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08.18.19

Openwashing Report: It’s Getting Worse, Fast. Everything is Apparently ‘Open’ Now Even Though It’s Actually Proprietary.

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: The latest examples (this past week’s) of openwashing in the media, ranging from 5G to surveillance

THE “Openwashing Reports” started last weekend. It was conceived after a reader had sent us feedback (thanks, Christine!) and we hope we can keep it up for years to come. These reports address the growing problem which is the ‘cheapening’ of the term “Open Source” or even the framing of proprietary software as “Open”. OSI isn’t doing anything about it and if nothing gets done (e.g. public shaming at the very least), things will only get worse.

“OSI isn’t doing anything about it and if nothing gets done (e.g. public shaming at the very least), things will only get worse.”We start this report with Datical and Liquibase. We mentioned this last week in passing and days ago Datical was said to be “Furthering Ongoing Commitment to Open Source Community for Database Change” (headline).

What the heck does that even mean? It’s a cheap openwashing stunt. They speak of “community” or “commitment” and “Open Source”. Whose? Not theirs.

More troubling a case of openwashing was this bunch of “Open 5G” “Ecosystems” nonsense from Forbes (a propaganda rag of oligarchs). The press has been openwashing 5G for about a year and it’s doing it again, never mind if 5G is strictly proprietary with additional patent traps (evergreening). Even the so-called ‘standards’ aren’t open. There’s nothing “open” about it and words like “Ecosystems” (in the headline above) are a bit like greenwashing. We expect to see a lot more openwashing such as this; we’ve seen it for months already and pointed this out in our daily links.

“Are they trying to pass off 5G as “Open Source”? Great openwashing right there by surveillance companies.”Telecom openwashing doesn’t quite stop at 5G hype — a curious wave of hype that has already earned notoriety (it’s basically marketing disguised as reporting). Days ago we saw AT&T openwashing and this is noteworthy because of the company’s notorious secrecy (this company is the foremost partner of the NSA in the telecom space, based on several whistleblowers). Dallas Business Journal published this puff piece, reducible to megaphone/loudspeaker of AT&T staff. There was also RCR Wireless News with another puff piece (“Open-source ’5G software infrastructure’ focus of Dell, AT&T partnership”). What on Earth? Are they trying to pass off 5G as “Open Source”? Great openwashing right there by surveillance companies. Truly gross to think it was published to say: “AT&T continues to expand its parnterships with cloud specialists, now working with Dell Technologies to explore open source opportunities for 5G.”

They don’t mean Open Source. Here’s the original press release that it’s apparently based on. The openwashing stunt has a misleading headline which refers to “Open Source Edge Computing”; based on the body it is just “open infrastructure technology,” which is more or less meaningless. “Dell Technologies and AT&T* are jointly exploring the development of key open infrastructure technology areas for the next-generation network edge that will be required by service providers to support new use cases and service opportunities in a cloud-oriented 5G world,” it says.

Whatever “open infrastructure” means…

FierceTelecom joined in, triumphing or championing what it called “open source project” (in the headline even!) and to quote: “Dell Technologies is joining the Airship open infrastructure project, which has been spearheaded by AT&T…”

How did they move from “open infrastructure project” to “open source project” in the headline? It’s either dishonest or grossly negligible. It means that people who look for actual “Open Source” will be bombarded with ‘fakes’ like the above. We’re sadly seeing such stuff every week.

“So they published some code developed ‘in-house’ and now they proudly herald/advertise themselves as “good open source citizens” for ‘good measure’…”Here’s a new example of gross, crude and ridiculous openwashing of eBay, whose entire business is proprietary software with malicious elements like surveillance and blacklisting. The stack they use (not their work) may contain software such as Linux, but just about everything they do and make is proprietary. But “eBay has open sourced software designed to solve the problem of getting multiple servers to agree on a shared state even in the face of failures,” says the openwashing piece. So they published some code developed ‘in-house’ and now they proudly herald/advertise themselves as “good open source citizens” for ‘good measure’…

Maybe less than 1% of their codebase is “open”!

By criteria such as these, almost every company is now “Open” (even when it’s not and even when it actively attacks “Open”; proprietary software fiends pretend to be what they attack).

