05.13.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Andrew Lee of Private Internet Access/London Trust Media Increasingly Owns and Controls Freenode (Updatedx2)

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 1:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There are also links to the GNOME Foundation

Andrew Lee's GNOME interview

Andrew Lee of PIA

Andrew Lee Crunchbase

Andrew Lee PIA

Summary: The details about Freenode ownership and control (VPN millionaire) are explained in a resignation letter urging users to move to another network

We recently wrote about issues at Freenode. It was about censorship for the most part. Well, according to this resignation letter, reproduced below in full, Freenode is partly or entirely owned by PIA, or the same folks who abandoned Linux Journal. Based on the wording in the letter, we can guess that there are gag orders of some kind, likely some legal action, and it does not say if this is a privacy or a censorship issue (or both). I was recently told they were censoring some users because of their Debian derivatives being created, but I’ve kept things sufficiently vague to avoid mentioning the names of individuals. The letter below does mention some people, even by full name:

Dear freenode users and projects, 

I joined freenode staff a bit more than 10 years ago, after having used 
the network for already roughly 5 years by that time. 
During this time, I enjoyed supporting our communities in various roles;
I met some of you through first level support, 
through my work for the groups team or due infra work. 

I still think that freenode as a network is a great idea,
and offers projects and groups of any size a possibility to collaborate,
coordinate or just chat freely and for free. 

Since these early times, freenode changed form a couple of times. 
The whole work was, however, always done by unpaid volunteers 
that grew into close friends over time. 
All the servers we have and all the paid services we use 
were sponsored by either companies or friends and allies.
We never wanted to be, never were and never will be a business. 

A couple of years ago, christel, now former head of freenode staff
sold `freenode ltd` (a holding company) to a third party, 
Andrew Lee[1], under terms that have not been disclosed to the staff body.
This was done, from what we were informed, to organize our freenode 
#live conferences, that required a legal body.
We were repeatedly promised, by both christel and Andrew Lee, 
that neither the holding nor Andrew Lee would have any operational impact 
on freenode the IRC network. We gladly forwarded this to our users,
who were understandably concerned as well.

In the past few weeks, this has changed[2], and the existance of a legal threat
to freenode has become apparent. We cannot know the substance of this legal
threat as it contains some kind of gag order
preventing its broader discussion within staff.
The democratically elected heads of their respective teams, 
development, infrastructure, projects and communities
were removed by force[3] and have been informed that they are not 
entitled to act in their respective capacity.
As a result, Mr Lee wants and partially has operational control
over the freenode IRC network now. 
This goes against my personal values, beliefs and rules,
this goes against what we have been doing for the past 10 years, 
this goes against our promises to our users and communities. 

Therefore I, along with my colleagues, 
resigned from my volunteer position as a freenode staffer. 
I had all my access removed, so that I could not hand
it or any data over to a third party, even if I wanted 
or if I were forced to.


Where will we be going from here? 

We are founding a new network with the same goals and ambitions: libera.chat.
It is backed by a swedish non-profit which lets us hold the name,
domain and various other assets to avoid a hostile corporate takeover.
It allows us to continue to operate the network  as unpaid, neutral volunteers.
It allows us to ensure that your personal data does not end up as an 
asset to some company that could consider monetizing it.

You can connect to the new network at `irc.libera.chat`, 
ssl port 6697 (and the usual clearnet port).

We're really sorry that it had to come to this.
When we told you that freenode ltd. and Andrew Lee / PIA / LTM / ...
won't have any impact on freenode, 
we always communicated based on what we knew and what we were promised. 

I'm aware that such a move is hard, especially for established communities. 
We will do our very best to support you if you plan to join us on libera.

I hope to see the lot of you on the other side, 
feel free to contact me on the new network if you have any questions. 

A big thank you to my former freenode colleagues, all our users, 
projects and communities that acompanied us for more than a decade.
Thank you very much, keep rocking and making the 
free / open source software and peer directed communities great. 

