Edward Snowden on Mass Surveillance in the Mobile Era

Posted in Apple, Google, Videos at 3:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 3cd922855afa2541fdcb540e1a08653a
Snowden on Mobile
Credit: Edward Snowden: How Your Cell Phone Spies on You

Summary: This 2019 chat is worth reproducing here as WebM; it is still very much relevant and explains that bulk surveillance has only gotten worse since 2013

If more people understood how “smart” phones work and what they actually do, would they still pay for them?


Linux Foundation Uses Proprietary Software on Proprietary Operating System (Not Linux!) to Lecture People on Adopting ‘Open Source’

Posted in Apple, Deception, Fraud, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 12:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Published 2-3 hours ago:

Is it time for an OSPO in your organization?

A Deep Dive into Open Source Program Offices: Structure, Roles, Responsibilities, and Challenges

LF Research Mac

Summary: The Linux Foundation‘s track record of hypocrisy carries on today (they’re using proprietary stuff on an Apple Mac to produce a report on ‘Open Source’); they reject Open Source on two levels


[Meme] Linux-Rejecting Foundation

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t forget to send to GitHub using Visual Studio…

Summary: The Linux Foundation never really leads by example; by default, it uses proprietary software


Proprietary Software is Pollution

Posted in Apple, Hardware, Microsoft at 1:00 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Authored by Dr. Andy Farnell

The global pollution
The global pollution crisis has contributing factors

Summary: “My daughter asked me about why are we throwing away some bits of technology,” Dr. Andy Farnell says. “This is my attempt to put into words for “ordinary” people what I tried to explain to a 6 year old.”

Proprietary waste

It remains mostly unnoticed that proprietary (non-free) technology is an indirect but enormous contributor to planetary pollution through e-waste and inefficiency. If you value the environment, stop buying it.

“Most likely you bought a phone, tablet or other gadget that uses proprietary software. Proprietary software cannot be reused.”Electronic waste is wrecking planet Earth. 50 million tons of phones, household appliances, computers and gadgets are disposed of annually. Most of it is illegally shipped to India, China and Africa where it’s shredded and burned by child workers who are poisoned. Large amounts of toxic “forever chemicals”, dioxins, micro-plastics and heavy metals are released into the environment poisoning life all around the planet. (See Dannoritzer 2014 Dannoritzer14)

But we need technology, so what can you do? Well, one cause is that software goes out of date long before physical devices grow old. Most of what we throw away works perfectly. It would last another 10 years. So, this waste and pollution is quite preventable.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are the three ways we can eliminate waste and protect our environment” according to official US and European policies. Yet when it comes to electronic waste, governments do almost nothing to give force to these common sense ideas. Instead they support, by laws and propaganda, active opposition to ecologically sound practices by corporations.

A massive contributor to e-waste is avoidable obsolescence through non-replaceable software. So called “digital rights management” (DRM) has a direct impact on e-waste because region locking means all kinds of goods from DVDs to phone handsets are rendered useless. DRM chips embedded into everything from game consoles to printer ink cartridges are designed to make sure perfectly usable goods must be destroyed. There are even laws, lobbied for by corporations, which make it illegal to try reusing or recycling electronic devices. This has to stop.

Most likely you bought a phone, tablet or other gadget that uses proprietary software. Proprietary software cannot be reused. It cannot be repaired, shared, or modified. Electronic devices often come locked so that you cannot update obsolete software. Would you buy a disposable car that could not be refuelled? Or imagine buying a flashlight for which you cannot replace the battery. That is literally how Apple iPhones are designed. It is how Microsoft makes computers so that its awful “Windows” operating system cannot be replaced with something better.

Yet cheap new batteries and fuel are metaphorically available to everyone as Free Software. If you have freedom to install fresh software on your own devices we call that Software Freedom. You have “Food Freedom”, because you are allowed to buy food from any shop. Just as you may fill your car from any gas station, people have an inalienable right to put fresh software of their own choosing on their own devices. I call the alternative “Consumer Communism”.

