11.22.21

Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VII — Nat Friedman, as GitHub CEO, Had a Plan of Defrauding Microsoft Shareholders

Posted in Deception, Fraud, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists
  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement
  3. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud
  4. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IV — Mr. MobileCoin: From Mono to Plagiarism… and to Unprecedented GPL Violations at GitHub (Microsoft)
  5. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part V — Why Nat Friedman is Leaving GitHub
  6. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VI — The Media Has Mischaracterised Nat Friedman’s Departure (Effective Now)
  7. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Nat Friedman, as GitHub CEO, Had a Plan of Defrauding Microsoft Shareholders

GitHub: Where everything comes to die

Summary: The son of a financial tycoon probably engaged in embezzlement and maybe securities fraud; and this isn’t even the worst scandal, which directly impacts Free software

THE new CEO of GitHub has been on the job for only a week (as of today). As we explained in the past pair of parts, it’s safe to assume that ongoing scandals (not told by the press; it’s aware, but it’s suppressing publication) played a considerable role in that. This choice of CEO probably indicates where the company is going (more proprietary vertical integration) and was probably made in a rush, almost on the spot.

In later parts we’ll detail (with some evidence) the role played by the press, keeping these scandals under wraps by falsely assuming that women are liars and accused men need to be protected from embarrassment. Among the key culprits: Vox, Bloomberg, and Buzzfeed. What good are media outlets that are looking to appease sponsors and advertisers rather than the audience in need of journalism? What good is a corporate leadership that refuses to understand who it hires?

“In later parts we’ll detail (with some evidence) the role played by the press, keeping these scandals under wraps by falsely assuming that women are liars and accused men need to be protected from embarrassment.”“I don’t want to get involved” is not a legitimate excuse (direct quote by the way). If more information becomes available, we’ll also add some parts about the new CEO and what the past teaches us about the CEO’s future direction at GitHub, which is more like a trap than “free hosting”. As always, we encourage people to leave GitHub. The sooner, the safer. Make exit plans.

Nat Friedman should have known better, especially considering his father’s work. Friedman surely knew how this law works (he could ask dad), but he chose to ignore it; he got greedy (which wasn’t needed; he was very rich to begin with, even well before Microsoft). To put this in the correct context we’ll need to introduce readers, perhaps belatedly, to Friedman’s good friend, whom he used to get very badly drunk with (substance abuse will be the subject of much later parts in this series). The friend’s name is Alex and they’re pretty close. From their very own (still online) record:

Alex Graveley and Nat Friedman in Flickr

Alex Graveley and Nat Friedman

There’s more, but some of it is so old that it’s difficult if not impossible to find now. This pair goes well over a decade back.

We did not want to bring up Alex Graveley (or mention him by name), but that’s essential for those wishing to understand what’s going on. Or his current job title at Microsoft.

According to our source, Alex Graveley and Nat Friedman made a ‘pinky promise’; “he also said that the original plan for Copilot was Alex would start a company and work with Nat behind the scenes to build it to get acquired by Github, which sounds like securities fraud, but I’m not a lawyer…”

“So it seems like Friedman set him up for richness; but at whose expense?”Graveley and Friedman know who the source is, but that does not matter.

So it seems like Friedman set him up for richness; but at whose expense? By funnelling Microsoft shareholders’ money to a friend he likely breached several ethical rules (“make this company; do this thing; I will tell my bosses (Board and CEO of a company called Microsoft) to make this next move and we’ll give you lots of shares”).

If he instructs the employer to pay an old mate, that’s a very big deal. It makes one wonder what technical merit — if any — this thing has. It was acquired by means of nepotism, not really pragmatic interest, then hyped up in the media even though it’s worthless as a tool (some people have demonstrated this point). At Microsoft, they use that to push proprietary IDE (Visual Studio) and teach people not to worry about GPL compliance.

As our source stresses strongly, and more so repeatedly: “The original plan was to have Alex build it as a start up. And then Microsoft would acquire it. Which sounds a bit like fraud.”

“If he instructs the employer to pay an old mate, that’s a very big deal.”Well, that sounds illegal because it is. He’s playing with money that isn’t his own; he’s passing Microsoft shareholders’ capital to a friend, and maybe he can then get kickbacks off of him (one can only guess how the favour can be repaid).

Our source says that “this never happened, even if it was contemplated, [as] Alex was not in any place mentally to do this…” (based on texts, he had booze issues if not other, far more severe issues with heavy narcotics — a subject we set aside for later parts)

The Microsoft modus operandi has long been to attack Free software while giving the false impression that Microsoft means well and is a friend, a “co-pilot”. Don’t fall for it…

Securities fraud was in the books.

Wikipedia defines the term as follows: “Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of securities laws.

“…shareholders ought to know that they may have paid — or fallen — for a weak or defective product, merely for the benefit of the CEO’s friend.”It further notes: “Securities fraud can also include outright theft from investors (embezzlement by stockbrokers), stock manipulation, misstatements on a public company’s financial reports, and lying to corporate auditors. The term encompasses a wide range of other actions, including insider trading, front running and other illegal acts on the trading floor of a stock or commodity exchange.”

Assuming the above was true, as was heard directly by our source, Friedman sought to divert Microsoft shareholders’ money to a friend. Friend-man? Either way, shareholders ought to know that they may have paid — or fallen — for a weak or defective product, merely for the benefit of the CEO’s friend. This isn’t even the sole case of nepotism — a point we shall discuss later.

11.07.21

Opinion: The GPL and Politics

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL at 2:48 am by Guest Editorial Team

GPL meme
Daniel’s meme

Summary: Daniel from Argentina responded to our take on GPL enforcement and agreed for his message to be reproduced (along with the above meme, which he had made and sent to us)

Hi there Roy.

I saw your video about Mastodon, and would like to send you some comments.

It’s about the political side of Free Software: an aspect we have discussed many times by now.