Christian  (Commonly known as Fuchs)

Footnotes

[1]: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/10308021/officers
[2]: A blogpost has been removed without explanation: (via the wayback machine)

https://web.archive.org/web/20210423231439/https://freenode.net/news/freenode-reorg

[3]: The teams and their democratically elected heads got removed without explanation:

https://web.archive.org/web/20210423231451/https://freenode.net/people

These growing concerns go some time/while back. I heard about the ownership change a long time ago and now it is becoming more publicly known.

Update: Just to clarify (maybe not obvious based on the above letter), it is a “the owner of PIA is suing freenode for control of freenode” issue, according to our source, who said “you probably want to cover this…”

I myself have used IRC since the very first day I got a modem and Internet connection (we used DALnet back then) and Techrights has been on Freenode for 13 years. There’s a lot at stake here. Freenode is the home for discussions if not decision-making of many Free software projects, including GNU and the FSF. It’s not a bunch of gamers. Being able to control (or manipulate, either by spying or censorship) communications is something that Facebook and Twitter have taught us a lot about.

Update #2: the letter was updated to say: “Welcome, dear reader. You might have stumbled over this file as it was linked in some articles. Please note that this was a draft that I didn’t release yet, thus at the current point of time I am not resigned from freenode yet, and further content might be added depending on how the situation develops. Thanks and have a nice $time_of_day”

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Unlawful Regimes Even Hungary and Poland Would Envy

    There’s plenty of news reports about Polish and Hungarian heads of states violating human rights, but never can one find criticism of the EPO’s management doing the same (the mainstream avoids this subject altogether); today we examine how that area of Europe voted on the illegal "Strike Regulations" of Benoît Battistelli



  2. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XX: The Visegrád Group

    The EPO‘s unlawful “Strike Regulations” (which helped Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos illegally crush or repress EPO stuff) were supported by only one among 4 Visegrád delegates



  3. [Meme] IBM Has Paid ZDNet to Troll the Community

    Over the past few weeks ZDNet has constantly published courses with the word "master" in their headlines (we caught several examples; a few are shown above); years ago this was common, also in relation to IBM itself; clearly IBM thinks that the word is racially sensitive and offensive only when it's not IBM using the word and nowadays IBM pays ZDNet — sometimes proxying through the Linux Foundation — to relay this self-contradictory message whose objective is to shame programmers, Free software communities etc. (through guilt they can leverage more power and resort to projection tactics, sometimes outright slander which distracts)



  4. [Meme] ILO Designed to Fail: EPO Presidents Cannot be Held Accountable If ILOAT Takes Almost a Decade to Issue a Simple Ruling

    The recent ILOAT ruling (a trivial no-brainer) inadvertently reminds one of the severe weaknesses of ILOAT; what good is a system of accountability that issues rulings on decisions that are barely relevant anymore (or too late to correct)?



  5. Links 22/10/2021: Trump's AGPL Violations and Chrome 95 Released

    Links for the day



  6. [Meme] How Corporate Monopolies Demonise Critics of Their Technically and Legally Problematic 'Products'

    When the technical substance of some criticism stands (defensible based upon evidence), and is increasingly difficult to refute based on facts, make up some fictional issue — a straw man argument — and then respond to that phony issue based on no facts at all



  7. Links 22/10/2021: Global Encryption Day

    Links for the day



  8. [Meme] Speaking the Same Language

    Language inside the EPO is misleading. Francophones Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos casually misuse the word “social”.