Don’t feed the landfill

To avoid contributing to toxic pollution when purchasing new electronic goods an environmentally conscious buyer will look out for these major problems:

  1. Locked boot-loaders
  2. Digital rights management
  3. “Software as a service” contracts
  4. “Smart” connected devices

Locked boot-loaders mean that you cannot install your own choice of operating system or applications on your gadget. When the supplied software fails due to age or security faults you won’t be able to extend its life. Even if you personally wouldn’t want to service the device it still means that engineers at a recycling centre or thrift shops who refurbish devices cannot salvage them.

Digital rights management (which are really digital restrictions) make it illegal for people to fix broken devices. Like boot-loader locking they can also be used to enforce other kinds of crippling and ‘regioning’. This is what makes your perfectly good devices stop working when you move to another city.

Everyone has heard of the scam where you buy something online, and receive only a picture of it. Increasingly we are sold gadgets that don’t actually come with the necessary software to work, but just a ‘link’. Instead the software resides “in the cloud”. The company then charges you to access it. At a whim they can change the price, or even what the software does. Or they can discontinue that software. You are left with a useless gadget, ‘a brick’ that must be thrown away.

“Software as a service” is increasingly pushed by big corporations like Adobe, Microsoft and Google. You should avoid products whose business model rests on constant internet connection, because this is precarious, wasteful and disruptive.

Software should be secure for its user. However, it is expensive to test and remove bugs. Because that cuts into profit weakly-tested code is shipped prematurely. Increasingly, vendors use false “security updates” to sneak in disabling updates or malware, which is corrosive to trust. We have normalised code as “work in progress” and got people used to unmonitored updates as “fixes”. In fact this is a clever excuse for “always connected” applications that are not under the user’s control.

Secure software can also protect its owner from the vendor. There is an unspoken conflict of interests in all discussions around cyber-security. Big companies ship insecure software not because they are stupid, but because they intend to. They are lazy, tight and dishonest.

So-called “smart” connected devices are very often like this. They are also completely unnecessary. Do you need to have a camera or microphone in your “Smart TV”. No. Is there any advantage for you to do so? No. Do you want your kids exposed to inappropriate advertising forced through these devices? No.

Yet companies subsidise the prices of “Spy TVs” because they can make lots of money selling your personal data. When people learn of this they want to get rid of their Spy TV, especially if they have children who they do not want perverts watching. These rogue products could be fixed by replacing the software to permanently change how they work. But they are designed to be very hard to repair using Free Software. Manufacturers may even have the law in their side to stop you neutralising threats to your own family.

When thinking about computer security it is no longer sufficient to presume a shared value that makes life safer for everyone. We must ask “Security for who?”, “Security from whom or what?”, and “Security to what end?”. The needs of end users, vendors and governments are increasingly at odds. There is no longer any such thing as ‘bare security’.

In particular, vendors and publishers want security from the end user. That’s you! You are not a “trusted” party on your own property. If that sounds insane, that’s because it is. It’s a colossal abuse and bastardisation of every facet of property, agency and freedom established by rule of law in liberal democracies in the last century – and it needs stamping on like the sticky creepy-crawly of cloaked fascism that it is.

By buying proprietary digital products you contribute to this and to literal toxic pollution. Other than childish bragging rights and shallow vanity, what use is an internet connected toaster? Companies have run out of ways to add value to electronic products, so they foist pointless features on buyers. Not only are “smart” features used to spy on you, but also to break products by remote actions. This way you have to buy new ones.

Let’s talk about the priority of sane ecological policy. Reduction is better than reuse, and repair/reuse is better than recycling. We have the options to:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle

Politely refuse

These are choices you need to assert to avoid technological tyranny not unlike that of the petroleum and tobacco industries of the last century. Modern digital technologies have a bullying aspect to them. So I have long argued that there is a fourth R we miss, to refuse.

Most of the companies making phones and computers have lost sight of what is good for all our futures. They only want to make and sell more. But we already have enough, and what we have is good enough.

We have departed from rational, informed and voluntary market choices. Technologies are increasingly forced upon us. The benefits are diminishing returns on increasing social and environmental costs. Not buying new digital goods is a rational move for preserving the environment, our mental wellbeing and personal safety.