I feel the video/argument is mostly divided into two halves: a first one about Free Software and some of its uses, and the second half more focused on Mastodon itself.

I agree with everything you say about the Mastodon side of the argument. I mean this: it’s more about power over speech and people’s political capital rather than about freedom, and I find your experience with it quite representative.
However, your reading about “how it all should really be” left me some doubts that I would like to discuss myself.

1. About the “political” aspect.

At ~12:40, you tell “this is problematic, first of all, because it contributes to the perception that FS is very politicized, and is going to great lengths to discourage adoption from certain political factions”.

Well… Free Software kinda IS that.

The “kinda” part (as in “debatable”, or even “wrong”) is that Free Software would never actually say something along the lines of “these political parties are prohibited from using Free Software”. I believe that’s closer to your point (what you want to argue against), and I agree with you that something like that would be totally opposite to the freedom FS works for, and therefore would be a misuse of FS.

Yet, you and I react that way any time any corporate agent gets its dirty hands in some FS project or organization. It’s not about “we don’t want Microsoft people to use GNU/Linux”: it’s about “Microsoft IS ENEMY of FS”. We don’t like them, we don’t trust them, we fight them, and that may not be on the philosophical core of FS but it actually IS in its historical core. We are, in a big part, also that: if not by philosophy, then by culture. And Microsoft is not and should not be the only such case.

And I don’t think there’s any hypocrisy in that. I think business corporations (as MS) and non-profit organizations (as the FSF) are very much “political parties”, even if they don’t go to elections for any state position. But both kinds of organizations work constantly for social changes (or against them), and that’s pretty much politics.

The point is always about “canonical political parties” getting all the credit for “politics” itself. That SHOULD NOT happen. That’s just the representational aspect of wWstern liberal democracies, which these days seem more like a bug rather than a feature.

Of course you start and end the video acknowledging a political side of Free Software. Yet, “politicized” gets in the middle of your argument over and over again. That word should be something more close to “partisan”.

I don’t think in English, so it’s tricky for me to figure out the details, but I feel like “politics” in English as spoken by people has a slightly different meaning compared to the people around me. It’s not like we don’t have the same problem here: it’s full of people telling you “this/that is not political, don’t politicize it” when you argue from some technical perspective against some political figure. That’s usually the case when legal stuff gets in the argument, or even scientific. But we also know very well here that there’s NO WAY of splitting politics from social criticism, no matter how technical it is: social action, whatever its nature, in the XXI century, is political, and whoever tells otherwise is quickly recognized as a negationist. And technical or not, Free Software DOES social criticism. Free Software DOES have enemies. Free Software IS NOT neutral: it favors freedom. And that is totally fine.

Yet, freedom comes with some attached issues.

2. About the weaponization of licences.

Make no mistake: it IS a problem. What you perceive and argue about in your video IS a very real and very core problem.
But, as I argued before with “political”, I also believe the GPL very much IS a weapon (in the metaphorical meaning you give to that word, of course).

“For freedom” may say RMS or the FSF: but everybody knows the dangers with weapons…

I’ve argued in other messages that the GPL is meaningless without enforcement.

It’s not actually “meaningless”: it means A LOT, as it guides people’s ideas and discusses stuff like property and sharing and rights. But that’s ideology, and you can do that by just writing books or preaching in any way; the GPL is a legal license, and that’s where it’s “meaningless” without enforcement. And enforcement is very much “a weapon”: you don’t do enforcement with smiles and balloons and candy, but with consequences of failing to comply.

The GPL beautifully shows that people breaking it are not stealing “property” or “money”, but other people’s freedom. That means many things: from allowing people to do stuff to questioning value theory. It’s brilliant, elegant, and absolutely necessary for social change, for the good.

Yet it’s also aggressive, and it imposes rules on others. Hence “weapon”.

Now, anyone can use a weapon, for whatever reasons. What do we do about that?

It’s the same issue as “I don’t want my free software being used for ICE, smart rifles, surveillance, etc”.

I remember an RMS talk here in Argentina, about 2010, where someone from the Argentinian Python community asked him about that issue. “I don’t want my free software being used in killing people”. And RMS said “from a FS perspective, we have to let them do it”. You can imagine that didn’t result in happy faces.

“Freedom is technical” clashes with “freedom is political” very quickly in real life. And we (as a community) have different stands regarding that.

I’m on the wagon of “freedom MUST have limits”. I’m not sure HOW that crosses with Free Software (I think it does in several different ways, where I’ll favor freedom or restrictions depending on each case), but I’m absolutely certain it does. That problem in part touches your concern about weaponizing the GPL (“it should be used equally, not just against a political party”, yet enforcers are human beings with their own interests), but is much more important in other aspect of your argument: “Free Software as Free Speech”. And that’s where Trump gets tricky.

3. The case of Trump, and what he represents.

You said it yourself, about ~28:00: you don’t want anything to do with those free speech maximalists from Gab, because these people are malicious.

Yet you do, because you argue in favour of free speech (what they say they do) and free software (what they use, and also kinda do). They’re a shining example of everything wrong with “free”.

I would say it’s a blatant lie that gab is “free speech”, as we all know that “leftist discourse is not welcome” barely begins to describe what happens in that space.

Thing is, again, we do that too. We see nazi discourse and we discredit, mock, marginalize, or even ban. Those are not the same things (different powers for different people are involved in each action), but the social structure match: there are implicit and explicit rules for speech, and whoever doesn’t comply faces consequences.

So, from the point of view of the nazis, gab is “freedom”, I have no doubts about that. But if we do critical thinking, we can’t just replicate their logic with a straight face, and we need to face that our freedom of speech actually has limits.

