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

11.21.13

Richard Stallman Explains ‘Hacking’ to Judge

Posted in FSF at 2:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman
By NicoBZH from Saint Etienne

Summary: Richard Stallman writes a letter to Judge Preska, whose prosecution against (and demonisation of) Jeremy Hammond shows a common misunderstanding/misconception

ON A COUPLE of occasions last week (and on other occasions quite recently) we wrote about the Hammond trial [1, 2], which oddly enough had appointed as its judge the spouse of a Stratfor client. Here’s Richard Stallman’s letter, which was quoted by a news site [1] the other day:

Dear Judge Preska
I’ve been proud to call myself a hacker since 1971. That’s when I was
hired by the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab to join the team that
developed the lab’s operating systems — for which the unofficial job
title was “system hacker”. My subsequent hacking career has included
developing the GNU operating system, which is often erroneously called
“Linux”, and the legal hack of “copyleft” which uses copyright law to
ensure that all users of a program are free to redistribute it and
change it. I’ve received numerous awards and doctorates for my
hacking, and have been invited twice to publish articles in law
reviews.

Being a hacker means practicing and enjoying playful cleverness. (See
stallman.org/articles/on-hacking.html.) It does not particularly have
to do with breaking security. Indeed, no one ever broke security on
the AI lab’s system, because we decided not to implement any.

That decision, made by the original team members who became my
mentors, was not taken lightly: it was the result of careful political
and philosophical thought. Instead of keeping most users (those
without “privileges” — which already sounds like a prison) shackled
so that they could not hurt each other, we thought the lab members and
guest users could learn to get along as a community, choosing not to
hurt each other. And they did!

This example is not unusual for hackers. From the beginning, hackers’
taste for playful cleverness has often gone along with a sense of
social responsibility, concern for others’ well-being. Jeremy Hammond
is a fine example of a socially responsible hacker. He found a clever
way to expose the many nefarious deeds that Stratfor was planning and
proposing.

People should not be allowed to enter others’ computers without
permission; but when punishing someone for virtual trespassing, we
ought to consider his motive. Those who trespass as part of a
nonviolent protest, either physically or virtually, should not receive
severe punishments. Those who act neither for gain nor for malice
should not receive severe punishments. Imagine where our country
would be if the civil rights and antiwar sit-ins had been punished by
years in prison! If we do not want the US to be like Putin’s Russia,
imposing long sentences on protesters, we must steer clear of doing
so. That applies to virtual protests as well as physical ones.

I therefore respectfully suggest that Hammond be sentenced to
community service. To make use of his skills and abilities, this
service could consist of helping nonprofit organizations protect their
personal data.
Sincerely,
Richard Stallman
Lead developer of the GNU system (gnu.org)
President, Free Software Foundation (fsf.org)
MacArthur Fellow
Internet hall-of-famer (internethalloffame.org)

Stallman helped create what many of us call “Linux” now. He also fought for civil rights in the digital age, including privacy (see this article from October [2]). Thanks to GNU, which he founded 30 years ago, we now have Octave [3] (which I used a lot for work) and GCC (which a lot of companies use all the time). The latter project is still a leading example of GNU’s huge impact (see news in [4,5]) and despite Java’s advantages [6] GCC is walking away from it [7], probably due to Oracle’s behaviour.

Without GCC, where would C and C++ be today? It is rather sad that the biggest innovators are being characterised as criminals in the corporate media, whereas the biggest criminals are being portrayed as saints, heroes, and sometimes innovators too.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Here’s Richard Stallman’s letter to Stratfor hacker’s judge demanding lesser sentence

    Foundation president Richard Stallman tried to get Stratfor hacker Jeremy Hammond’s judge to only hand down a community service sentence. Hammond, instead, received 10 years in jail today.

    Stallman provided VentureBeat with his letter in full, which you can find below.

  2. GNU’s novel proposal: A cloud that puts privacy first

    As Richard Stallman’s GNU Project turns 30, the Free Software Foundation aims for a cloud that foils state-sponsored snooping

  3. GNU Octave – a Great Time Saver

    Finding the best way to process your data can be complicated. I recently became involved in a project where I needed to filter out data from an RF signal. Because I am not an RF designer with years of experience, I actually had to do a bit of reinventing the wheel. With a recording of data in hand, one option was to try and feed that data into a microcontroller, write up some test code, and then analyze the results. Another option was to use GNU Octave.

