Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Quandary of 'Ethical' Sponsors and One's Ability to Criticise Them (Otherwise It's a Potential Bribe in Exchange for Censorship of Critics)



Summary: When Free software advocacy groups are indebted to companies that greatly harm people's freedom (including privacy) we have to ask ourselves questions regarding morality and ethics because money isn't inherently evil, it depends who or where it comes from (on what implicit conditions)

THE term "Sponsors" (or "Patrons") is supposed to sound inherently different from "Bosses" or even "Masters" (apparently the latter is now a politically-sensitive and potentially offensive term that must never be used, except in the context of slavery). Aren't those just euphemisms?



"Is Google money reconcilable in a Free software advocacy group?"Over the past month or so we've published dozens of articles on this subject alone, at times taking note of FSFE sponsors and FSF sponsors. Google used to be a top FSF sponsor for a number of years and Google is still by far the biggest sponsor of the FSFE.

Is Google money reconcilable in a Free software advocacy group? Here is what the founder of the FSF, Richard Stallman, told me 6 years ago:

7.5M



These were the FSF's sponsors the year I conducted the above interview:

FSF patrons 2014

So, it's not hard to see that Stallman was willing to criticise his top sponsor. Or at least his organisation's top source of funding (for that year, previous years, and the following couple of years).

German EuroBased on some research, it was only in 2017 that Google stopped sponsoring the FSF (completely), either because the FSF rejected the money or Google chose not to give any. So it doesn't seem likely that the turnaround moment was something Stallman said or did; contrast this with the FSFE and notice which years had asterisks in them (Google was always the top sponsor since 2013, inclusive, to the point of accounting for the lion's share of revenues):

2012:

FSFE and Google 2012

2013:

FSFE and Google 2013

2014:

FSFE and Google 2014

2015:

FSFE and Google 2015

2016:

FSFE and Google 2016

2017:

FSFE and Google 2017

2018:

FSFE and Google 2018

2019:

FSFE and Google 2019

Present:

fFSFE and Google

Google's money goes notoriously far, even privacy advocates like the EFF.

Debian (through SPI) was, especially in recent years, picking up cheques not only from Google (very big cheques) but also from Microsoft, for 4 consecutive years in fact. Does that mean that a certain Code of Conduct can be misused to punish Google and Microsoft critics? It's definitely not impossible or implausible. Some people receive a salary out of that money. They don't wish to put that money at risk. From what we can gather, the expulsion (first demotion) of Daniel Pocock was at least indirectly a result of what he said and did at the FSFE (candidly speaking to his constituents) and his criticism of Google, which he had previously worked with for years (under the GSoC umbrella). If we allow companies like these to 'donate' (it's not a charity, they want something in return) about 0.0001% (millionth) of their annual revenue to institutions where that money is about 20% of the total revenue (several people's salaries), how are we to prevent the likes of the FSF and FSFE from becoming a Linux Foundation-like failure (betraying or neglecting their own goals in pursuit of financial self-justification/gratification)?

People won't donate for long or even provide moral support if they feel like the Linux Foundation is a GitHub/Microsoft outsourcer and the FSFE is like a Google lobby/front group looking for individuals to add/lend money towards this group's objectives. This raises serious legitimate questions about morality of sponsorships in general, especially from those so large that they diminish the impact of individual contributors, rendering them more or less disposable.

Recent Techrights' Posts

[Meme] Clergy of GNU/Linux (Corporations Like IBM)
Volunteers as powerless "followers" of companies that "harvest" their labour
 
Links 29/02/2024: Layoffs at Apple, Expedia, and Electronic Arts
Links for the day
Gemini Links 29/02/2024: Web Enshittification and Firefox user-agents
Links for the day
Spiked Piece/Censoreed Piece: 'Microsoft Copilot is a gimmick', says top CIO
Issues relate to connectivity and cost
Enrico Zini, Mattia Rizzolo, Plagiarism & Debian
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
There Will Be Lots More Apple Layoffs (Already Years in the Making)
The corporate media still tries to shape the narrative to prevent panic or delay market hysteria
Latest SUEPO (Staff Union of EPO) Report For The Hague Reveals EPO Does Not Obey Court Orders, Refuses to Allow Workers to Freely Talk to One Another
working in a place where communication itself is restricted
[Meme] The Oppression Will Continue Until EPO 'Quality' Improves
wonder why EPO morale is so low?
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 28, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Outreachy, GSoC-mentors & Debian-Private may soon become public records in federal court
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 28/02/2024: Many War Updates and Censorship
Links for the day
Gemini Links 28/02/2024: Social Control Media Notifications and Gemini Protocol Extended
Links for the day
Links 28/02/2024: Microsoft the Plagiarist is Projecting, Food Sector Adopts Surge Pricing
Links for the day
Helping Microsoft 'Hijack' Developers (to Make Them Work for Microsoft, Not the Competition)
VS Code is proprietary spyware of Microsoft. Jack Wallen keeps promoting its use.
Gemini Links 28/02/2024: Groupthink and the 'Problem' With Linux
Links for the day
Android Rising (Windows Down to All-Time Lows, Internationally)
This month was a bloodbath for Microsoft
HexChat Looks for Successors to Keep IRC Growing
IRC is far from dead
[Meme] Just Make Him Happy
Y U no produce more monopolies?
End of a Long February
top 10 posts
[Meme] The EPO's Relationship With Patent Examiners
Nobody is "safe"
New Pension Scheme (NPS) at the European Patent Office Explained at the General Assembly
Investing in the future, or...
Donald Trump & FSFE Matthias Kirschner election denial
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, February 27, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Links 27/02/2024: PlayStation Layoffs and More Oppressive New Laws for Hong Kong
Links for the day
Gemini Links 27/02/2024: Facebook as Containment Field and Depression Driven Development (DDD)
Links for the day
They're Adding Warnings Now: The Site "It's FOSS" is Not FOSS
It's better that they at least explicitly state this
Links 27/02/2024: Nevada Versus End-To-End Encryption, Birmingham Bankrupt
Links for the day
End of an Era
The Web isn't just filled with marketing spam but actual disinformation
[Meme] Onboarding New EPO Staff
You read the patent application and grant within hours
The Legacy Prolific Writers Leave Behind Them
"Free Software Credibility Index" after more than 15 years
The Ongoing Evolutionary Process of News-Reading (or News-Finding) on the World Wide Web
it gets worse
Phoronix in Google News
congratulating or welcoming Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (E.E.E.)
Google Fired Many Employees Working on Google News (Which Had Deteriorated and Became Gulag Noise, Littered and Gamed by Blogspam, Plagiarism, and Chatbot/Translator-Generated Spew), Now Comes the Likely 'Phase-out'
No wonder many yearn for the days of DMOZ and Web directories in general
IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 26, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, February 26, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
"It's Obvious There's No Future For Any of Us from Blizzard at Microsoft"
The rumours suggest that more Microsoft layoffs are on the way
[Meme] Who's the Boss?
"I thought EPC governed the Office"
Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP) at the EPO and Why Workers' Salary is Actually Decreasing Each Year (Currency Loses Its Purchasing Power)
outline and update on a years-old blunder
Exposed: FSFE, Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW), Legal Network & Modern Slavery
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock