Bonum Certa Men Certa

Dawg, I Herd You Like Freedom

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Jun 19, 2024

Pies, spring 2021, Lublin, Poland

Freedom of thought, like many other freedom "types" (association, speech, software etc.), boils down to holding particular views without fear of reprisal, either real or perceived (borderline paranoia or "cold feet"). If there is a risk associated with the embrace of some particular ideology, it discourages the outward expression (i.e. spread) of that ideology.

In the context of Software Freedom, little is ever said about free speech, except by means of analogy, as in, "think about free speech, not free beer" (an old adage from RMS).

There's a more profound analogy somewhere therein. Maintaining a particular belief and spreading or defending that belief may depend on privacy, censorship resistance etc. There are many ways to suppress certain beliefs, ranging from death threats to actual assassination, or from threats of lawsuit to actually paying lawyers $30,000 to send ~1,000 pages of legal documents to a doorstep.

There seems to be growing recognition of the importance of free speech in the Freedom Software (or Free software) world. There have been many discussions about that lately, including behind closed doors and in private.

Earlier today we wrote about how Freedom Software relates to injustice and inequality. In the coming years we hope to write more about how the relationship between Free software and free speech works out in practice.

The fervent belief in free speech isn't some "Libertarian" thing (or "liberal" thing). It's a human rights things. It's about being able to expose crimes without facing threats from the criminals one exposes.

Earlier today we wrote about EU "chat control" (there are other names for it, depending on the member state, including "chat control 2"). At the moment it's not just free speech that's under attack but also protected or privileged speech. In an ideal world, wherein exposing high-profile criminals is doable as means of eliminating them from society, encryption (end-to-end, the proper way) is the norm. There's no room for compromise on this.

The lawmaking dynamics are sadly controlled by the rich and powerful. This means that most new laws that are being passed exist merely to protect or cement the power of the already-powerful. The interplays or the interactions between legality and ethics were explored months ago by RMS. To quote: "In some cases, we contend, morality and legality say opposite things. In the US, distributing a program that can break DRM is illegal; the companies that implement DRM point to this, and hope you will confuse legality with morality. We are careful not to get confused that way. Breaking DRM is morally admirable; what's immoral is to implement DRM."

Well, "chat control 2" would be another good example of it. They're hoping to criminalise private communications. Where does this insanity end?

Forest Niemce Poland

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