Breathless language is all around us in the media telling us how overuse of “ubiquitous” technology is “necessary”, “required”,
“essential”, “inevitable”, and a “new normal”. Recognise it as propaganda and marketing from trillion dollar mega-corporations who make their fortunes from technological waste. False rationales like “efficiency” and “security” increasingly proffered are dishonest.

Technology overuse is making us all less efficient and more insecure. More of it won’t help. We need to build better, simpler, less wasteful and more humane technology. Much of that can be achieved by reprogramming hardware that already exists. For example, the circuits from an iPhone3 can make an amazing solar powered web-server, eliminating the carbon footprint of an energy guzzling data-centre rack. Yet most older iPhones are destroyed because they are not easy to reprogram.

So always remember, the first option you have is to refuse. Don’t be suckered into upgrading to new devices, services or software updates designed to exploit your uncertainty about “being left behind”. Does what you have work well enough? If so it should continue to work well enough. If that changes, it means somebody broke it. If that happens, they ought to pay you compensation and fix what they broke, so that it works as you purchased it. As it is, tech companies act like they sold you a house, then come around a month later and smash all your windows. “Oh sorry” they say, “your house isn’t ‘supported’ any longer, you’ll need to buy a new one”.

A massive difference you can make is to only buy electronic goods that will run Free Software. Free Software enables you to have a police force that will stop these hoodlums trespassing on your property and doing criminal damage. When GNU/Linux software such as Debian or PineOS replaces the wasteful proprietary software on your device it also means old computers and phones can be refurbished for use in schools, or simply kept working longer in businesses. That’s great for the environment. So, for the sake of our planet, please stop contributing to e-waste by buying devices that only run bullying proprietary software.

Life on this planet is dying because of things we do. One of those things involves simple choices about what electronic gadgets we buy. E-waste and its relation to proprietary software is a big factor not just in pollution but energy use. Wrongly calling wanton consumption “growth” or “progress” is dishonest. Does your latest iThing really do anything your last one didn’t?

Many countries are implementing legislation to enforce our “Right to repair”. Support this. Insist on more and stronger rights. This is also a right not to forced to waste energy or create pollution. We urgently need to recognise the role of proprietary software, DRM, so called “trusted computing” not just as choice/freedom issues but as direct attacks on the environment. It is a form of pollution.


This work is licensed under version 4.0 of the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license. Please share amongst your friends or include on your website.


  • [Dannoritzer14] Cosima Dannoritzer, The E-Waste Tragedy, ARTE, Media 3.14 (2014).


The Car Drives You — Part I — You Own Nothing

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

Car after crash
Steered by the car, which does not accept instructions from its driver and owner

Summary: With all the media hype about things getting “smart” (and various buzzwords to accompany this hype so as to sell useless gimmicks and gadgets that spy/manipulate) it’s important to understand what gradually happens to automobiles that are nowadays being sold

THE question may seem pointless and banal. Who truly owns today’s cars? It’s a perfectly legitimate question? Who drives it? Who can bypass or override the driver? Again, nowadays the question isn’t so simple to answer.

We already published (this past evening) a timely new video about cars becoming increasingly hostile towards their owner/driver, assuming that the owner is the person who paid for it (not the manufacturer) and driving is about more the pressing down a pedal. When we wrote about privacy issues and safety issues we pointed out that today’s mechanical/physical pedals are connected to a computer, not the engine/throttling parts.

“…today’s mechanical/physical pedals are connected to a computer, not the engine/throttling parts.”Where is this going? Where do governments steer us? Why is media debate so scarce?

In last night’s Daily Links we included this new link, cautioning about creeping oppression. To quote:

When a government decides to take a look at your particular field of experimentation, it’s never necessarily a cause for rejoicing, as British motor vehicle enthusiasts are finding out through a UK Government consultation. Titled “Future of transport regulatory review: modernising vehicle standards“, the document explains that it is part of the process of re-adopting under UK law areas which have previously been governed by the European Union. Of particular interest is the section “Tackling tampering”, which promises a new set of offences for “tampering with a system, part or component of a vehicle intended or adapted to be used on a road“.

