapacious behavior of banks, insurance companies and marketing firms has received a great deal of attention, and sane countries are making data privacy laws but the issue of non free software is seldom raised. Medical records are a particularly sensitive area where morals and ethics should trump profit. Ethical medical practitioners know that the records they create belong to the patient and that those records must be guarded and only surrendered to the patient or other health care professionals serving the patient. Bankers, insurance companies and other companies should be forced by law to abide by similar rules but no one can actually comply if they use propitiatory software which hides operations from users.

The US is in the midst of an insurance industry push towards electronic medical records. Tax breaks and other incentives have been offered to doctors who make the move to electronic records keeping. This will be good if adequate protections are in place.

The privacy of electronic records is supposed to be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, but there are obvious and gaping problems. Frequently raised concerns include nosy clerks especially at satellite institutions like pharmacies, unauthorized remote intrusion, court orders and a lack of action by regulators who take complaints. Mostly overlooked is the fact that software owners like Microsoft will have unfettered access to any medical record that any Windows system has access to. Google recently proved that Microsoft was spying on ordinary users, so the threat is no longer a theoretical matter of the company exercising the broad rights to snoop they gave themselves in their EULAs a decade ago [2] with or without your permission.

Every business and government office that uses non free software should realize this threat and end it by migrating to free software. Moving to free software won’t protect institutions from malicious clerks and other commonly mentioned problems but it is the only solution to unauthorized access to records by software owners. That access and power is at the heart of the bad deal propitiatory software has always offered but is exposed in an ugly way when all of our records are electronic and computers must be on a network to be considered useful.

Businesses that do not move out of customer and self interest should be forced by law. Customers and citizens concerned about their privacy should be protected. Because no such privacy can be guaranteed by propitiatory software, no propitiatory software should be allowed to operate on customer business records. Only software with the four software freedoms should be allowed.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

10 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    September 17, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Gravatar

    “Mostly overlooked is the fact that software owners like Microsoft will have unfettered access to any medical record that any Windows system has access to.”

    No. Not even close.

    Instead of pushing *my* favored solution on people, I believe people should have choice. i think choice is a great thing.

    twitter Reply:

    You have not addressed the problem which is that non free software gives it’s owners power that no one should have. Microsoft’s ability to snoop on users of their software is well established. How is that acceptable on systems that contain sensitive records?

    Even if that’s OK with you and your records, it’s not OK with me so you can’t use that software to keep my records. You might have made an informed choice for yourself, but you can’t force your apathy on others. People who value their privacy will eventually reach this conclusion and the law must follow.

    Michael Reply:

    Please point to the law that allows MS to have access to my medical records. If there is such a law I certainly do not approve – but I suspect this is just FUD.

    JackAbear Reply:

    The law is that if you accept by clicking the box you are accepting whatever slippery little words have been written in towards the end of the EULA and they automatically then become legal …. most usually quit reading after a couple of paragraphs, for example:

    1- I think that if anyone carefully reads the EULA before installing “Malicious Software Removal Tool” they will realize that clicking “I accept” gives a legal open back-door into your PC. But they do mention that your identity will not be compromised and the information they gather will not be used to identify you. Comforting isn’t it?….not to me!

    2- Has anyone out there EVER caught malwhare of any kind with malicious software removal tool… not very likely!
    yet there is an update every month. No one questions this?

    3- Try deleting MRT.exe from system 32, then when presented with the update try finding and checking the box “do not show this update again”(Box is not always showing, gotta be slick and clever here)
    you will find that whether you are using XP, XP64, vista or win 7 32/64, malicious software removal tool keeps showing up as an update needed warning, day after day regardless of the check box.

    4-My PC does work much better without it, as there is no longer that steady trickling of traffic in and out when I’m connected but not using any browser (just a few bites every few seconds, but that was very annoying to me.) Problem is all gone now! ( The EULA does not speak of this so I had to spend a couple of years(on and off) trying to figure out what was leaking out of my computer.
    Also, I didn’t even accept the Eula for MRT.exe in win 7…so why is it trying to install anyway?
    MY explanation is that it is possibly a front for illicit activity!!
    People should ask for their money back when the EULA is unacceptable. We should boycott these propitiatory softwares until they change their EULA to exclude snooping”…But better still, use open source.
    It punishes them right where it hurts!…. at the greed!