When this issue comes up, you usually use the legal aspect as a limit: the death threat, for example. But I say that’s just naive. I have been defending for years strong freedom of speech online, on different spaces (mostly forums and IRC), even to the point of making banning a taboo of sorts. And over and over again the result is the same: the most rude and violent people make a home of those places with free speech, and everybody else just leaves. I myself was actually very rude, “truth” was the word that made that behaviour legit, and “technical” was always the criteria to discredit criticism: other people had to argue with MY technical points, and theirs were always off-topic from my perspective. And the other side was always full of actually wonderful people, that usually didn’t have the same capacity as I did for expressing or sharing their thoughts. Also people easily get hurt by words (REAL hurt), and this way I found myself over the years being an asshole in the name of free speech. Happens all the time, is a serious issue of free speech, and I personally will no longer face this with naive stances as I consider that would make me part of the problem. Spaces with different people NEED rules. Rules HELP people, even if rules take away degrees of freedom. And “no rules” has always the same consequence: a loud minority with more power than others.

You may disagree with this, and that’s OK. But it’s as empirical as your experience with Mastodon. Surely other people had other experiences.

And I bring this up because, while I think you’re right about Mastodon being used awfully, I also think you’re wrong about what to expect from it as “free software”, and therefore from free software itself.

You focus mostly on how somebody banned your user account because of your opinions and their political bias. But let’s consider for a moment the other two cases you also mention: the ones where some people over the Internet just drop the server to never come back. I would say that people bringing down its servers was irresponsible, because of the impact on the users (loss of data, the feeling that what they do online people care little about, powerlessness, etc) and the technological ecosystem itself (users getting away from this tech because it’s unstable, and so using other more stable stuff). And I share your lecture that all of that seems much more about the power of being admin rather than free speech or empowering users.

Yet again, the same happened decades before with forums and IRC channels: you give extra power to someone, and you get misuse of power issues. On the other hand, you give the same power to everyone, and you get any random person over Internet having the same weight as respected people on the community, and suddenly you have problems of quality vs quantity. And that’s just the beginning of it. Those problems don’t exclude themselves, and you can have both of them together and then more: factions, untold interests, honest irreconcilable dissent, new generations of users with different cultural baggage…

The admins of all that complex systems are usually just people that knew how to install and maintain some software: they know little to none about people. And the point is that this shouldn’t be about software, but about people.

I say “irresponsible” because to me people matter. But I also know that any random person over Internet may just want to administer some instance of a server for whatever reason, such as the ones which may not share my concern over people. “I wanna be an admin” is pretty much an OK thing to want, and “I’m tired of doing this” or “It’s not what I expected, I just wanna leave now” are OK stances too. Free software gives the power to that person to do that. That’s freedom too. And when we talk about that hypothetical admin: is this person “user”, or is something else? Is it OK to empower that person to do that kind of things, no matter what happens with the users of the online service?

Even RMS relativizes the value of Free software in remote servers from an end user perspective.

But my point is that real life puts limits to the Free software ideals, and add lots of complexity that naive stances simply can’t deal with. This are just some of them, and there may be many others. Now, you’re talking about “not making free software an anti-trump thing”, because Free software is not supposed to be that, and here I strongly disagree. This is a good example of my stance on the issue.

Trumpism is no joke, the far-right is growing worldwide, and the Internet is in the middle of it. WE, as the free software community, are in the middle of it: we’re the ones fighting against corporate power inside the software world. We’re the ones turning software into a political issue. We’re the ones talking about ethics and sustainability and people’s empowerment from IT. It’s pretty much irresponsible for us to try to be neutral when the corporate power of Trumpism gets into Free software: that’s already a wrong instance. But by the looks of it, things are so bad with the far-right worldwide that we’re kinda also living a civilizational crisis: nazis again, and this time all around the world, while tech makes them grow and grow by the day, and both global warming and inequality get worse by the year. This is the ultimate real-life limit Roy, and there’s no more room for neutrality here.

There’s always ideals: and there’s always also real-life. Science is supposed to be neutral, and technical, and most of all objective: yet, ask any person who studies science (not “a science”, but science itself, as in “sciences”), and the person will tell you that science is as political as anything else. Or take a look at the justice department of any country in the world, all of them supposedly objective and technical and neutral: full of contradicting normatives, full of lobbying and ideological mandates, full of politics. That’s not “corruption”: that’s the way they are, the way they work. Institutions are NEVER neutral, and never were: they favor values. And Free software favors freedom. We are NOT neutral.

You may be most likely right that GPL enforcers have their own agenda. But in your argument you don’t mention the issue of limited resources (so you can’t just go enforcing GPL against every single server online, therefore you have to cherry-pick your targets), and the fact that high targets may actually be a correct strategy (because of cultural impact of your work). And there’s also the fact that is not the same Trump or Bernie Sanders, and you may have pretty much different stances against each one of them without breaking any Free software ethical rule: I’m OK to have some anti-Trump enforcers, and if I were trying to argue your points I’ll more likely argue in favour of “also anti-Bernie enforcers”, and NOT “neutral enforcers”. Careful Roy, as you reject some very basic enforcer’s humanity traits by trying to defend technicality and neutrality, which is already a questionable idea. But then again, you do that when Trumpism is in the focus of the scene, and Trumpism is the “freedom” of Gab. And not only that, but Trumpism is also fascism: a clear limit to freedom. You may have defensible points, but I must warn you anyways to be very careful with the real-life limits of those arguments. There ARE limits to ideals.

4. Some final notes, mostly about politics.

“Free speech” has his history. It comes from the fight against the churches and kings. Science as we know it championed freedom of speech around the XVII century, but it had more to do with “against dogma” rather than the current idea of “I can say whatever I want”; they’re both very different things.

Free software shares some of that same history. It comes from a long liberal tradition. I’m talking about the left liberal ethos from the French revolution. Later the Cold War experience immunized the USA from Marxist influence, and so liberal ideology is the canon there: you have different shades of liberalism, and that’s it. If you have any “left” in there, it’s also liberal, like it was back then in France. And that’s the place where RMS grew up. So, his freedom imperative had a lot of cultural and political influence from previously-enabled and already-installed reasonings.