Now check out the latest propaganda of Salesforce. Its openwashing spam is a “contributed” PR piece about “open platforms” (whatever that means). GovTech, an influential site, published it to say:

Open platforms can provide states and localities with several advantages. They are typically cloud-based, with the underlying infrastructure and source code managed by the platform provider. This lowers the cost and maintenance burdens on IT shops who can reduce the number of patching and upgrade cycles, and scale up or down as needed without the worry of managing capital IT infrastructure.

Open platforms can also enable IT teams with limited expertise to develop and deploy advanced applications through simple, no-code/low-code capabilities. This provides IT staff with the software “building blocks” to create applications with minimal coding, and help those agencies facing shortages in personnel who are adept at application development. That said, open platforms frequently offer toolkits with more advanced capabilities, so more tech-savvy users can benefit as well.

[...]

Tommie Fern is vice president of sales for State and Local Government Public Sector Business Unit at Salesforce.

This guy pushes surveillance and proprietary software into the public sector. It’s proprietary, but they call it “open platforms”. How much more distortion can the word “open” endure?

“So one who looks for “Open Source” news gets loads of search results about companies that aren’t.”And speaking of supposedly “open platforms” with surveillance, how about Facebook? It’s pushing React Native, its own controversial ‘standard’, so ComputerWeekly decided to chip in with some PR. The so-called “Open Source Insider” (he no longer publishes his name) helps Facebook with this openwashing stunt. It’s that same old openwashing of surveillance operations. “Now open sourced by Facebook under an MIT licence, Hermes is supposed to supercharge startup times, drain less memory and result in a smaller overall application code footprint,” it says. Another new openwashing puff piece of Facebook came from Wired a few days ago.

Just amazing. So one who looks for “Open Source” news gets loads of search results about companies that aren’t. Openwashing plus googlebombing equals cheap whitewashing (reputation laundering/marketing).

How about the openwashing of RideOS (a surveillance network for passengers)? Linux.com participated in this openwashing about a week ago. Is there source code? Well, there’s an API:

Ridehail API and open source mobile apps are designed to empower companies to build and manage their own ride-hailing network.

“OS” in RideOS stands not for Open Source, but nowadays everything gets called “open-source” or “open” or “Open Source”…

“”OS” in RideOS stands not for Open Source, but nowadays everything gets called “open-source” or “open” or “Open Source”…”The propaganda of proprietary software giants would have us believe malicious secret code is “open”.

Here’s another new example, one where “OpenChain” actually refers to specs (an “OpenChain Specification.”). Well, an ‘open spec’ is not Open Source. It’s just misleading.

How about this new one from Container Journal? We have cloudwashing and openwashing here (“Open Server” and “Cloud Service” and “Ecosystem”, so arguably greenwashing too). It’s about CNCF, part of the Linux Foundation. To quote:

The Open Service Broker API specification is the product of a collaboration by Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Pivotal, Red Hat and SAP. The goal of the project is to develop a standardized approach for connecting services to container orchestration platforms and cloud-native applications. At the same time, open service brokers are rapidly becoming a critical capability that cloud service providers are now all but assumed to possess.

The word “open” is used spuriously here; but it’s not about code. It takes some research, it takes a lot of time (checking whether something is really Open Source or just openwashing as a marketing opportunity), but once you manage to decipher a project’s or a company’s status it rarely changes thereafter. If they’re faking it, they’ll likely fake it for years to come (if they survive that long).

We’ve meanwhile also noticed this new article from App Developer Magazine, a relatively large site with high reach. How did this article turn “leading cloud computing luminary” (i.e. a surveillance computing trap) into “Open Source expert” (in the headline)? Someone has just “joined Armory as vice president of open source and developer relations.”

“Get your optics ready because what’s nowadays being called “Open Source” has neither open nor source.”The person’s background however in no way supports the label “Open Source expert”; it’s someone who worked for CNCF (the above) as a marketer. To quote them: “Kumar was most recently the VP of product marketing and developer relations at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), the home of Kubernetes (arguably one of the most impactful open source projects in cloud computing).”

So apparently being in marketing makes one an “Open Source expert”. Whatever… we all know that the Linux Foundation is more or less a marketing front anyway. They do marketing for proprietary software firms for the most part; those are their sponsors and the motto is, “the sponsor is always right!”

Welcome to 2019. 2020 vision coming soon. Get your optics ready because what’s nowadays being called “Open Source” has neither open nor source. It’s just a marketing label like “dolphin-safe”.

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