They go into detail as to the nature of the offences, which seem to relate to the production of devices designed to negate the safety or environmental features of the car. They’re at pains to say that they have no wish to target the legitimate car modification world, for example in motorsport or restoration, but it’s easy to see how a car hacker might inadvertently fall foul of any new rules. It’s worried the enthusiasts enough that a petition has been launched on the UK parliamentary petition site, making the point that the existing yearly MOT roadworthiness test should fulfill the function of taking any illegal vehicles off the road.

It’s probably too late to weigh in; this official page says: “The consultation period began on 28 September 2021 and will run until 11:45pm on 22 November 2021. Ensure that your response reaches us before the closing date.”

There’s also this EU page for those outside the UK.

“With all those cars nowadays, at least the newly-sold ones, there’s not just a computer onboard but several computers and they not only contain software; it’s no longer immutable, it’s network-connected, and sometimes remote updates modify the behaviour of the car.”This runs parallel to the war on general-purpose computing, including software. This whole subject is closely connected to software freedom.

“Well, Apple and Microsoft are chumming the waters with Right to Repair,” an associate told us yesterday.

“They’re focusing on hardware only, which is an improvement,” Ryan noted. “But without knowing how the software works or how to replace their operating system, you still don’t control the device. They want to be in control of when the last software update goes out.”

Our associate said that “Apple, Microsoft, and the others are trying to saturate the news on that topic, diffuse and unfocus the work, and confuse the public and, especially, the politicians. This has to be slammed through as legislation or else Apple will continue on the path it has been going down since Steve Jobs got sick, and where most other vendors are deciding to follow. Nothing other than a legal smackdon will suffice, the PR efforts to the contrary are no more than PR efforts to stall and weaken the effort. and take away the existing rights. There has always been the right to repair stuff one owns. However, Apple and the others are trying to spin that into not applying to computers. Apple is even looking like it is aiming to ban general-purpose computing. Notice that the trade press and other lapdogs are now grovelling about “sideloading” and insinuating how it is bad, rather than pointing out that the real name is “installation” and it is a normal activity on device and tools one own and controls. Microsoft, Apple, and the car and farm equipment companies see that it could go either way. Right now the US is leaning towards keeping the rights that are in place, but with enough lobbyist money the vendors could tip it the other way. Here is an FTC position statement on the topic [1, 2].” [PDF]

“Microsoft is trying to retcon “installing software on Windows” as sideloading if you don’t get one of the five apps that’s not fake from their store,” Ryan said. The associate responded: “A key aspect is that Microsoft cultists have trained the public and the politicians to be completely docile when “computers” are mentioned and to roll over when “software” is mentioned. In the latter, they have help from the copyright cartel.”

With all those cars nowadays, at least the newly-sold ones, there’s not just a computer onboard but several computers and they not only contain software; it’s no longer immutable, it’s network-connected, and sometimes remote updates modify the behaviour of the car. Unlike some phone or PC, cars put you in life-threatening situations, so it certainly does matter.

“We’ve been hearing similar stories lately; smart people reject the “new” and “smart” cars.”“I wish they’d just go back to what cars in the 1980s came with,” Ryan said. “If you can find a 1985 Honda or GMC pickup or anything really and the body is in good shape… You’d be financially better off to wheel it down to a good mechanic and dump $10,000 or more into having him fix everything that needs attention than you would buying a new car. And you can find some cars that old that never rusted, that look like they came straight out of the 80s. If they were in California or Nevada or even Florida. Obviously, for safety you should take it down and have it inspected and repaired as needed. Expect to replace all of the brake lines, belts, and rubber hoses. They dry rot. But once you get out ahead of that, the car might be perfectly usable for many years.”