Yet, if you work on its logic, and read it from “empowering users” perspective (as you do in your video), Free software is pretty much classist: it’s about “people vs corporations”, and from there “workers vs capitalists” is less than a step away.

I prefer the liberal stance over the Marxist when it comes to talk about what people CAN do, because I don’t like the Marxist implications about work and history and what it means to be human: there’s some idealism I consider empirically and historically incorrect. However, the flaws of liberal ideology also comes from idealism gone wrong, with the uses of “freedom” being the main of such cases, and so I prefer Marxism when it’s about what people SHOULD do. And this is actually the case when almost every contemporary economic theory ends up being just liberal ideology made pseudo-science for business enthusiasts: Marxist theory shines there. And it’s also very useful in places where social responsibility is involved. Let me give you an example. Remember those Mastodon instances taken down by its admins, that I called “irresponsible”? The current liberal-inherited common sense would call those Mastodon instances “servers” or “services”, implying servitude and even a possible commercial interaction. Well… Marxist common sense would call them “means of production”, implying “that’s what people use in order to do stuff”, and would tell you to seize them, to not let such a thing in the hands of people that do not share your class interests. What would have happened to Free software if its people would have used those kinds of categories and reasonings, instead of the liberal-inherited ones, every time a corporate zealot came to our doors with shiny trinkets to offer?

Yet we’re not talking about economics, but about Free software. Let me tell you Roy: I HATE when people try to make that stuff about “it’s just technical”, and then embrace ideal rules as sacred scriptures and call that “freedom”. That’s not freedom: that’s dogma. That’s RMS telling lots of wrong stuff, even if he’s brilliant and actually the creator and rightful (and beloved) leader of our movement. That’s “systemd is ethical because is Free software”, that’s “we should let them do it from a FS perspective”. That’s the kind of rationale that feeds us bloat release by release of almost every single software we use: because if it’s Free software, then everything else is fine. That’s fantasizing that software culture can be limited to a bunch of rules and that’s it. And it’s not like that: it’s quite complicated and much bigger than the 4 Freedoms and “technical quality”, at least if we’re still talking about people.

And it is much complicated than liberal vs Marxist too. Because it’s also about psychology, biology, ecology, sociology, theology, cybernetics, arts, and so much more. What people can do with anything tends to be chaotic, and what people should do almost never can be reduced to simple rules. That’s the very history of human institutions.

Informatics is the way of handling huge real-time complexity: probably the main problem our current societies struggle with to survive; informatics is the way of sharing information of all kinds, from health care to arts; informatics is the way to predict future problems, to calculate just production and distribution of needed materials, to democratize participation in science and politics, to spread awareness, to connect people, to understand and fix diseases. And a giant chunk of informatics is software. And we, as the people that do ethics and politics from the software world, try to focus on the 4 Freedoms and the GPL uses, and that’s it? Really? “Neutral GPL enforcement” is a bigger issue than fascism for our community? Are we really discussing more about “privacy” than about capitalism? When are we going to discuss our own liberal-inherited agenda limits in light of real-life needs like poverty, climate change, overpopulation, and so on? Are we going to keep telling ourselves “it’s just about freedom” in front of all of that, as if software didn’t have anything else to say?

I feel that last paragraph can be very unfair to you, because I know very well that you’re a sensible person on those issues, you do write frequently about all that, and this time you’re just talking about a very specific thing and that’s all. I understand that. But I tell this as a more general idea, as something I feel must be said loudly to the crowd where you also happen to be. So please understand it’s not about you, but about the shared ideas and ideals on the software community in general, and the Free software community in particular. I believe we’re dealing with dogmas and inherited common sense that should be faced with critical thinking. I also believe right-wing corporations are much better organized than we are, and that they’ve learned with time to make us use our own weapons against ourselves (like the very GPL), by which we should be discussing what to do.

I believe the Free software movement must grow into something bigger, and stop trying to be so specific. Because we’re people in a critical infrastructure position for our time, and should think therefore with a more holistic and societal mindset. And I’m not talking about relativize freedom, but about mixing it with other equally important values, ending up in more core guidelines than the 4 Freedoms. Otherwise, I believe we’ve already seen everything Free software can do for society, and frankly I don’t think it’s helping very much these days: most likely makes things worse by allowing Trump zealots to clone Twitter, but this time with Apple EUAs and a free haven to the worst of our culture. That’s just simply too much.

11.06.21

Mastodon Has Turned Free Software Into a Mechanism by Which to Exercise Unjust Power Over Users

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 1c07755d75224bf3cc6be82724fc1112

Summary: Political agenda being advanced using Free software licences contributes to this idea that Free software isn’t truly free and there are political restrictions, however subtle or implicit they may seem

THE notion of Free software and the notion of free speech are closely connected. It’s about empowering users, it’s about emancipating people. But what happens when copyleft-type licences and (A)GPL-licensed code are being turned into a mechanism of control, just like proprietary software?

This is what we’re dealing with here…

“If we’re not careful, the Free software movement will be co-opted by people who don’t care about software freedom (or care about it but covertly look to advance some other interests).”So yesterday we wrote about the EFF turning 'rogue' or becoming more and more political (and corporate) instead of focusing on its original goals. The same thing seems to have happened within some factions in the Free software movement (FSF, OSI, SFC), as some people enter those institutions mostly to advance some unrelated — and very personal — political objectives. This inevitably divides the support base where this isn’t needed (we saw that also in Mozilla and the Linux Foundation) and generally weakens — or takes out of sight — the original goals. Yesterday we mentioned the article from The Register, which incidentally had the same problem. As Wikipedia puts it: “In December 2000, Magee suffered a heart attack. When he returned to work, he stated publicly that he disagreed with the editorial direction of The Register.”

