03.23.22

GNU Turns 40 Next Year. Here’s Cory Doctorow’s Message to the FSF at 30.

Posted in EFF, Free/Libre Software, FSF at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Cory Doctorow, who is at the EFF at the moment, sent this message 7 years ago

Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0

03.01.22

Richard Stallman and LibrePlanet

Posted in EFF, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman youth

Summary: Several people feel like the founder of the FSF (and GNU) is being marginalised by the FSF, but nobody wants to say it out loud

ONE year ago Richard Stallman announced that he had returned to the FSF’s Board, albeit not as President as before. Many people were happy about the news, but a corporations-led mob soon started blackmailing the FSF to undo this action (and more).

Has the coup ended? Not really. It seems like something is still going on. We spoke to a number of people and they express concern about the situation.

One person asked us: “Have you noticed RMS is not speaking at LibrePlanet this year?

“Next step,” this person guesses is “Stallman out of the board.”

The chapelUpon further inquiry, we got told that “the fact that the FSF is avoiding to have him speak at LibrePlanet is already a clear sign. And the silence of the organizers speaks loudly…”

“But the most important thing is how the FSF has prepared the ground: “…associate members of the FSF will be able to nominate and evaluate candidates for the nonprofit’s board of directors…” [note "associate members", i.e., those who pay]”

Further: “…by inviting them to suggest board nominees and then research collectively those nominees’ suitability for a position on the board…”

That’s in the FSF’s own words. And “that’s the FSF’s doors wide open for infiltration by RMS’s haters/corporations,” we got told.

Someone also wrote in the LibrePlanet mailing list: “I was excited when FSF announced the libreplanet 2022 schedule just recently, but something immediately caught my eye: RMS isn’t on the speakers list this year. Is there a reason?”

“We therefore assume it’s not RMS’s own choice not to speak.”I’ve asked somone in IRC what she makes of the lack of response (for 2 days already!) and she said: “they have seth schoen talking there, and hes from eff which came out strongly against the fsf’s decision to reinstate him last year that’s a hint right there [...] my guess is, they invited people to speak but couldn’t get anyone because of rms and they probably made a concession to not allow him to speak though some speaking slots are “TBA”…”

As “another hint,” said that person, “I asked repeatedly in #fsf [IRC] and [redacted] repeatedly gave evasive answers, and tried to change the subject, every time… [redacted] is one of the “core” people in the gnu and fsf community, he’s on the gnu advisory committee, and he sees everything that goes on behind the scenes…”

We therefore assume it’s not RMS’s own choice not to speak.

11.05.21

EFF Has Been Hijacked, and Just Like Mozilla and the Linux Foundation It Doesn’t Fight for What It Was Originally Made to Achieve

Posted in Deception, EFF, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 1:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 3dcd8fde06e9f18238d3e50f3a9252c5

Summary: Institutions too frightened or hesitant (or simply compromised) to pursue their original goals are doomed to perish; EFF seems to have “joined the club”

IT really pains me to say this, but the EFF isn’t an organisation I feel safe to support anymore as it is culling the people who I’ve long argued keep the EFF honest, sometimes. It looks like “reformist” (mainstream/conformist) elements are taking over, turning revolutionary collectives into corporate shills.

Take for example the Microsoft-serving Linux Foundation; it’s all about money and it's good at losing money. It pays massive salaries to people who undermine Linux itself. They just use the “Linux” brand to enrich themselves.

These are the same people who had Linus Torvalds sent to therapists and forced to write an apology (on the face of it this was imposed, not really willful, as a condition to him getting back to his very own project!) and we’re meant to think this is perfectly normal because of corporate trolls.

“They just use the “Linux” brand to enrich themselves.”At the same time, as we noted here back in April, today’s EFF is shilling Microsoft proxies, giving EFF awards to Microsoft employees, and viciously attacking Richard Stallman for political reasons. Several hours ago Dr. Stallman wrote: “Cancellationists seek universal support for their political stances, not by convincing everyone that they are right, but by bullying everyone who states any doubts.”

They don’t even attack their target based on technical grounds; they look for some phony pretexts and sometimes distort the facts to get people online riled up, demanding removal based on misunderstandings, misinterpretation, or selective (narrow) focus.

To me, personally, the last straw was the EFF removing its co-founder John Gilmore with face-saving spin like “Board Member Emeritus”. They’re fine with truly troubling people inside the Board, but not the person who founded the whole thing! In the Linux Foundation pretty much every single Board member is an employee of a proprietary software company!