    Michael Reply:

    I’m sorry… what law was that again?

    LOL!

    Oh. You did not point to one.

    No: MS has no legal access to my medical records nor yours. This is just complete FUD.

    JackAbear Reply:

    Ok! agreed,
    there is certainly no law in the books in the sense that you are implying, but there is a binding contract most often allowing the software company to snoop, when you accept EULA as written.
    One would have to read and understand the EULA first in order to realize this of course.
    I just meant that a signed contract makes whatever is written within legal, even if it wasn’t read by you.
    But then, isn’t it “common LAW” that a signed contract is normaly legal and binding for both parties?
    Anyway I’m not a lawyer, just an old Jazz musicain, calling it the way I see it! And I though the article above was great and to the point
    cheers!

    Michael Reply:

    The article falsely claimed MS has a legal right to my medical records and yours.

    Complete FUD.

  2. twitter said,

    September 20, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Gravatar

    Glen Moody covers the flip side of this issue, institutional transparency.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Glyn is a gold mine of knowledge in this area. Thanks for the link to his thoughts.

    twitter Reply:

    I think people are starting to understand the power non free software has over them. Software’s owners are becoming more blatant in their EULA demands and attempt to normalize a complete lack of privacy but it’s not working. Even the “Open Source” crowd is starting to understand software in terms of power relationships rather than performance and partial transparency. Here’s an interesting story about OnStar where the vehicle owner wonders if OnStar will keep their word and quit spying.

What Else is New


  1. Links 7/12/2016: ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5, Ubuntu Touch OTA-14

    Links for the day



  2. The UPC Scam Part VII: A Fine Mess in the Making, as Nothing Can be Made of It Amid/After Brexit

    The final part in this multi-part series about UPC, which cannot be implemented in the UK as long as Brexit is on the agenda



  3. The UPC Scam Part VI: The Real Story Which People Missed Due to Puff Pieces Seeded by Battistelli-Bribed Media is That UPC Technically Cannot Come to the UK

    Another long installment in a multi-part series about UPC at times of post-truth Battistelli-led EPO, which pays the media to repeat the lies and pretend that the UPC is inevitable so as to compel politicians to welcome it regardless of desirability and practicability



  4. EPO Spiraling Down the Drain as Experienced Examiners and Judges Are Seemingly Being Replaced by Interns

    Implementing yet more of his terrible ideas and so-called 'reforms', Battistelli seems to be racing to the bottom of everything (patent quality, staff experience, labour rights, working conditions, access to justice etc.)



  5. A Lot of News From the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Today, With Some Important Decisions on Patents Coming Soon

    A roundup of today's outcomes from the US Supreme Court, which intends to review and decide on important patent cases



  6. In Historic Blow to Design Patents, Apple Loses to Samsung at the Supreme Court

    A $399 million judgment against Android devices from Samsung, with potential implications for other Android OEMs, is rejected by SCOTUS



  7. Good Riddance. Ray Niro is Dead.

    The infamous father of patent trolling is dead, so we need to remember his real legacy rather than rewrite his history to appease his rich relatives (enriched by destroying real companies)



  8. EPO Suicides Greater in Number Than is Widely Reported, Unjust System a Contributor to These

    The horrible regime of Benoît Battistelli has an enormous human toll (fatalities), far greater than the Office is willing to publicly acknowledge



  9. Lobbying Disguised as 'Reporting' by the Patent Microcosm, Which Wants More Patents and More Lawsuits (Lawyers Needed)

    A rebuttal to some new articles about patents, especially those that strive to increase patent-related activities (usually for personal gain)



  10. USPTO Echo Chamber That Lacks Actual Software Professionals Deciding on Patentability of Software

    A look at yesterday's "Roundtable on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility," which lacked involvement from those actually affected by patents rather than those who sell, trade, and exploit these



  11. More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft 'Joined' (Paid) the Linux Foundation

    A quick look at the past week's news and clues about Microsoft's (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)