We’ve been hearing similar stories lately; smart people reject the “new” and “smart” cars. “I hope to get at least a few more years out of the Impala,” Ryan said, “but I won’t be replacing it with anything very new. I’ll probably go looking for about a 2010 Crown Victoria or something that was fleet owned. They just don’t break down nearly as often as newer cars do. They were pretty much designed in the 70s-90s and then tweaked along the way. Ford never invested anything in a total redesign after that. The mentality, right, was different then. Back then, people were smarter and they knew, hey, this is a major purchase and it should last a while. Now it’s “If my brand new $50,000 Toyota can’t ping a web server to verify I paid my $8 a month remote starter fee, they start disabling my shit!”. “Wow, so amazing! $850 a month car payments for 7 years, you say? Oh boy!”. “Plus the $8 a month for the remote starter of course!” Like, when did Toyota get so greedy that they have to tack on $8 a month to an $850 a month car? Remember Henry Ford? His philosophy was that mass production should make cars so cheap and so easy to repair that anyone could own one? Henry Ford was obviously a shrewd Capitalist, and these modern car companies could not be more diametrically opposed to his viewpoint. They want to tack on surprise fees that you won’t even consider, to a car that’s got you bleeding out like a deer that’s been hung on a rack. They control the government safety agencies. They ask for all of these new “safety” features to be mandatory. That way their competitors can’t produce an affordable car either. When you wreck it, it’s totaled because it costs $1,000 for the body damage and $10,000 to realign some sensors. When those idiots ran into my Impala, you know what I did? I pulled off the bumper cover and put on an aftermarket one that was on ebay for $150. It’s held on by standard bolts that you can just unscrew and screw back in. It took out my fog lamps, but the plastic was so yellowed anyway that I just unplugged them and tossed them in the dumpster.”

In the next part we shall revisit the issue from another angle. Stay tuned.


Linux Isn’t Loved by Microsoft, It is Being Googlebombed by Microsoft

Posted in Apple, Deception, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum a2f1255b07abc18ef12c95556ba9e58a

Summary: Journalism on the Web is dying and is being replaced by SEO/affiliate links/spam farms; the vacuum is moreover being exploited by PR operatives who boost brands of Microsoft by piggybacking opposing brands, such as “Linux”

THE ATTACK on the brand or the name (or brand name) “Linux” carries on. It’s moreover being ‘hijacked’ by the very same people and companies that are looking to undermine GNU/Linux. They know exactly what they’re doing and the media helps them. It’s intentional.

“It has been getting harder to find actual GNU/Linux news, partly because the media isn’t functioning anymore and a lot of self-described journalists are just PR spammers.”Earlier this year we stated that Phoronix should be careful of Microsoft after Phoronix had received ‘freebies’ from Microsoft. This is how sites self-nuke and drive away their audience. Looking at the front page of Phoronix, as I did in the above video, you find Phoronix doing Microsoft articles more than once per day. Some people point this out in the comments; they’re not happy.

As a side note, we still see Visual Studio Code being wrongly described as “open source” and WSL being painted (sometimes even in Microsoft/Windows sites) as “Linux” even though it’s just Windows. ChromeOS with Crostini is “Linux” because ChromeOS is at least GNU/Linux-based (Gentoo to be more specific).

It has been getting harder to find actual GNU/Linux news, partly because the media isn’t functioning anymore and a lot of self-described journalists are just PR spammers. We wrote some things about this last year. Over the past few weeks we saw UbuntuPIT, a site that used to cover GNU/Linux/Ubuntu, becoming an Amazon spam farm (affiliate links, garbage disguised as recommendations) and over the past year that site promoted lots of Windows things, sometimes iOS and Android. They ought to drop “Ubuntu” from that site’s name.


Developer of the “Better” App, Which Provides a Content Blocker for Safari, Considers Quitting Due to Apple’s Plans to Invade Users’ Privacy With “CSAM” Scanner.

Posted in Apple at 6:33 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Summary: The developer of the Better app may quit and remove the app from the Apple store due to Apple’s privacy violations.

In a bug report regarding potentially switching to Better’s content blocker for GNOME Web, the maintainer of Better says that he and the co-maintainer, his wife, are considering getting out of the Apple app development business entirely.

He blames Apple’s plans to invade the device with “client side scanning”, which Apple claims will detect child pornography stored on iPhones, Macs, and iPad tablets.

While Apple claims that is what it will do, it will really enable massive government surveillance and will lead to regimes like the Communist Party of China and various Islamic theocracies rounding up and murdering people for everything ranging from being a hated minority (gay, Uyghurs, etc.) to wanting democratic government.