“In the Linux Foundation pretty much every single Board member is an employee of a proprietary software company!”In the video above I use Mozilla/Firefox as an example or as an analogy that’s timely. They’ve used similar tactics. Cancellationists (to borrow Stallman’s term) removed a technical leader for political reasons, putting in his place the people who abandoned Mozilla’s “open Web” vision, choosing instead to put DRM in the browser (Brendan Eich openly opposed this) and putting people from Microsoft inside their board. If Google wanted to slowly diminish Mozilla to nothing (that’s cheaper for Google, which pays based on the number of Firefox users), that would be beneficial to Google.

People like Jim "Open Source loves Microsoft" Zemlin and Mrs. Baker aren’t geeks, but they’re being put in positions of power, just like the EFF’s Cohn. The EFF’s IRS filings in the coming years (after the death of Barlow) will be interesting to read. Their donors gave them a lot of money, but whose agenda will be served?

To quote our Ryan, who is gay, “homophobe turned also proprietary browser vendor with DRM based on Chromium pushing crypto to crackpots.”

“Google sees this thing of making Mozilla rely on them as attrition. Every year they pay them a ridiculous amount of money to keep them hooked on the money while they lose more users. Eventually they just stop paying them any money and let what’s left of Mozilla die off. If they defy Google, they get cut off now. So they keep doing what Google wants and feeding on the trough, knowing Firefox is a dead end. It’s possible someone can come and fork the state of Firefox when Mozilla goes under and turn it back into a community project. It used to operate more like one. What scares the hell out of companies like Microsoft and Google, although they would never admit it openly, are communities. Because it’s easier to corrupt a corporation. You just go to the corporation and talk their language, money.”

08.07.21

When Tech Rights Go ‘Mainstream’

Posted in EFF, FSF, Site News at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 01510b0db4d7994b97ed86c4b8b1eddb

Summary: Our focus on exposing organised crime and criminals [1, 2] is generally being recognised; but the term “tech rights” also spreads a little further as the reach of the message broadens

This is a different kind of “tech rights” video. We start by showing an embrace of the term, this time by Doctorow from the EFF* (there were some British doctors who used the term several years ago) and then we end up landing on the FSF’s site, showing this latest blog post about software patents, including a discussion of the UPC — or putting a rogue, judge-hostile EPO in charge of courts — and this still-active “End Software Patents Wiki” (whose original maintainer no longer seems to be involved with the FSF). The video is spontaneous, it talks about our future direction and focus, and it commends the FSF and some of the geeks who are still at the EFF (there are elements in the EFF which we don't like, but the EFF isn’t a monolith so we’d rather not throw out the baby with the bathwater).

_______
* In “Tech Rights Are Workers’ Rights: Doordash Edition” he says that “[t]hough customers input their tips when they place their orders, the amount is hidden from drivers until they complete the job – turning each dispatch into a casino game where the dealer knows the payout in advance but the worker only finds out whether they’ve made or lost money on a delivery after it’s done.”

[Meme] Today in ‘Tech Rights’

Posted in EFF, Site News at 12:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

techrights-eff

Summary: EFF uses meaningful terminology which ought to be widely adopted

04.16.21

The EFF Attacks Software Freedom and Promotes Fake Privacy Linked to Microsoft

Posted in Deception, EFF, Microsoft at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

EFF MicrosoftSummary: Only weeks after attacking Software Freedom (the ad hominem way, which is easier) the EFF endorses a Microsoft-linked privacy abuse, misframing it as some sort of privacy champion

THE EFF has been hugely disappointing in recent years. It attacked some prominent journalists and bloggers, it gave awards to Microsoft employees (who attack privacy), and it now promotes a Microsoft-linked privacy scam called DuckDuckGo, even twice in 2 days [1, 2]. The EFF should really know better, but maybe it’s just into money (like the money it raises from privacy abusers) instead of principles.

“Pentagon-funded corporations funnel some of their money to the EFF.”Yesterday the EFF also spoke about “due process”, but the EFF does not truly believe in that either. That’s why it’s attacking the FSF and relaying defamation for trial by (social control) media. It’s actively attacking Software Freedom while today’s EFF staff promotes censorship, Apple Macs, and all sorts of “apps” that are proprietary software. It’s almost heart-breaking to see what the EFF has turned into, as I know people who used to donate to the EFF, which is now promoting fake ‘privacy’ by liaising with a Microsoft proxy (past EFF donors were GNU/Linux users). If the EFF is working for Microsoft proxies, what message does that send to past and present donors? That’s even worse than Startpage. Since the founder of the EFF died (one of 3 founders but nevertheless the leading person) the EFF has been a total catastrophe, living or milking off its past reputation. It has more than $40,000,000 in the bank and it seems like it’s looking for more money in all the wrong places. Does it even need donors anymore? Pentagon-funded corporations funnel some of their money to the EFF.