If we’re not careful, the Free software movement will be co-opted by people who don’t care about software freedom (or care about it but covertly look to advance some other interests). They can start in small numbers, but if they grow roots they will take over, exercising political censorship by weaponising licences. This is the subject of the video above. To be specific, Mastodon seems to be helping Donald Trump by giving him more publicity that he deserves and leveraging selective AGPL enforcement, which can in turn embolden more people on the right (to “own the libs”; reverse psychology).

“We’re at risk of losing the advocacy line that says something along the lines of, Free software is free as in free speech.”This isn’t the first time I write about Mastodon in the context of political meddling. I wrote about it 4 years ago [1, 2] and last year I left the Fediverse altogether, as I had already lost 3 accounts there. It’s not even a matter of “wings” (left and right), it’s just a general issue with free speech. Mastodon has been trying to impose censorship and speech restriction at the code level, taking away control from users (who can themselves block/mute instances). We’re not talking about issues like promotion of crimes (law enforcement is another aspect, e.g. death threats); we’re talking about misuse of code copyrights to promote a particular worldview, akin to so-called 'ethical' (in whose view?) source.

We’re at risk of losing the advocacy line that says something along the lines of, Free software is free as in free speech. Or about letting the users have control, rather than being controlled from above.

11.01.21

Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IV — Mr. MobileCoin: From Mono to Plagiarism… and to Unprecedented GPL Violations at GitHub (Microsoft)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Mono at 11:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists
  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement
  3. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud
  4. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Mr. MobileCoin: From Mono to Plagiarism… and to Unprecedented GPL Violations at GitHub (Microsoft)

GitHub: Where everything comes to die

Summary: MobileCoin, which employed a person from Team Mono (and a close associate of GitHub’s CEO), has serious accusations against it; as it turns out, GitHub is now looking to make plagiarism mainstream, mostly in an effort to combat copyleft; In this introductory part we hope we can explain what’s wrong with Copilot very clearly and very concisely, then use that as a cautionary tale, knowing past patterns/behaviour of those manipulative individuals who are behind Copilot

THE weekly installment of this series isn’t timed for impact; it’s timed to give way to the EPO series, which is a very high-impact series that will end about a week from now. Then, once done, we hope to be able to rush through with the GitHub series; we have so much to show and to cover.

“…it’s no exaggeration to say — and hard to overstate the severity of it — that the GitHub management is a bunch of charlatans, frauds, and back-stabbing moles.”Last week, in Part III, we left off after explaining misuse of funds and misuse of code. Basically, it’s no exaggeration to say — and hard to overstate the severity of it — that the GitHub management is a bunch of charlatans, frauds, and back-stabbing moles. Those are not the same people who created and grew the company; that the new management also has a profound misogyny problem and a lack of empathy is an aspect we’ll come to much later in the series. Even some Microsoft insiders are set aback, almost appalled by it. But they love money, so they continue to participate. Not a novel or a new kind of problem…

This isn’t some ‘low-level’ issue, either; this concerns the CEO of GitHub, who just like the CEO of Microsoft has well-documented misogyny issues. The angle more interesting or relevant to us is legal and technical, though megalomania can be understood in the context of how people treat their partners; “it’s in regards to Nat Friedman and his personal life,” one person noted, as “from personal experience he’s a misogynist”.

We’ll leave all that for another day or another week/month. There’s a lot of material related to this. It’s just as important, but we must tackle one issue at a time.

Today’s focus will be MobileCoin. As Wikipedia notes under criticism: “MobileCoin has been accused of a pump and dump scheme. The integration of MobileCoin wallets into the popular security messager app Signal received criticism from security expert Bruce Schneier, who previously praised the app. Schneier stated that this would bloat the app and attract unwanted attention from the financial authorities.”

“Even some Microsoft insiders are set aback, almost appalled by it.”Without going into all the pertinent details (what MobileCoin is and where it came from) we’ll focus on its relevance or similarity to a scenario we have with Microsoft’s GitHub. As many are aware, GitHub increasingly integrates with Azure and Visual Studio, which are proprietary software with surveillance (Visual Studio Code has surveillance built in and a non-free licence). To make matters worse, Visual Studio Code — with help from fools who still put their code in GitHub — now flagrantly suggests GPL-licensed code under the guise of “Hey Hi” (but without any licence notices). A recipe for disaster, sure…

Co-Pilot (or CoPilot or just Copilot) is a lot smaller than GitHub, but it’s important to know where it came from and why. As we noted in Part III, there may be a securities fraud aspect to it, albeit this angle will be dealt with separately as it merits further investigation and understanding of the law.

Copilot is being touted/advertised (spammed by Microsoft boosters in their sites and captured media) as exciting novelty/innovation, but it’s an attack on our community, programmers, and basically an assault on GPL enforcement. It’s telling people not to worry about GPL compliance because the code, which was actually written by humans, is some sort of “magic” created out of thin air.

One of the persons involved in the Copilot attack (because that’s what it is — an attack) is called Alex, who had “a run in with the Monero community,” according to a former partner. “Alex also worked on MobileCoin…”

“One of the persons involved in the Copilot attack (because that’s what it is — an attack) is called Alex, who had “a run in with the Monero community,” according to a former partner.”What is it about? The gist: “The token attached to Signal in a way that seems unclear even to people that work at Signal” (there’s information related to this, with good references, in the above-mentioned Wikipedia article).

Signal is not trustworthy, but this isn’t the subject of our series. We might do a separate series about spying elements in the so-called ‘crypto’ community and even in some of the (self-described) “Open Source” fake ‘community’…

The former partner is “aware that Copilot is scraping other people’s code and compiling into a service, claiming fair use…”

At a scale such as this it is not fair use, but that’s a subject for another part. The FSF has already invited essays on this matter as part of a competition with a generous reward to winners.

The short story is, Copilot is against enforcement of Free software licences. We wrote a number of articles about it in the past (along with videos and memes). It’s no laughing matter and it is the foremost threat to Software Freedom. It wasn’t ‘pioneered’ to help developers but to help Microsoft’s agenda.

