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05.28.19

Linux Foundation and the Big Surveillance Industry, Media Industry, Microsoft Azure

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, OSDL at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

James Clapper

Summary: The Linux Foundation has become a complex creature with intricate corporate ties and government ties as well (especially the US government); these relationships need to be better understood

IT HAS BEEN a while since we last wrote about the Linux Foundation. We habitually post links to news about it (in our daily links), but we haven’t had time to write articles on the subject. Partly because affairs at the European Patent Office (EPO) are heating up again, culminating in a likely strike next month.

“That undoubtedly disputes claims that the PAC exists merely to pay Mr. Torvalds his salary.”Quite a few things have happened at Zemlin’s PAC this past month. First of all, we came to discover that Amanda McPherson no longer works there. She was receiving about as much money (salary at around half a million dollars per year) as Linus Torvalds. For marketing. That undoubtedly disputes claims that the PAC exists merely to pay Mr. Torvalds his salary. More curious, however, is the background of her successor/replacement. It’s a former spokesperson of James Clapper, best known for lying and perjury (he is deeply connected to Edward Snowden’s employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, and US spying operations at a Federal level too, but to the public he is known as a famous liar because the media focused on it for years). About a week ago the somewhat crypic press release (lacking context) revealed that Huawei connections got the PAC in trouble with the US government, which possibly put direct pressure on the PAC. Here’s how this press release started: “Thank you for your inquiry regarding concerns with a member subject to an Entity List Ruling.[1] While statements in the Executive Order prompting the listing used language granting a broader scope of authority, the Huawei Entity List ruling was specifically scoped to activities and transactions subject to the Export Administration Regulation (EAR).”

Who did the Linux Foundation speak to when it said “Thank you for your inquiry regarding concerns with a member subject to an Entity List Ruling”?

Did some fellow members complain? The final words: “If there is a unique situation of concern, we encourage you to reach out directly to legal@linuxfoundation.org.”

Earlier today we wrote about the increasing likelihood of China's adoption of GNU/Linux at a much larger scale. What might the US government do next? It certainly has a lot of control over the PAC and ways to punish/blackmail it (e.g. removal of the non-profit status or revocation of licence to operate).

This post is a bit of a preview or a look behind the scenes; it’s the subject of ongoing research into the PAC’s strands of work, including the new initiative for “surveillance capitalism” in an ‘urban’ context (companies like Uber and Google, along with “smart cities” and “edge”). We posted many links about this in recent days, weeks and even months (when it was first announced with little additional details). We are also studying the PAC’s media ties (connections to external sites), which do exist but are difficult to decipher (especially money flow, if any, not just staff moves that are simpler to detect). More about training partners ought to be known too; it’s no secret that the PAC nowadays promotes Microsoft Azure at some capacity.

“There are many interests and various powerful corporations in the mix; it’s only rational to attempt to figure out what they want and what they do to their PAC.”We are still not sure why McPherson left (or was pushed out) and Clapper’s former spokesperson became the Linux Foundation’s. McPherson seems to be working in academia now; some colleagues of hers (also alumni of the PAC) moved to media companies. There’s growing suspicion and some evidence of a connection. The Linux Foundation (LF) links to sites of its alumni and these alumni, in turn, write many articles about Linux Foundation projects and sponsors. “I’m trying to find out why the push for Yocto,” one reader told us, “what push does LF have with members for involvement with these projects no one uses? The recent Forbes article about Clear Linux… is that paid for too? The push to use LF projects by partners/members, I guess is understandable. Buying magazine space to promote… seems shady. Need facts.”

We are certainly going to write more about these subjects in weeks or months to come. We also depend on readers’ input, however meager, so we welcome feedback if not leaks (the latter is rare). There are many interests and various powerful corporations in the mix; it’s only rational to attempt to figure out what they want and what they do to their PAC. Microsoft is only one of several [1, 2], so it would be wrong to focus only on this one company.

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