04.04.21

Has CC Become a Google Drone?

Posted in EFF, Free/Libre Software, Google at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week: The Open Source Creative Commons: Code of CONduct

CC money
Full text of “Full Filing” for fiscal year ending Dec. 2018 (latest available in ProPublica)

CC funding
ProPublica’s archive on CC (IRS filings). Notice 2016.

CC wiki

An elephant in the room: Sharing is caring, Cancel FSF
Rather similar to what Google did to EFF

Summary: With financial losses but still many millions in the bank (owing to obscenely large contributions; see EFF) CC seems to be working against the people who played a role in its very existence

03.27.21

A Factual Timeline of Attempts to Pressure the FSF Into Submission (Not to Promote Real Community and Freedom)

Posted in Deception, EFF, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux at 1:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An objective (based on underlying facts) assessment of what has happened over the past 5 days; a lot of energy was spent getting angry over the wrong thing, usually based on misunderstandings

THIS is one of those in-depth and detailed analyses that attempt to be almost exhaustive. It’s an important subject, so we’ve devoted a lot of research time to getting it right (on the facts). We’ve included everything we’ve stumbled upon online (we exclude social control media as that just doesn’t count). The goal is to get the facts right. The tone will be mostly neutral. It’s not impulsive and it took nearly a week to prepare. The goal is to give exposure to all views, even those we do not agree with (people rarely share the same views), and then fact-check them. Thankfully, there’s much overlap in the fact-checking because the falsehoods tend to repeat themselves (like the echo chamber social control media tends to be). This generally makes rebuttal a lot more concise (less repeatable argumentation). Off we go, in chronological order for the most part. But first, a few introductory words…

Introduction and Some Background

“We can see who coordinated this, but we’ll come to that later… as we present the hard evidence.”As far as we’re aware, we were first to report in textual form about the return of Richard Stallman to the FSF’s Board. People who watched the live stream tipped us about it in IRC, whereupon we mentioned this in social control media and then wrote a post, which would be updated 3 times thereafter, attracting nearly 100,000 visitors and well over 1,000 comments. Artem then ripped the relevant part of the video, re-encoding it in open formats and sharing the link in IRC for us to use. Then, people could see what Stallman (referred to as RMS from here onwards) had said. What’s interesting is what soon followed; it even took RMS by surprise, based on what he told me, but this was foreseeable and pre-planned. We can see who coordinated this, but we’ll come to that later… as we present the hard evidence. Corrections in case of misunderstandings or misinterpretations can be reported to us. We’re always correcting posts if proven incorrect.

Before we proceed to dealing with the chronology, we’d like to share some input from readers. It is always our readers who motivate us to invest a lot of time properly analysing issues; without them, there would be no incentive to do so (it’s pro bono, gratis; I don’t get paid to do this!)

A Word From Readers

“First,” one reader told us, “I want to thank you for Techrights. What I appreciate is the research and the thoughtful manner in which you post and report. I realize you have been hit by corporate threats many times in the past. Microsoft, IBM etc. There are a lot of underhanded things going on in our community, and we don’t want to lose Techrights!”

This reader has been involved in the Free software community for 3 decades. She knows many of the original members of the GNU/Linux community. “Your publication is only one I know of giving equal time to the voices of free software,” she said. “When Stallman was accused, I received several messages and emails (collab) warning as to not speak of the matter and distance ourselves – the initiator was someone who was at the OSI for over 15 years. I ignored the warnings. My future career was threatened and I know, this person was not the threat but… relaying the potential consequence of speaking out for RMS.”

We’ve repeatedly noted over the past week that you may not stumble upon many statements in support of RMS not because people do not support him but because they’re reluctant/afraid to speak out. To put it crudely, they’re censored or compelled to self-censor. Hours ago we were told that in Matrix people can get banned for speaking out in support of RMS — same thing that happened in 2019! We now hear stories about employers banning employees from expressing support for RMS/FSF, not because they hate him/them (respectively) but because the ‘online mob’ scares the businesses. They target businesses too, in a collateral damage/collective punishment fashion. It’s not pretty.

“Upon my decision to speak up,” (in support of RMS) the reader noted. “I lost a friend, and he sent me a very critical email where he criticized a post I made, to the capitalization of my name.”