  12. Heiko Maas, the SPD “Cash for Access” Affair, and Suspicions of Unwarranted Censorship at IP Kat (Again)

    Unsayable views or just a glitch? Readers of IP Kat express concern about a culture of censorship at IP Kat



  13. Endgame for Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Battistelli turns bad into worse by spitting on the very notion of accepting justice (from the highest court in The Hague or even the UN in this case)



  14. Les Échos Chamber: Having Corrupted the Media (With EPO Money), Battistelli Now Uses It for More UPC Propaganda

    The lies about the Unitary Patent are now being broadcast (Battistelli given the platform) by the publication that Battistelli pays



  15. Rumour: EPO in Berlin the Next Casualty of Battistelli's 'Reform' (Organisational Suicide Plan)

    Months after we learned that a former staff representative in Berlin had been dismissed we come across an anonymous claim that Berlin's 'branch' of the EPO will be folded onto Munich's



  16. Caricature: the Maas App

    The failure of Maas to even bother with regulation of Battistelli (among others) earns him this cartoon



  17. Links 5/12/2016: Linux 4.9 RC 8, DeepMind as FOSS

    Links for the day



  18. Leaked: Battistelli Acknowledges Bunk 'Justice' in About 100 Cases at the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO

    A look at Battistelli's response to the latest from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), exceptionally delivering two decisions at the very end of last month



  19. The UPC Scam Part V: Unitary Patent Regime a Fantasy of Patent Trolls

    "Good for trolls" is a good way to sum up the Unitary Patent, which would give litigators plenty of business (defendants and plaintiffs, plus commissions on high claims of damages) if it ever became a reality



  20. EPO at a Tipping Point: Battistelli Quarrelling With French Politicians, Administrative Council Urged to Act, Staff Unrest Peaking

    The latest messages about Battistelli's regime at the EPO, which faces growing opposition from more directions than ever before



  21. Quality of Patents at the EPO Dependent on the Appeal Boards When Battistelli Assesses Performance Using the Wrong 'Production' Yardstick

    A look at some recent articles regarding patent quality in the US and in Europe, in particular because of growing trouble at today's EPO, which marginalises the appeal boards



  22. Microsoft's Push for Software Patents Another Reminder That There is No 'New' Microsoft

    Microsoft's continued fascination with and participation in the effort to undermine Alice so as to make software patents, which the company uses to blackmail GNU/Linux vendors, widely acceptable and applicable again



  23. Links 5/12/2016: SparkyLinux 4.5 Released, Kondik Exits Cyanogen (Destroyed After Microsoft Deal)

    Links for the day



  24. Software Patents Continue Their Invalidation Process, But Patent Law Firms Try to Deny This in Order to Attract Misinformed (or Poorly-Informed) Clients

    A roundup of news about software patents and demonstration of the sheer bias in the media, which is mostly controlled or steered by the patent microcosm rather than actual inventors



  25. Patent Trolls of Microsoft and Ericsson Are Trying to Tax Everything, Especially Linux Devices

    An update on Intellectual Ventures and Unwired Planet, whose operations pose a growing problem for Free software and Linux-based products (e.g. Android)



  26. Asia's Patent Litigation Chaos Getting Worse, Reaching Countries in the West, and Sites Like IAM Actively Promote This

    The race to the bottom (of patent quality) in China, the growth of patent trolls in the region, and the ruinous litigation strategy which now spills over even to the US -- through the Eastern District of Texas -- and may inevitably come to Europe (especially if the UPC ever becomes a reality)



  27. More French Politicians Are Complaining That Benoît Battistelli is a Disgrace to France and Urge for Action

    The backlash against Battistelli spills well outside the EPO and is now apparent even at the French National Assembly



  28. Links 3/12/2016: Mageia 5.1 Released, Mozilla Revenue at $421.3M

    Links for the day



  29. Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) Sees Decline in Patent Applications and It May Actually be a Good Thing

    Challenging the false belief that the more patents society has the better off it will be, citing examples and news from north America



  30. Blockchain Domain Infested With Software Patents, MasterCard Among the Culprits

    Worrying signs that an area of Free/Open Source software innovation is getting impacted by the plague of software patents


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts