05.13.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Andrew Lee of Private Internet Access/London Trust Media Increasingly Owns and Controls Freenode (Updatedx2)

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 1:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There are also links to the GNOME Foundation

Andrew Lee's GNOME interview

Andrew Lee of PIA

Andrew Lee Crunchbase

Andrew Lee PIA

Summary: The details about Freenode ownership and control (VPN millionaire) are explained in a resignation letter urging users to move to another network

We recently wrote about issues at Freenode. It was about censorship for the most part. Well, according to this resignation letter, reproduced below in full, Freenode is partly or entirely owned by PIA, or the same folks who abandoned Linux Journal. Based on the wording in the letter, we can guess that there are gag orders of some kind, likely some legal action, and it does not say if this is a privacy or a censorship issue (or both). I was recently told they were censoring some users because of their Debian derivatives being created, but I’ve kept things sufficiently vague to avoid mentioning the names of individuals. The letter below does mention some people, even by full name:

Dear freenode users and projects, 

I joined freenode staff a bit more than 10 years ago, after having used 
the network for already roughly 5 years by that time. 
During this time, I enjoyed supporting our communities in various roles;
I met some of you through first level support, 
through my work for the groups team or due infra work. 

I still think that freenode as a network is a great idea,
and offers projects and groups of any size a possibility to collaborate,
coordinate or just chat freely and for free. 

Since these early times, freenode changed form a couple of times. 
The whole work was, however, always done by unpaid volunteers 
that grew into close friends over time. 
All the servers we have and all the paid services we use 
were sponsored by either companies or friends and allies.
We never wanted to be, never were and never will be a business. 

A couple of years ago, christel, now former head of freenode staff
sold `freenode ltd` (a holding company) to a third party, 
Andrew Lee[1], under terms that have not been disclosed to the staff body.
This was done, from what we were informed, to organize our freenode 
#live conferences, that required a legal body.
We were repeatedly promised, by both christel and Andrew Lee, 
that neither the holding nor Andrew Lee would have any operational impact 
on freenode the IRC network. We gladly forwarded this to our users,
who were understandably concerned as well.

In the past few weeks, this has changed[2], and the existance of a legal threat
to freenode has become apparent. We cannot know the substance of this legal
threat as it contains some kind of gag order
preventing its broader discussion within staff.
The democratically elected heads of their respective teams, 
development, infrastructure, projects and communities
were removed by force[3] and have been informed that they are not 
entitled to act in their respective capacity.
As a result, Mr Lee wants and partially has operational control
over the freenode IRC network now. 
This goes against my personal values, beliefs and rules,
this goes against what we have been doing for the past 10 years, 
this goes against our promises to our users and communities. 

Therefore I, along with my colleagues, 
resigned from my volunteer position as a freenode staffer. 
I had all my access removed, so that I could not hand
it or any data over to a third party, even if I wanted 
or if I were forced to.


Where will we be going from here? 

We are founding a new network with the same goals and ambitions: libera.chat.
It is backed by a swedish non-profit which lets us hold the name,
domain and various other assets to avoid a hostile corporate takeover.
It allows us to continue to operate the network  as unpaid, neutral volunteers.
It allows us to ensure that your personal data does not end up as an 
asset to some company that could consider monetizing it.

You can connect to the new network at `irc.libera.chat`, 
ssl port 6697 (and the usual clearnet port).

We're really sorry that it had to come to this.
When we told you that freenode ltd. and Andrew Lee / PIA / LTM / ...
won't have any impact on freenode, 
we always communicated based on what we knew and what we were promised. 

I'm aware that such a move is hard, especially for established communities. 
We will do our very best to support you if you plan to join us on libera.

I hope to see the lot of you on the other side, 
feel free to contact me on the new network if you have any questions. 

A big thank you to my former freenode colleagues, all our users, 
projects and communities that acompanied us for more than a decade.
Thank you very much, keep rocking and making the 
free / open source software and peer directed communities great. 

Christian  (Commonly known as Fuchs)

Footnotes

[1]: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/10308021/officers
[2]: A blogpost has been removed without explanation: (via the wayback machine)

https://web.archive.org/web/20210423231439/https://freenode.net/news/freenode-reorg

[3]: The teams and their democratically elected heads got removed without explanation:

https://web.archive.org/web/20210423231451/https://freenode.net/people

These growing concerns go some time/while back. I heard about the ownership change a long time ago and now it is becoming more publicly known.

Update: Just to clarify (maybe not obvious based on the above letter), it is a “the owner of PIA is suing freenode for control of freenode” issue, according to our source, who said “you probably want to cover this…”

I myself have used IRC since the very first day I got a modem and Internet connection (we used DALnet back then) and Techrights has been on Freenode for 13 years. There’s a lot at stake here. Freenode is the home for discussions if not decision-making of many Free software projects, including GNU and the FSF. It’s not a bunch of gamers. Being able to control (or manipulate, either by spying or censorship) communications is something that Facebook and Twitter have taught us a lot about.