“So, second. I realize the courage it takes… with so much to lose… to continue doing what you do, and I cannot express how important your work is/has been for a word lost in most other publications: community… I don’t have much to report on, I don’t have much to give. Now people know the Linux Foundation and OSI (among others) are not on the up and up as they once thought. Thank you for that!”

We’ve long noted that mainstream media, literally funded by those same corporations, never touches these subjects. At all. One can guess why. The same is true for EPO scandals because the EPO pays publishers to be complicit.

What Actually Happened

Not much happened last week. RMS returned to the Board of the FSF after a quick vote on the question/matter (that’s the actual news). Those who have followed us long enough probably weren’t surprised. RMS planned to come back at “the right time” and he was still involved in decisions up until now… albeit not at a public (or public-facing) capacity. One board member has since then left (Walsh), but given that another one was added (RMS) it’s probably OK. Large corporations have put massive pressure on the FSF and Walsh had voted against RMS returning. So in a sense this only strengthens the position of RMS inside the Board. Hours ago Mako-Hill (who left the Board in late 2019) shared his thoughts. A day or two after the announcement from RMS himself (“I have an announcement to make…”) the FSF updated the Web site with his name added to members of the Board. It then made a couple of statements to appease concerns politely expressed by some circles (such as KDE’s Board).

Now we move on. But before we do, let’s examine what actually happened and whether it was justified, based on the known (verifiable) facts. We should stress upfront that all those who said RMS was sexist because of a sign on his door basically relied on a prank (conned by a fake; circulated widely in social control media, never to be corrected or retracted) and media calling RMS “Epstein supporter” or anything similar was intentionally lying; that’s Bill Gates who supported Epstein. It was not RMS! In fact, RMS had called Epstein “rapist” for months prior to the ousting.

Finally, the Detailed Timeline

As noted above, we sort of ‘broke’ the news (in text, assuming IRC or a video stream do/does not count) and soon enough It’s FOSS wrote about it, unfortunately relaying the lie about the sign on the door at MIT (it was a prank). Some readers alerted us about this falsehood. Some time then passed and familiar (old) enemies of RMS re-emerged from the bushes, offering some more libel that they openly dished (we did a quick video rebuttal, hoping it was the end of that). The first ones to emerge were from a decade-long Microsoft booster, the person who shamelessly spread libel 18 months ago in ZDNet, and a publication formerly edited by Bill Gates himself (after he had spiked negative articles about him and caused the sacking of his exposers). We covered all this in the video, assuming this was the end of it all. But then rose an angry mob, emboldened by a bunch of mischaracterisations and outright lies about what RMS had actually said. We were unhappy to see this and started taking notes, recording every article or blog post about the matter. What follows is a complete list of our notes.

One speaker from LibrePlanet was not happy about the news. He’s entitled to that view. Whether it was based on facts or the above distortion in the media, who knows? Then, Microsoft-funded publishers amplified the news and OSI threw its hat, still reeling from its complete failure to even run an election (they could really use a distraction at that point). The community-led sites (not corporate front groups like OSI) were mostly positive about the news and prominent vloggers were happy. It was then that the Microsoft boosters (same as above) came back again with provocative distortions, shamelessly trying to remove RMS from the FSF and destroy the FSF in the process (collective punishment). They showed their cards. The same people who tried to cancel Linus Torvalds then ‘rallied the troops’ against RMS, basically getting a number of Debian Developers to get all upset (already several days after the actual news!). By that stage, the anti-RMS mob was already organising and inciting people, causing people to express views like this one and also upsetting people who had suffered abuse from that very same mob (same people, same methods). Sam Varghese wrote the first of about half a dozen posts inciting people against RMS (citing people from Microsoft!) and some conflated RMS interrupting a speaker to correct him/her with a threat to “safety” (we wrote many rebuttals to this false equivalence). We could still find more calm and objective coverage (Phoronix did not cover it at all; good way to stay focused, so well done, Michael Larabel), whereas Varghese egged on an angry mob. That FSFE joining in was hardly surprising given its role in 2019 and some of its funding sources. There’s an ongoing (albeit silent) feud between the FSF and FSFE, mostly about the name (we’ve exposed leaks to show this). Several developers spoke out against RMS [1, 2, 3], but those were mostly the same people from 2019 (Andy Wingo joined them a day later). They just re-emerged for another round. So their names were predictable. It’s a re-run in a sense. The corporate media soon rejoined with Varghese doing his one-sided coverage and Microsoft-funded media misrepresenting petitioners (calling people who oppose Free software the “free software community”). Those who actually do support Free software were often described as just “pro-RMS” as if it’s a cult of personalities and nothing more. We then saw the GNU Chinese Translators Team firmly behind RMS. Not many GNU developers dissented, except those who did so the last time. Some people even trolled mailing lists of GNU projects (links omitted for obvious reasons).

