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 18/1/2017: Red Hat's OpenShift 3.4, Mozilla's New Logo/Branding

    Links for the day



  2. Union-Busting Action by Team Battistelli Takes Heavy Toll, Techrights Will Continue to Expose EPO Injustices to the World

    The Staff Union of the European Patent Office, SUEPO, which faced unprecedented and probably illegal (based on local laws) attacks, is being weakened by the worst President ever, whose own management team seems to be collapsing along with the institution he is destroying in just a few years



  3. A Lot More Fake News About the UPC, Trying to Convince People That the UK is Ratifying (It's Not, It Cannot)

    Response to some of the latest misleading (self-serving) whispers about the fate of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is in a deadlock due to Brexit



  4. Rumours Suggest That EPO Management is Aware of Decline in Patent Quality and is Thus Actively Lying About it to the Media/Public

    Whenever Battistelli brags about patent quality he may be consciously and deliberately lying through his teeth if the latest rumours are correct



  5. Links 17/1/2017: GIMP Plans, New Raspberry Pi Product

    Links for the day



  6. Resumption of EPO Propaganda ('Meet the President') Officially Starts Tomorrow

    Yet another one of these foolish 'Meet the President' stunts, scheduled to take place tomorrow morning



  7. Caricature: Battistelli's New Year's Resolution (More EPO Lies)

    The latest cartoon being circulated within the European Patent Office (EPO)



  8. Donald Trump Gives New Hope to Patent Aggressors and Patent Trolls

    Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism



  9. More Fake News About the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Based on Lobbying Tactics From Bristows UPC and the Preparatory Committee

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) lobbying has gotten so bad that it now infiltrates general media outlets, where people are asked to just blindly assume that the UPC is coming and is inevitable, even though it's clearly in a limbo and is unlikely to see the light of day



  10. EPO Totally Silent for a Month, But Deep Inside There Are Serious Cracks

    The situation at the EPO seems to be pretty grim, even at the top-level management, and the EPO has gone into permanent silence mode



  11. Links 16/1/2017: Linux 4.10 RC4, Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' KDE Edition Beta

    Links for the day



  12. 'Financial Director' Publishes Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Response to some of the latest UPC propaganda, which strives to misinform Financial Directors so as to enrich the author and his firm



  13. Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

    Commentary about news sources that we rely on, as well as the known pitfalls or the vested interests deeply ingrained in them



  14. The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing

    Significant demise or total catastrophe for the modus operandi (method) of going after companies with a pile of patents and threats of litigation



  15. US Supreme Court Did Not End Apple's Patent Disputes Over Android (Linux), More Cases Imminent

    An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility



  16. Links 15/1/2017: Switching From OS X to GNU/Linux, Debian 8.7 Released

    Links for the day



  17. Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls

    Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform



  18. America Invents Act Improved Patent Quality, But Right Wingers Threaten to Make It Worse Again

    The past half a decade saw gradual improvement in assessment of patents in the United States, but there is a growing threat and pressure from the patent microcosm to restore patent maximalism and chaos



  19. PTAB -- Not Deterred by Courts -- Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to make progress reforming the patent system by eliminating a lot of patents and setting an example (or new standards) for what is patent-eligible after Alice



  20. EPO Abuses Come Under Fire From Politicians in Luxembourg

    Luxembourg is the latest nation in which concerns about the EPO's serious abuses are brought up not only by the media but also by politicians



  21. Constitutionality as a Barrier and Brexit Barriers to UPC Keep the Whole Pipe Dream Deadlocked

    The UPC is still going nowhere fast, but the demise (or death) of the UPC as we know it must not be taken for granted



  22. Links 14/1/2017: Wine 2.0 RC5 and AryaLinux 2017 Released

    Links for the day



  23. Links 13/1/2017: Linux 4.9.3 and Linux 4.4.42

    Links for the day



  24. Brexit Means No UPC (Unified Patent Court)

    Now that Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson's brother, is officially declared the new minister for intellectual property in the UK everything that Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote is as solid as paper bag on a rainy London day



  25. Patent Trolls and Software Patents: CloudTrade, Patent Practitioners Density, and Via Licensing

    Software patents armament from a British company, charted concentration of the patent microcosm in the United States, and US-leaning patent trolls that prey on China



  26. Patent Maximalism -- Like Copyright Maximalism -- Relies on Misconceptions and Mass Deception

    The latest examples of discussions about patent scope, courtesy of those looking to benefit financially by pushing such monopolies to the max



  27. Software Patents Still Promoted by IBM and Its Lobbyist (and Former Employee) David Kappos, in Defiance of Much-Needed US Patent Reform

    While the corporate media celebrates IBM as though it's some kind of 'champion' for hoarding patents that it then uses to attack companies which actually grow



  28. Brexit/Trump Effect: Patent Systems With Institutional Corruption and Nepotism

    Rumours about Britain's head of patents (and copyrights etc.) being the brother of the Brexit campaigner and Foreign Minister; meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, rumours suggest that the corrupt judge Rader might be the next head of patents in the United States



  29. Links 11/1/2017: X.Org Server 1.19.1, GitHub's Atom 1.13

    Links for the day



  30. The Patent Microcosm is Already Sucking up to Donald Trump in an Effort to Enrich Itself at Everyone's Expense

    Four new examples of patent maximalists embracing/adopting the pseudo-populist slogan to advance their goals of increasing litigation (which they profit from) and undermining PTAB (which made patents great in the quality sense)


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