  9. António Campinos Thinks Salary Reductions Months Before He Leaves is “Exceptional Social Gesture”

    Just as Benoît Battistelli had a profound misunderstanding of the concept of “social democracy” his mate seems to completely misunderstand what a “social gesture” is (should have asked his father)



  10. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 21, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 21, 2021



  11. Links 21/10/2021: MX Linux 21 and Git Contributors’ Summit in a Nutshell

    Links for the day



  12. [Meme] [Teaser] Miguel de Icaza on CEO of Microsoft GitHub

    Our ongoing series, which is very long, will shed much-needed light on GitHub and its goals (the dark side is a lot darker than people care to realise)



  13. Gemini Protocol and Gemini Space Are Not a Niche; for Techrights, Gemini Means Half a Million Page Requests a Month

    Techrights on gemini:// has become very big and we’ll soon regenerate all the pages (about 37,500 of them) to improve clarity, consistency, and general integrity



  14. 'Satellite States' of EPO Autocrats

    Today we look more closely at how Baltic states were rendered 'voting fodder' by large European states, looking to rubber-stamp new and oppressive measures which disempower the masses



  15. [Meme] Don't Mention 'Brexit' to Team UPC

    It seems perfectly clear that UPC cannot start, contrary to what the EPO‘s António Campinos told the Council last week (lying, as usual) and what the EPO insinuates in Twitter; in fact, a legal challenge to this should be almost trivial



  16. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part IXX: The Baltic States

    How unlawful EPO rules were unsurprisingly supported by Benoît Battistelli‘s friends in Baltic states; António Campinos maintained those same unlawful rules and Baltic connections, in effect liaising with offices known for their corruption (convicted officials, too; they did not have diplomatic immunity, unlike Battistelli and Campinos)



  17. Links 21/10/2021: GIMP 2.99.8 Released, Hardware Shortages, Mozilla Crisis

    Links for the day



  18. How Oppressive Governments and Web Monopolists Might Try to Discourage Adoption of Internet Protocols Like Gemini

    Popular movements and even some courageous publications have long been subverted by demonisation tactics, splits along unrelated grounds (such as controversial politics) and — failing that — technical sabotage and censorship; one must familiarise oneself with commonly-recurring themes of social control by altercation



  19. [Meme] Strike Triangulations, Reception Issues

    Financial strangulations for Benoît Battistelli‘s unlawful “Strike Regulations”? The EPO will come to regret 2013…



  20. [Meme] Is Saying “No!” to Unlawful Proposals Considered “Impolite”?

    A ‘toxic mix’ of enablers and cowards (who won’t vote negatively on EPO proposals which they know to be unlawful) can serve to show that the EPO isn’t a “social democracy” as Benoît Battistelli liked to call it; it’s just a dictatorship, currently run by the son of a person who actually fought dictatorship



  21. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, October 20, 2021



  22. [Meme] EPO Legal Sophistry and Double Dipping

    An imaginary EPO intercept of Administrative Council discussions in June 2013...



  23. Links 21/10/2021: PostgreSQL JDBC 42.3.0 and Maui Report

    Links for the day



  24. [Meme] [Teaser] “Judge a Person Both by His Friends and Enemies”

    Fervent supporters of Team Battistelli or Team Campinos (a dark EPO era) are showing their allegiances; WIPO and EPO have abused staff similarly over the past decade or so



  25. 'Cluster-Voting' in the European Patent Office/Organisation (When a Country With 1.9 Million Citizens Has the Same Voting Power as a Country With 83.1 Million Citizens)

    Today we examine who has been running the Finnish patent office and has moreover voted in the EPO during the ballot on unlawful "Strike Regulations"; they voted in favour of manifestly illegal rules and for 8.5 years after that (including last Wednesday) they continued to back a shady regime which undermines the EPO's mission statement



  26. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XVIII: Helsinki's Accord

    The Finnish outpost has long been strategic to the EPO because it can help control the vote of four or more nations; evidence suggests this has not changed



  27. [Meme] Living as a Human Resource, Working for Despots

    The EPO has become a truly awful place/employer to work for; salary is 2,000 euros for some (despite workplace stress, sometimes relocation to a foreign country)



  28. Links 20/10/2021: New Redcore Linux and Hospital Adoption of GNU Health

    Links for the day



  29. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    IRC logs for Tuesday, October 19, 2021



  30. Links 19/10/2021: Karanbir Singh Leaves CentOS Board, GPL Violations at Vizio

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts