11.01.20

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Ashtrays of Human Rights and Tech Rights

Posted in BSD, Debian, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 10:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Travellers

Summary: The way things are going, especially so far this year, we’re going to have to become a lot more active (in the activism sense) and campaign for better society; repression has soared during the COVID-19 pandemic and further exacerbated due to Donald Trump’s fear of losing the election, only to be held belatedly accountable for his crimes (he already jokes aloud about having to escape the US in case he loses the impending election)

THIS coming week chaos and violence are predicted in — and for — the United States (we’ll spare the links; there’s no lack of them). We’ve already taken note of which corporate candidate is less harmful and which one is less harmless (double negation because we’re excited about neither candidate).

“2020 was an extraordinarily scary year for the “tech rights” of people; privacy is increasingly being framed as a health hazard…”The world is going in a very negative direction, putting aside the health crisis. People tend to focus on human rights aspects, such as asylum-seeking and race-baiting. We try to remain focused on technology because it’s a subject we understand better and are suitably equipped to comment on.

2020 was an extraordinarily scary year for the “tech rights” of people; privacy is increasingly being framed as a health hazard (some places go as far as banning cash payments as if coins or banknotes are the most potent infection vector, not people speaking to each other’s face in some pub with uncovered beverages/drink glasses). It was Halloween yesterday and not a single family/child knocked on our door (eerily unusual) because we’re going into lock-down in a few days and people don’t trust each others’ palms (or even objects that touched those palms). This sort of “new normal” makes organising for change a lot harder, except digitally.

Linus PaulingSome readers might choose to feel or actually be “offended” by the view that next week (or later this week, if Sunday is judged to be a week’s first day) we still won’t know who becomes/remains president in the US. No inauguration date until January and maybe no decision on the matter until then, either…

These are dark times, both politically and technologically. There’s a correlation between those two things (e.g. misuse/abuse of technology to enable human rights violations, as IBM did ~85 years ago in Germany and a century ago in America). Companies that wish to be seen as racially “woke” are anything but… it’s just smoke and mirrors.

To the best of our understanding, our server maintainer is applying to leave the US (for Europe). She’s not the first. To some, the last straw was Bush with his illegal wars; to others, Trump is more than they can chew.

Linus Torvalds, a Finnish citizen, was naturalised in the US more than a decade ago (to the best of our knowledge he’s still a dual-national). He moved pretty much all of Linux to the US-based fake ‘nonprofit’ (called after his main project, which is in turn named after him).

The other day an associate reminded us of what OpenBSD received for opposing illegal wars (OpenBSD is the other famous OS founded by a South African, originally). To quote Australian press:

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has stopped providing funding for a project which involves OpenBSD, apparently because OpenBSD lead developer Theo de Raadt made statements which could be considered anti-war to a Canadian newspaper.

OpenBSD is one of a number of free Unices which are increasingly being used on servers due to their reputation for security. NetBSD and FreeBSD are two others; they all have a common base in a project which began at the University of California in Berkeley and had the name Berkeley Sofwtare Distribution.

A good part of the $US2.3 million grant from DARPA, the research and development arm of the US military who in 1970 set up what evolved into the internet, has already been used by de Raadt even though he was not very happy about the source.

Canada’s Globe and Mail quoted him as saying: “I actually am fairly uncomfortable about it, even if our firm stipulation was that they cannot tell us what to do. We are simply doing what we do anyways – securing software – and they have no say in the matter. I try to convince myself that our grant means a half of a cruise missile doesn’t get built.”

The money was provided to the Portable Open-Source Security Enhancements project run at the University of Pennsylvania.

It’s no secret that today’s Pentagon, which drops bombs as frequently as British people nowadays check their so-called ‘phone’, favours Linux. Linus Torvalds is no Linus Pauling (whose mugshot is shown above).

'Trump’s Military Drops a Bomb Every 12 Minutes, and No One Is Talking About It' and 'Brits Now Check Their Mobile Phones Every 12 Minutes'

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