KDE’s Board issued a polite statement (which the FSF could amicably reply to with reassurances), whereas ZDNet kept boosting the angry mob, complete with the usual falsehoods (noted above already). As one might expect, the SFC took the same position as the last time, albeit it might be expected from a Google- and Microsoft-sponsored body (like SFC and FSFE). The actual users of GNU/Linux, including popular vloggers, were infuriated by what they called “Mob Mentality” although one prominent vlogger dissented (fair enough; we cannot always agree on everything). Some mainstream media falsely described some organisations as backing a petition just because some staff signed it (we’ve seen cases where institutions declined to sign it, but few members of staff did). By Thursday we’ve begun to see utter lies news sites, connecting RMS to Epstein. He blasted Epstein, unlike Bill Gates, who defended him. Later in the same day more of the same emerged [1, 2, 3] in media that is close to Gates and Microsoft. Sometimes with direct funding. Nice misdirection, we suppose… some readers described it as such. One site said (in the headline) that RMS is a “Scientist Who Defended Epstein,” but nothing could be further from the truth, based on the public record.

The EFF followed some staff that had ‘beef’ with RMS by publishing a blog post. Some people were enlisted by the GNOME Foundation (historically headed by people who later join Microsoft) to add their voices, possibly violating GNOME’s own Code of Conduct in the process (apparently leadership figures in GNOME are exempted from accountability/enforcement). Varghese said SUSE had joined, but there was no evidence like an official statement to back what he claimed. Anything to give an illusion of magnitude, we suppose (to make a loud minority seem a lot bigger than it actually was). Red Hat, which had not funded FSF for quite some time, pretended it was using financial sanctions while talking about the diversity of the FSF (Red Hat/IBM are even worse when it comes to that!). And guess which side Slashdot took, as opposed to Lunduke.

Drupal’s founder showed the effect of the misinformation. His description of what RMS said is borrowed from libellous reports, so the anger is basically based on a misunderstanding or media inciting him. A WordPress site did the same, misportraying (not by intention) what was going on. Many of these petitioners are not the “Free Software Community”; many people who attack RMS are typically those working for openwashing, including the OSI. Italo Vignoli (OSI) wrote something for TDF (Michael Meeks of LibreOffice appears to have changed his mind) and Varghese devotes all his time to amplifying what they said [1, 2], but we were starting to see statements in favour of RMS and the FSF outnumbering the rest, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4], not to mention this reactionary petition in GitHub (it can be signed from Codeberg as well and will inevitably outnumber the mobs’ petition in terms of number of signatures).

At the moment we’re seeing more blog posts in support of RMS than against him. The balance has changed and it seems like this whole thing is more or less over. RMS is still in the FSF’s Board. “And that’s how it is…” (to quote or paraphrase him). He won’t be resigning a second time…

Conclusions and Ways Forward

A later analysis of the petition commandeering the angry mob reveals:

Git shortlog (Top 10):

rms_cancel.git:
1170 Neil McGovern
204 Joan Touzet
46 Elana Hashman
41 Molly de Blanc

That says it all really, but affiliations matter as well. So let’s help readers understand this better.

“Imagine if all that energy was directed at opposing European software patents instead of the founder of GNU.”Hashman is OSI and Azure (Microsoft), McGovern and de Blanc are GNOME Foundation and OSI. Starting to get the picture? Those are the people managing and rallying the ‘troops’. Today’s OSI dedicates most of its budget to GitHub (Microsoft) and the GNOME Foundation’s former heads (before McGovern) are Microsoft employees. It’s important to remember that…

Some now accuse of the GNOME Foundation of cyberbullying or call for the resignation of the ‘coup leaders’ (“GNOME Board Members Must Resign In Disgrace”). They merely divided the community for personal gain. Nobody benefits from it, except maybe their ego.

Gates and EpsteinThe rest of this weekend will be devoted to exposing EPO corruption and other patent-related affairs. Imagine if all that energy was directed at opposing European software patents instead of the founder of GNU.

“The European Patent Office is a Corrupt, Malicious Organisation Which Should Not Exist”

Richard Stallman

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