    GNU Octave is a MATLAB-type environment that allows for numerical simulation. Information about the history of GNU Octave can be found here. MATLAB is an interpreted language that is coupled with the program by the same name. The main difference between MATLAB and GNU Octave is that MATLAB costs many thousands of dollars, whereas GNU Octave is an open-source program.

  4. Intel Cilk Plus Support Continues For GCC
  5. GCC 4.9 Continues Piling On New Features
  6. Surprise! Java is fastest for server-side Web apps

    In benchmarks, Java-based frameworks enjoy a big performance lead

  7. GCC Looks To Turn Off Java, Replace With Go Or ADA

    GCC developers from multiple companies are beginning to reach agreement that it’s time for Java to be turned off by default in GCC. The Java compiler support in GCC is in the form of GCJ, but it doesn’t see much active development these days with more of the Java work happening in OpenJDK. Developers are looking to disable Java from the default GCC build process but to potentially replace it with the Go or ADA languages.

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

What Else is New


  1. Links 27/7/2014: KDE 4.14 Beta 3, KDE 4.14 Beta 3 Released

    Links for the day



  2. Apple and Microsoft Are Proprietary Software Companies and the Media Should Stop Openwashing Them

    New examples where proprietary software giants are characterised as FOSS-embracing and FOSS-friendly by gullible or dishonest 'journalists'



  3. Bloomberg's Microsoft Propaganda

    Bloomberg delivers 'damage control' and PR ahead of the layoffs announcement; Microsoft uses Nokia to hide it and Bloomberg helps Microsoft by radically modifying headlines



  4. Frequency of Browser Back Doors in Microsoft Windows is Doubling

    The vulnerabilities which Microsoft tells the NSA about (before these are patched) are significantly growing in terms of their numbers



  5. FUD Entities Entering the FOSS World

    Symantec enters the AllSeen Alliance and Sonatype is once again trying to claim great insecurity in FOSS due to software licensing



  6. Groklaw Back in the Wake of ODF in the UK?





  7. Links 26/7/2014: New Wine, Chromebooks Strong Sales

    Links for the day



  8. Links 25/7/2014: GOG With GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS

    Links for the day



  9. Links 24/7/2014: Oracle Linux 7; Fedora Delays

    Links for the day



  10. Valerie Strauss Explains Why Gates Foundation's Lobbying for 'Common Core' (Privatisation) is a Swindle That Makes Microsoft Richer

    Continued criticism of the Gates Foundation's lobbying and masquerading, with more journalists brave enough to highlight the corruption



  11. USPTO Officially Sets New Guidelines to Limit Scope of Software Patents in the United States

    Even patent lawyers finally acknowledge that the incentive to file software patent applications has been reduced, as the scope of patents on software has been noticeably narrowed and they are harder to acquire, let alone enforce in a courtroom



  12. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards

    Only "Microsoft as the standard" is the 'standard' Microsoft is willing to accept, as its response to the Cabinet Office's judgment reveals



  13. Microsoft Layoffs of 2014

    Another quick look at Microsoft's horrible state of affairs and why it has virtually nothing to do with Nokia



  14. Links 22/7/2014: Linux 3.16 RC 6, New UberStudent

    Links for the day



  15. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  16. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  17. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  18. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  19. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  20. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  21. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  22. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  23. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  24. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  25. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  26. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at Microsoft



  27. Secrecy Allows British Government to be Manipulated by Microsoft for Spyware Behind Closed Doors

    Dependence on malicious software from NSA ally Microsoft is highly dependent, at least in Britain, on government secrecy and vain refusal to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests



  28. Software Patent Applications Already Being Rejected in the US Owing to SCOTUS Ruling, Some Patent Lawyers Are Fuming

    Good news on the software patents front as the USPTO starts rejecting software patent applications, based on patent lawyers' words



  29. Links 15/7/2014: New Plasma, Google Announces Project Zero

    Links for the day



  30. Interest in Free Software Coverage and 9 Months With Tux Machines

    Thoughts about the level of interest in Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and growth of at least some sites that focus on GNU/Linux


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