“The short story is, Copilot is against enforcement of Free software licences.”This kind of objective “seems to be a theme for Alex,” the former partner noted. As we’ll explain some other time, it’s the same Alex who made Tomboy, a notorious infection vector for Team Mono inside GNU/Linux distributions. There’s a patent angle to be covered as well (that’s another part).

Microsoft is a prolific GPL violator (it got caught many times), so eradicating the GPL-type licences is a longterm objective. Just so that people can make proprietary software and extinguish Free/libre software used to make such software, then blame “HEY HI” (AI); yes, it’s a legal hack and there has not yet been a court case to test the legality of it. It’s totally untested in courts and we don’t suppose SFC wants to sue; SFC took money from Microsoft for two years in a row. SFC also lobbied very hard against the founder of the FSF, who came up with the GPL.

“Alex has a history with that,” the former partner said. “His company Hackpad is founded on some open source work he did, Tomboy notes, [and] thing is, he forked Tomboy from another repo [and] now Alex has a bunch of document editing patents that now belong to Dropbox…”

If this is true, there’s lots of explaining to do; and it’s “good to confirm my suspicions of plagiarism,” the former partner noted.

GitHub now does this on an unprecedented scale.

“Microsoft is a prolific GPL violator (it got caught many times), so eradicating the GPL-type licences is a longterm objective.”“The Monero community is pissed at him too,” the former partner recalled, as “supposedly MobileCoin plagiarized them, but MobileCoin isn’t decentralized”.

There was some digging around all this, asking people in the know. The former partner “also spoke to this guy [scalled] David Trowbridge, who was named in the original demand letter [...] he seemed sympathetic at first and went silent”.

“Gates started Microsoft by stealing other people’s work. That’s what Microsoft still does,” the former partner quotes, adding that “this quote stuck out to me, because Alex’s company Hackpad, was built upon an open source project Alex forked and claimed as his own and has been accused of plagiarizing Monero during his time at MobileCoin.”

At a later stage we’ll show how that’s connected to GitHub. There are also patents; This one is MobileCoin’s.

Of note: Toby Segura/Segaran, Joshua Goldbard, and Chris Toshok… those names are relevant as “Toby Segura, Joshua Goldbard are the MobileCoin guys,” we’re told, and “they don’t like Alex” (who is now at Microsoft).

“GitHub is no longer controlled by the people who ran it for its first decade. The mission of GitHub isn’t the same, either.”“Chris Toshok is a friend of Nat [Friedman] and Alex [and] he said something to the effect of Alex not being at parties for the past few years, claiming they don’t hang out with him because he’s “mentally ill” and everyone knows it…”

“Chris said he hadn’t seen Alex at Nat’s parties at his house in a few years and it was probably because Alex is crazy, which I doubt, because Nat and Alex talked on the phone when we were together and Alex had been out of SF for several years…”

Either way, it looks like there’s a patch of skulduggery there. Some of the upcoming parts were already alluded to above. We expect to continue next Monday if not earlier. There’s a lot more in store. Remember who controls GitHub and remember that history/track record counts (repeat offenders). GitHub is no longer controlled by the people who ran it for its first decade. The mission of GitHub isn’t the same, either.

10.18.21

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

Posted in Deception, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 5:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists
  2. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement

GitHub: Where everything comes to die
Get out while you still can…

Summary: 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)

THE latest series we have is expected to last months, not weeks. Our in-depth investigation started yesterday as we began fact-checking and verifying claims. Some of them are quite astounding and the challenge will be splitting the revelations into separate logical bits.

As a bit of a teaser, last week we showed what Miguel de Icaza really thinks of the CEO of Microsoft GitHub (Nat Friedman, a rich spoiled boy like Bill Gates). Remember that it was Miguel de Icaza himself who more than 15 years ago worked on the wedding between Microsoft and Novell (the very reason this site exists in the first place) and it’s mostly about patents, enabling Microsoft to basically dominate if not commandeer GNU/Linux. Also, for those who are not aware, Miguel de Icaza met Nat Friedman as a Microsoft employee (intern); both still work for Microsoft and Miguel de Icaza actually co-founded GNOME after he had attempted to work for Microsoft (but failed for immigration reasons).

“They say a fish rots from the head down; here too, as we shall see, rich spoiled boy Nat Friedman is the mastermind.”This series won’t be focusing on aspects that we covered before, e.g. how GitHub renders Free software projects mere “slaves” of Microsoft (Microsoft is the master of everything in GitHub, no matter what it says about the word) or why it’s a huge danger (we consider it to be the biggest threat to Free software). Instead, we shall focus mostly on how GitHub is being weaponised against millions of Free software projects, especially those that use reciprocal licences. We’ll see who and what is behind that plot, based on insiders’ accounts. We don’t want to give any spoilers away. They say a fish rots from the head down; here too, as we shall see, rich spoiled boy Nat Friedman is the mastermind. He’s so vain that he’s blocking, not just stonewalling, many of his critics. He’s insecure if not paranoid because he has so much to hide.

“GitHub is another problem,” an associate of ours has explained, as “it was only half bad at first but after it got bought out / sold out then it is all bad. I figure it was a defensive maneuver by Microsoft to also gain surveillance over competitors, but more to shut them down and control them. Similar to Mojang.”

In the case of Mojang, think of the poor frog inside the warm/hot water that starts boiling and gradually kills the frog in a very cruel fashion. In the case of Minecraft (of Mojang), they stopped the Java version and made a variant of the flagship product that was Windows-only, then they went all in on that. Apparently they also require a Microsoft account to continue using the product. Bundling and social engineering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. In GitHub’s case, they try to steer people away from the GPL and change users’ practices; moreover, they promote a proprietary IDE, NSA-friendly hosting, and a “better” Git tool (basically pulling an E.E.E. on the original project, which was created by Linus Torvalds). The bundling increases over time. Use it the way Microsoft wants or be left behind..