Apple already goes to lengths _beyond_ what is legally required in order to do business in China now. For example, you can’t have your Apple merchandise engraved with numbers that correspond to the date of the Tienanmen Square Massacre, even though there’s no legal requirement to prevent them from etching those numbers onto a product.

It was also just two years ago that Apple also proactively removed a song about the massacre from the Apple Music disservice. The sources I read say it didn’t happen in Hong Kong SAR, but it probably has by now. There’s hardly a difference since the so-called “National Security Law” was foisted on them and people began disappearing.

The Communist Party of China tramples over individual rights and freedoms. It’s what they do. Apple assists them. If you think anything good will come out of “client side device scanning”, I’ll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for two dollars.

And they realize that while the United States conducts “freedom of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea, they can conquer us without firing a shot by putting us in horrible debt to them and buying up American property and companies, and using their money to corrupt universities.

In fact, in Lake County, Illinois, I stopped calling the community college the Colleges of Lake County and started calling them the Communists of Lake County. There is so much Chinese propaganda going on in there, you wouldn’t believe me if I laid out the full extent of it for you.

They paint a very rosy picture of China when what’s actually going on in there is quite horrible and sad, and people are choking on pollution and disappeared by secret police (murdered?), and are too afraid to even speak about it. In the mean time, CLC is pitching an international study program like it was a trip to paradise!

“Usually with Apple’s tracking and advertising libraries, but often with Google’s as well, and of course Google pays to be the default search engine on iPhones, and hardly anyone changes that.”While I applaud Aral Balkan for seeing through the Apple privacy bullshit and leaning towards removing his apps to cease paying them 30% of his app revenues to inflict this abuse on their customers, many developers frankly don’t give a damn and would never inconvenience themselves in such a manner.

In fact, most Apple apps spy on the user to the same extent that most Android apps out of the Play Store do. The author knows this because they’re the ones who put the tracking libraries inside the app!

Usually with Apple’s tracking and advertising libraries, but often with Google’s as well, and of course Google pays to be the default search engine on iPhones, and hardly anyone changes that.

The marketing of “privacy” to users with later versions of iOS serves mainly to try to make it less convenient for other companies to spy on you without using Apple’s tracking garbage, and to position Apple to be the only ad network that iOS developers would want to use.

Richard Stallman mentioned that iPhones (and iOS) are worse than Android, because they do every nasty thing Android does, and then stop you from even considering installing Free and Open Source Software from a repo like F-Droid.

He suggested a good name for a hypothetical such store, though. F-Apple.


Free Software Foundation, 36 Years Old, Still Fights for Software Freedom

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 4b5aa953d4c8a58ba9f3fbeefd2b5e62

Summary: Free software supporters should not forget that in the face of a rather vicious and corporate-backed online mob the FSF brought its founder back to the board; it has since then lessened its dependence on funding from large corporations, which means it deserves more supporters or donations from individuals who value software freedom

THE past few years we wrote hundreds of articles about the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which is 36 this year (it turns 36 in one month and one day). Yes, 36. A lot older than Linux. In past years we noted that the FSF had become a little dependent on a bunch of rather large companies — which we estimated (based on IRS filings) to account for about half of the FSF’s budget.

That’s not the case anymore.

“The FSF is definitely still effective and it deserves our support. It’s not sucking the teat of Google or IBM or any other very large company.”It can take a year or two to gain public access to IRS filings which correspond to a present year, but we suspect that a large majority of the FSF’s budget comes from supporters (which in FSF terms means individuals, not corporations which are dubbed “patrons”).

In the video above (first video in a while that uses an external camera) I take a look at last night’s posts from the FSF. They hire additional people and they still speak out against Apple. The FSF is definitely still effective and it deserves our support. It’s not sucking the teat of Google or IBM or any other very large company.

“Just had someone DM me saying they got Google money for their NGO and Google might be terrible but taking their money doesn’t make your organisation bad. So I told them I could probably get them funding from Saudi Arabia and they went silent.”

Aral Balkan this week

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