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 24/8/2016: More From LinuxCon, Uganda Wants FOSS

    Links for the day



  2. Links 23/8/2016: GNOME 3.22 Beta, Android 7.0 Nougat

    Links for the day



  3. The Linux Foundation Gives Microsoft (Paid-for) Keynote Position While Microsoft Extorts (With Patents) Lenovo and Motorola Over Linux Use

    This morning's reminder that Nadella is just another Ballmer (with a different face); Motorola and Lenovo surrender to Microsoft's patent demands and will soon put Microsoft spyware/malware on their Linux-powered products to avert costly legal battles



  4. Not Just President Battistelli: EPO Vice-Presidents Are Still Intentionally Misrepresenting EPO Staff

    Evidence serving to show that EPO Vice-Presidents are still intentionally misrepresenting EPO staff representatives and misleading everyone in order to defend Battistelli



  5. Battistelli the Liar Causes a Climate of Confrontation in French Politics, Lies About Patent Quality (Among Many Other Things)

    Battistelli's lies are coming under increased scrutiny inside and outside the European Patent Office (EPO), where patent quality has been abandoned in order to artificially elevate figures



  6. The Collapse of Software Patents and Patent Law Firms Trying to “Overcome” Alice

    The United States continues its gradual crackdown on software patents (which are viewed as abstract and thus unpatentable), whereas in Europe things are murkier than ever



  7. Apple's Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

    Apple's insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns



  8. Links 22/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC3, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” KDE Beta

    Links for the day



  9. Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

    Links for the day



  10. Links 20/8/2016: Android Domination, FSFE summit 2016

    Links for the day



  11. Patents Roundup: Trolls Dominate Litigation, PTAB Crushes Patents, Patent Box Regime Persists, and OIN Explains Itself

    Another roundup of patent news from around the Web with special focus on software patenting



  12. The Cost/Toll of the 'New' EPO and Where All That Money Goes or Comes From

    The European Patent Office has become a servant of the rich and powerful (including large foreign corporations) and even its own employees now pay the price associated with misguided new policies (or 'reforms' as Battistelli habitually refers to these)



  13. Links 19/8/2016: Linux Mint With KDE, Linux Foundation's PNDA

    Links for the day



  14. The End of an Era at the USPTO as Battistelli-Like (EPO) Granting Policies Are Over

    The United States is seeing the potency of patents -- especially software patents (which make up much of the country's troll cases) -- challenged by courts and by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)



  15. Battistelli's European Patent Office Goes to the United States to Speak About the UPC and Software Patents

    The European Patent Office is showing its utter contempt -- not just disregard -- for the very fundamental rules that put it in its place and brought it into existence



  16. Turkey Subjected to the European Patent Convention (EPC) But Benoît Battistelli is Not?

    The ‘constitutional crisis’ at the European Patent Office in the context of Turkey, which has signed "the EPC and as such recognises the competence and the decisions of the institutions which have been introduced in the convention."



  17. Links 18/8/2016: EFF Slams Vista 10, Linux Foundation Makes PNDA

    Links for the day



  18. Links 17/8/2016: GNOME and Debian Anniversaries

    Links for the day



  19. Personal Audio LLC and Patent Troll Jim Logan Demonstrate the Harms of Software Patents and Why They Must Never Spread to Europe

    Jim Logan of Personal Audio (a notorious Texas-based patent troll) is still fighting with his bogus patent, having already caused enormous damage with a single software patent that should never have been granted in the first place (due to prior art, not just Alice)



  20. The Patent Microcosm Hopes That the Originators of Software Patents Will Undermine the Patent Trial and Appeal Board

    Now that the actions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which have been consistently upheld by the CAFC in precedential decisions, are suddenly being questioned the patent microcosm gets all giddy and tries to undermine PTAB (again)



  21. That Time When the Administrative Council Helped Battistelli Crush Oversight (Audit Committee) and What ILO Said About It a Month Ago

    Things are becoming ever more troublesome at the EPO as the Administrative Council enjoys inaction from the International Labour Organization (ILO), in spite of its role in destroying much-needed oversight at the behest of Battistelli



  22. The EPO's Administrative Council Keeps Postponing Debate About Grounds for Firing the President

    A recollection of events prior to the latest Administrative Council meeting, where Benoît Battistelli's failings and accountability for failing to correct them never even came up



  23. A Surge of Staff Complaints About the European Patent Office Drowns the System, Disservice to Justice Noted

    Self-explanatory graphs about the state of the justice [sic] system which is prejudiced towards/against EPO workers, based on internal reports



  24. Links 16/8/2016: White House Urged by EFF on FOSS, Go 1.7 Released

    Links for the day



  25. Links 15/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC2, Glimpses at OpenMandriva Lx 3.0

    Links for the day



  26. Clawing Back the Staff Benefits at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Staff of the EPO is leaving (or retiring) in droves as abusive management continues to be the norm and staff benefits are being taken away or gradually revoked



  27. The Patent Microcosm is Panicking and Spinning Alice/§ 101 Because US Software Patents Are Still Dying

    A look at recent developments in the software patents scene in the United States, with increased focus on (or fear of) the Patent Trial and Appeal Board



  28. 21,000 Posts in Techrights in Less Than a Decade

    This post is the 21,000th post and the next one will make it more than twenty-one thousand posts in total. We are turning 10 in November.



  29. Patent Microcosm Shuts Out the Poor: Unified Patent Court (UPC) Promotion by Practising Law Institute (PLI) Only for the Wealthy

    The people who are profiting from patent feuds, disputes, lawsuits etc. are still trying to muscle their will into European law and they keep the general public out of it by locking down (or pricing out of reach) their meetings where they influence/lobby decision-making officials



  30. The United States Has a Growing Patent Trolls Epidemic as Very High Proportion of Lawsuits Filed by Them

    A look at the high proportion of patent lawsuits that are filed by entities that make nothing at all and thus serve no role whatsoever in innovation


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