Remember that ongoing scandal in .NET Foundation (as recent as this month). Microsoft constantly misuses its power in GitHub and it’ll only get worse in the future because the fist tightens. The currency is control [1, 2]. That’s just Microsoft being Microsoft. Robert X. Cringely once said that Microsoft “have the deepest of pockets, unlimited ambition, and they are willing to lose money for years and years just to make sure that you don’t make any money, either. And they are mean, REALLY mean.”

GitHub does not make money, but it gives Microsoft a lot of unjust power that it is — as always! — happy to abuse/misuse.

“They’ll never recover that money,” our associate has said about GitHub and Mojang, “but they did shut down a gateway for kids to learn about GNU/Linux and the very existence of non-Microsoft systems.”

“Microsoft itself is only about 4/5 of the problem. On top of what it does itself, there is also the fact that various nation states exploit it as a vehicle for nefarious works.”

“Hence the continued bailouts via “contracts”, like JEDI.”

“Microsoft constantly misuses its power in GitHub and it’ll only get worse in the future because the fist tightens.”We casually mentioned this in yesterday's Daily Links. Expect this series to also cover Pentagon and/or NSA connections. They do exist. Microsoft is more about politics than about technology.

As we focus intensely on the EPO we cannot promise daily or even weekly posts in the GitHub series. But we certainly expect this series to go on for a very long time.

In Part III we’ll begin to examine some verified new evidence. In later parts we’ll name some of the players (culprits) and illuminate their dark past.

10.15.21

Post About Whether Vivaldi is a GPL violation Was Quietly Knifed by the Mods of /r/uBlockOrigin in Reddit

Posted in GPL, Law at 4:58 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the originals [1, 2]

This is the most Reddit thing ever.

So I posted yesterday that Vivaldi Adblock is basically just a ripoff of Adblock Plus and uBlock-Origin code, and that code is licensed under the GNU GPLv3, which talks of “conveying” the software as part of a larger work.

Which is what Vivaldi does.

It’s really hard to write an ad blocker that works right, much less an entire web browser. Vivaldi admits that their browser engine is Chromium, but they’ve effectively plagiarized the ad blocker as their own by stamping a “Vivaldi Adblock” brand on it.

When you do this, your work becomes part of the whole, and must be under a compatible license. However, Vivaldi as a whole is proprietary, meaning it likely violates the licenses of Adblock Plus and uBlock-Origin.

However, when I posted to Reddit’s support forum for uBlock-Origin requesting a code review of Vivaldi’s source dump, they quietly changed it so that the only people who could see it are me and the moderators.

Have a look.

In Reddit on Vivaldi

Many GPL violators get away with it because none of the copyright holders bother to enforce their license.

If they’re not going to enforce their license, they should just go ahead and release it under a permissive license so that companies don’t get the idea that they can simply steal and misappropriate code and nothing will happen to them later involving the DMCA, similar laws, and court.

(Which is what those companies use against a single mother of 3 who downloaded 14 MP3 files.)

The copyright holders of the Linux kernel have never bothered enforcing their rights and so Linux gets stolen this way all the time. And yes, you can say someone stole/pirated Free Software if they misuse it against the terms of the license, assuming the concept of stealing/pirating software is a valid concept at all. The authors have as many rights as anyone else who releases a copyrighted work.

Companies who want to get away with “Free Software piracy” and not get dragged into court, like Sony, commission work to replace software where the author will assert their rights (like when Sony sponsored Toybox to replace Busybox), and they also discourage people from giving copyright assignment to entities that will use it to protect the software from being misused, such as how they attack the Free Software Foundation and make it seem unfair that they asked for assignment.

The result is, they are sometimes successful, and the project becomes hard to protect.

In the past, Jamie Zawinski worked for an employer called Lucid.

They forked Emacs because they wanted to add features to it without assigning copyright to the FSF. Some of them were good features, but the FSF had to implement them separately, without looking at “XEmacs”, and the two diverged, and eventually XEmacs faltered and died after Lucid went out of business.

That fork and the death of all of that code never would have happened had they agreed to give the FSF copyright assignment and work in a participatory fashion, instead of taking JWZ’s attitude that “the FSF is impossible to work with”, after they received more from GNU Emacs than they ever would have given back.

JWZ and others who encourage authors to strip the “or any later version” language from the LGPL and GPL licenses do the entire Free Software community a disservice years down the road, because newer versions of the licenses come out to address threats and harms to computing perpetuated by hostile entities such as Microsoft, Apple, and Sony, but people who find some software under, say, the GPLv2-only and the GPLv3 cannot legally convey them as part of a new work that takes the best of both and extends them, or “upgrade” the LGPLv2.1 to something compatible with the Apache v2 license, or any number of other possible combinations.

This ultimately leaves us all worse off because of lost potential innovation, and people should simple leave the “or any later version” alone and trust other users and developers to make the right decisions 10 or 20 years down the road, instead of watching their software become difficult to use in anything, and then dying. Do you want that for your software? Because you shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, Fedora and Red Hat are now part of IBM, and IBM attacks the GPL and FSF the same way Lucid and JWZ did, only they’re still a very large company who can do a lot more harm (on their own way down). The news has been overly kind to IBM, suggesting that they’re in anything other than some kind of a freefall, and I laugh when NPR is on in the car talking about IBM as if it has a bright future, then disclosing they take IBM money.


This is a blind paste from Reddit. Someone replied to my post about what would make Vivaldi Adblock a GPL violation and this is my response to that. The emphasis at the bottom, about extension store license policies is added to this blog for effect.

Well, the question has come up before in the context of the Linux kernel.

Their position is that the kernel exports “symbols” to drivers that are flagged “GPL-only” and ones that anyone can use. The programmers and lawyers decide which parts they feel are something that is “internal” and should be off limits to anything not under a compatible license.

