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 24/10/2014: Microsoft Tax Axed in Italy, Google's Linux (ChromeOS/Android) Leader Promoted

    Links for the day



  2. Links 24/10/2014: GNU/Linux History, Fedora Delay

    Links for the day



  3. Links 23/10/2014: New *buntu, Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  4. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  5. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  6. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  7. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  8. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  9. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  10. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  11. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  12. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents



  13. Is It Google's Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

    The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests



  14. The EPO's Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

    Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO's management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO's management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time



  15. Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

    Links for the day



  16. Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

    Links for the day



  17. Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

    Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court



  18. Links 16/10/2014: New Android, SSL 3.0 Flaw

    Links for the day



  19. How the Corporate Press Deceives and Sells Microsoft Agenda

    Various new examples of media propaganda that distorts or makes up the facts (bias/lies by omission/selection) and where this is all coming from



  20. Vista 10 is Still Vapourware, But We Already Know It Will Increase Surveillance on Its Users and Contain Malicious Back Doors

    The villainous company which makes insecure-by-design operating systems will continue to do so, but in the mean time the corporate press covers only bugs in FOSS, not back doors in proprietary software



  21. Links 15/10/2014: KDE Plasma 5.1 is Out, GOG Reaches 100-Title Mark

    Links for the day



  22. With .NET Foundation Affiliation Xamarin is Another Step Closer to Being Absorbed by Microsoft

    Xamarin is not even trying to pretend that separation exists between Microsoft and its work; yet another collaboration is announced



  23. The EPO's Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

    Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public



  24. Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

    It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States' USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?



  25. Links 14/10/2014: CAINE 6, New RHEL, Dronecode

    Links for the day



  26. Microsoft's Disdain for Women Steals the Show at a Women's Event

    Steve Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella, is still too tactless to lie to the audience, having been given --through subversive means -- a platform at a conference that should have shunned Microsoft, a famously misogynistic company



  27. SCOTUS May Soon Put an End to the 'Copyrights on APIs' Question While Proprietary Giants Continue to Harass Android/Linux in Every Way Conceivable

    Google takes its fight over API freedom to the Supreme Court in the Unites States and it also takes that longstanding patent harassment from the Microsoft- and Apple-backed troll (Rockstar) out of East Texas



  28. Patent Lawsuits Almost Halved After SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Software Patents

    The barrier for acceptance of software patent applications is raised in the United States and patent lawsuits, many of which involve software these days, are down very sharply, based on new figures from Lex Machina



  29. Links 13/10/2014: ChromeOS and EXT, Debian Resists Systemd Domination

    Links for the day



  30. Links 12/10/2014: Blackphone Tablet, Sony's Firefox OS Port

    Links for the day


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