Update #2: the letter was updated to say: “Welcome, dear reader. You might have stumbled over this file as it was linked in some articles. Please note that this was a draft that I didn’t release yet, thus at the current point of time I am not resigned from freenode yet, and further content might be added depending on how the situation develops. Thanks and have a nice $time_of_day”

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 19, 2021



  2. Links 19/10/2021: Karanbir Singh Leaves CentOS Board, GPL Violations at Vizio

    Links for the day



  3. [Meme] Giving the Knee

    The 'knee' champion Kratochvìl and 'kneel' champion Erlingsdóttir are simply crushing the law; they’re ignoring the trouble of EPO staff and abuses of the Office, facilitated by the Council itself (i.e. facilitated by themselves)



  4. Josef Kratochvìl Rewarded Again for Covering Up EPO Corruption and the EPO Bribes the Press for Lies Whilst Also Lying About Its Colossal Privacy Violations

    Corrupt officials and officials who actively enable the crimes still control the Office and also the body which was supposed to oversee it; it's pretty evident and clear judging by this week's press statements at the EPO's official Web site



  5. [Meme] Sorry, Wrong Country (Or: Slovenia isn't Great Britain)

    Team UPC is trying to go ahead with a total hoax which a high-level European court would certainly put an end to (if or when a referral is initiated)



  6. How Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden Voted on Patently Unlawful Regulations at the EPO

    We look back and examine what happened 8 years ago when oppressed staff was subjected to unlawful new “regulations” (long enjoyed by António Campinos, the current EPO autocrat)



  7. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVII: The Non-Monolithic Nordic Bloc

    We start our investigation of how countries in northern Europe ended up voting on the unlawful “Strike Regulations” at the EPO and why



  8. Proof That Windows “11” is a Hoax

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  9. Firefox Becomes as Morally Reprehensible as Apple, Facebook, or Uber

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  10. Links 19/10/2021: GNU dbm 1.22 and Godot 3.4 RC 1

    Links for the day



  11. [Meme] [Teaser] GitHub an Expensive and Dangerous Trap (Also: Misogyny Hub)

    The ongoing Microsoft GitHub exposé will give people compelling reasons to avoid GitHub, which is basically just a subsidised (at a loss) trap



  12. Norway Should Have Voted Against Benoît Battistelli's Illegal (Anti-)'Strike Regulations' at the European Patent Office

    Benoît Battistelli‘s EPO faced no real and potent opposition from Norwegian delegates, who chose to abstain from the vote on the notorious and illegal so-called ‘Strike Regulations’ (they’re just an attack on strikes, an assault on basic rights of labourers)



  13. Links 19/10/2021: Sequoia PGP LGPL 2.0+, Open RAN Adoption

    Links for the day



  14. [Meme] [Teaser] Benoît Battistelli, King of Iceland

    Later today we shall see how the current deputy of the head of the EPO‘s overseeing body was in fact likely rewarded for her complicity in Benoît Battistelli‘s abuses against EPO staff, including staff from Iceland



  15. IRC Proceedings: Monday, October 18, 2021

    IRC logs for Monday, October 18, 2021



  16. Links 19/10/2021: MyGNUHealth 1.0.5 and Ubuntu 22.04 Now Developed

    Links for the day



  17. [Meme] [Teaser] Thrown Under the Bus

    Tomorrow we shall look at Danish enablers of unlawful EPO regulations, Jesper Kongstad and Anne Rejnhold Jørgensen



  18. The World Needs to Know What Many Austrians Already Know About Rude Liar, the Notorious 'Double-Dipper'

    Today we publish many translations (from German) about the Austrian double-dipper, who already became the subject of unfavourable press coverage in his home country; he’s partly responsible for crushing fundamental rights at the EPO under Benoît Battistelli‘s regime



  19. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVI: The Demise of the Austrian Double-Dipper

    Friedrich ‘Rude Liar’ Rödler is notorious in the eyes of EPO staff, whom he was slandering and scandalising for ages while he himself was the real scandal



  20. Links 18/10/2021: Porteus Kiosk 5.3 and Ventoy 1.0.55

    Links for the day



  21. [Meme] [Teaser] More to Life Than Patents

    Greedy sociopaths oughtn’t be put in charge of patent offices; this is what’s dooming the EPO in recent years (all they think about is money



  22. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement

    Microsoft contemplated buying GitHub 7.5 years ago; the goal wasn’t to actually support “Open Source” but to crush it from the inside and that’s what Microsoft has been doing over the past 2.5 years (we have some details from the inside)



  23. Links 18/10/2021: Linux 5.15 RC6 and 7 New Stable Kernels

    Links for the day



  24. [Meme] The Austrian School of Friedrich Rude Liar

    With reference to the Austrian School, let’s consider the fact that Friedrich Rude Liar might in fact be standing to personally gain by plundering the EPO‘s staff by demonising them while helping Benoît Battistelli crush them



  25. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, October 17, 2021

    IRC logs for Sunday, October 17, 2021



  26. How (Simple Technical Steps) to Convince Yourself That DuckDuckGo is Just Spyware Connected to Microsoft, Falsely Advertised as 'Privacy'

    In recent days we published or republished some bits and pieces about what DuckDuckGo really is; the above reader dropped by to enlighten us and demonstrate just how easy it is to see what DuckDuckGo does even at the client side (with JavaScript); more people need to confront DuckDuckGo over this and warn colleagues/friends/family (there’s more here)



  27. Austria's Right-Wing Politicians Displaying Their Arrogance to EPO Examiners

    The EPO‘s current regime seems to be serving a money-hungry lobby of corrupt officials and pathological liars; tonight we focus on Austria



  28. [Meme] Friedrich Rödler's Increasingly Incomprehensible Debt Quagmire, Years Before EPO Money Was Trafficked Into the Stock Market

    As it turns out, numerous members of the Administrative Council of the EPO are abundantly corrupt and greedy; They falsely claim or selfishly pretend there’s a financial crisis and then moan about a "gap" that does not exist (unless one counts the illegal gambling, notably EPOTIF, which they approved), in turn recruiting or resorting to scabs that help improve ‘profit margins’



  29. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XV: Et Tu Felix Austria…

    Prior to the Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos regime the EPO‘s hard-working staff was slandered by a corrupt Austrian official, Mr. Rödler



  30. Links 17/10/2021: Blender 2.93.5, Microsoft Bailouts

    Links for the day


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

Recent Posts