Unless Vivaldi has changed something dramatically in how the ublock-origin or Adblock Plus code works, I believe it should be using WebRequest API.

Google’s (Chrome Extension) Manifest v3 didn’t go over so well because it wanted to set WebRequest API such that extensions can’t modify network requests and have to use a “DeclarativeNetRequest” API that has essentially been neutered to set an upper limit on the rules.

However, since these extensions can use tons and tons of rules, and Vivaldi Adblock reports success loading well over 150,000 rules, I think it’s probably still WebRequest.

Vivaldi said they were not happy with Google’s Manifest v3 and were moving ad blocking to an internal feature to safeguard against that. Obviously, if they don’t like the limitations on WebRequest, if Google decides to go through with them, Vivaldi can patch them back out and fork ad blocking to keep letting the user load as many rule sets as they like.

Of course, there are other concerns, like Vivaldi doesn’t have a large base of users, and at this point it would basically be them and possibly Firefox not going along with the neutered WebRequest, and are people going to maintain lists for browsers that don’t neuter the API?

Anyway, my point, I suppose, is if Vivaldi is distributing them as if it were two different programs and if they are just using WebRequest, that _might_ be okay as long as they release their modifications to the ad blocker code under the GPLv3.

However, if they move it, (or already have moved it) to use a special internal API (like Brave-Adblock does, which is okay because Brave wrote their own and licensed it under MPLv2) in the browser that is not generally available to other extensions (because it performs better or something), that’s really where *I* would think they’d be in non-compliance.

But I’m not a lawyer.

I’m just comparing this to the “Linux” model of “If it’s available to everyone, go for it.”.

Sniffing their description of “Vivaldi Adblock”, however, it seems they imply their built-in functionality performs better than an extension. If it uses WebRequest, then how does it perform better?

See: https://vivaldi.com/features/ad-blocker/

Note: They also border on slandering uBlock-Origin just because it’s an extension that they don’t bundle. Lots of extensions are shady, even if they end up in Google’s store, but Raymond Hill seems trustworthy and if you make sure to only install open source extensions, you’re probably okay.

In fact, one of the biggest downsides to Chromium browsers getting extensions from Google’s store vs. Firefox add-ons, is that Firefox lists what license you’re agreeing to, and Google doesn’t.

“Oh, you paid us five bucks? Yeah, sure do whatever! Toss your Chinese malware in there!” -Google

10.03.21

Linus Torvalds is Not in Charge Anymore, All Important Decisions Are Made by Monopolistic Corporations

Posted in GPL, Kernel at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 5edbf42accd71d6b95836f29843d3508

Summary: The corporate users of Linux, the kernel at least, call all the shots; they try to do the same to GNU, so ordinary users and grassroots movements are left mostly in the dark, and that’s jeopardising users’ basic freedoms

THE Linux Foundation (LF) and its media partners (read: paid media, puff piece factories) have long been pushing Linux to adopt Rust. We wrote about it many times before.

“This is a major regression, but it is encouraged by the same media that cheers for the bloated World Wide Web, a failed project that became all about proprietary spying by Web giants, farming people and their minds.”In this age when students cannot grasp the concept of files and directories (or “folders” as Microsoft-funded media likes to put it) we’re meant to think better code will come from proprietary software like GitHub and a bunch of bloated frameworks, too complex for any single person to properly understand and audit. This is a major regression, but it is encouraged by the same media that cheers for the bloated World Wide Web, a failed project that became all about proprietary spying by Web giants, farming people and their minds.

The video above concerns the public appearance of Linus Torvalds, whose appearance shows rapid deterioration in health; compare the photos to this older appearance of his (same two individuals). We focus on this Linux Foundation-funded article, especially the parts about corporate Rust, a fake ‘community’ that censors critics of corporations like Microsoft. These are the sorts of people who push developers towards Microsoft’s monopoly and it won't end there. It seems perfectly clear to us that Torvalds is not truly in charge since they sent him to therapists as if he had committed thought-crime.

“The video above notes that the employer of Torvalds does not like copyleft; it loves Microsoft and it outsources code to Microsoft’s proprietary software and monopolisation trap, which actively encourages people to violate the GPL.”“Linus stated and emphasized that choosing the GPL for Linux was one of his best decisions,” an associate of ours said today. “Those might have been the real words which actually got him in trouble more recently.” The video above notes that the employer of Torvalds does not like copyleft; it loves Microsoft and it outsources code to Microsoft’s proprietary software and monopolisation trap, which actively encourages people to violate the GPL.

Our associate recalls the role played by RMS inspiring a lot of very important projects, just like we’re meant to think that Torvalds’ Git is to be replaced by GitHub and Microsoft is our new overlord (they already engage in E.E.E. against Git, turning it into proprietary). “Regarding the origins and inspirations for the WWW, Wikipedia, and Creative Commons,” the associate notes, “there has been a lot of revisionism or at least omission lately. RMS used to get mentioned a lot more before the last 10 years of campaigns to wipe him and the F-word from history.” (F as in freedom)

“Linus [Torvalds] has consistently pointed out the advantages of C over the others. Some of the claimed advantages of Rust are not there. According to the one picture, he has aged terribly during the last year [...] “The New Stack” article makes selective quotes so it is hard to see the full context of Linus’ comments about Rust. However, the one quote does show that it will start to taint the mainline kernel soon. I do not trust “The New Stack” (TNS) at all. that’s one of the reasons I’d like to see the comments in their context. [...] Slashdot only has the TNS article, no video.”

If we find the video, we will share and analyse further. No spin by LF-funded media operatives (we know LF is indebted not to Linux but to the corporations that control LF).

09.21.21

Richard Stallman’s First Public Talk (Delivered in Person) in Years, Now With a Free Format

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL, Videos at 8:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Full talk now available. The organisers of the conference have uploaded to YouTube, so we’ve converted everything to a free/libre format (and last night only an excerpt was published here).

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