10.19.21

Firefox Becomes as Morally Reprehensible as Apple, Facebook, or Uber

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 2:15 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Blake Ross

Firefox has been going down the toilet for years.

According to Wikipedia, Blake Ross, one of the original creators of Firefox (it was a fork of the Mozilla Suite, which sort of continues in a badly broken state as Seamonkey….It’s no longer packaged by Debian or Ubuntu due to unfixed security flaws), ended up working at Facebook for several years, and then resigning to go work at Uber.

Both of these companies produce spyware for “smart” phones that run in the background and swipe information about you in real time.

They pretend that they are a social network and an alternative to calling a taxi. However, Facebook is constantly reading your contacts list and text messages, and finding out where you are at, at all times, accurate to within a few feet, if you use their app on your phone.

If you don’t use their app, Samsung now puts Facebook “system services” in their phones that, unless you find them and disable them, also run in the background and use your battery and network to spy on you.

Uber does many unethical things. Recently, it was even caught checking how much battery life you have on your phone. If it’s critically low, the app offers you a higher price for a ride.

Richard Stallman has many pages on why not to use Facebook, Uber, or Apple. In fact, Facebook accused me of spamming for posting links to Mr. Stallman’s website on Facebook.

I barely use Facebook. It grows worse by the minute and so I just don’t use it much anymore. I have an account, but it’s only because they wall off everything if you’re not logged in because they’re competing with the web.

The other creator of Firefox, David Hyatt, left almost right away to take a job offer at Apple to work on Safari. Apple spies and so do very nearly all of the apps. It’s not a “private” alternative to Android, in fact, nearly two-thirds have Google’s tracking libraries, and almost all have at least Apple’s.

If you’re thinking “What odd places for people who are Free Software developers to end up.”, then you’ve made the mistake of confusing Free Software with the watered down alternative, called “Open Source”.

The Free Software side is interested in giving the user freedom to do whatever they want with their computer, and freedom from this sort of abuse by proprietary software companies and their spyware.

The Open Source people are only interested in source code being shared around as a way to develop software.

While most Open Source licenses are Free, and while most Free Software licenses are Open Source, the difference is important.

Even Facebook, Apple, and Uber do some “Open Source”, and some of it even ends up in GNU/Linux distributions. You almost certainly use some right now if you use a GNU/Linux system. In this context, those bits of code are at least probably not hurting you.

But the force behind the “Open Source Movement” are giant corporations who want free labor, and who appeal to the vanity of programmers in order to get it. If you license your program permissively to get “more users”, then those “users” might, in fact, end up being Big Tech companies who roll your program into Windows or the Mac or Facebook, and then use it to attack people and help nation states to murder them, or at least take away their other human rights.

Firefox is not Free Software. It’s not even Open Source anymore.

It includes DRM software that nobody is allowed to study, which is proprietary, and licensed from Google. If you even did go to study it, you might be committing a felony in the United States, and so reporting security issues with it might land you in prison, as those issues may allow someone to bypass DRM.

Mozilla allows you to view the JavaScript source code that they claim sanitizes your keystrokes of personal information, before being sent to an advertising company. DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Policy (which they themselves ignore) mentions that nobody who has claimed to remove personal information has ever actually accomplished that.

In fact, AOL, which is what Mozilla was spun off from, was sued for dumping user search information they claimed to have anonymized, and didn’t.

This raises an interesting point by itself, however. Malware can be open source. Just because you understand how the software they abuse you with works, doesn’t make it non-abusive.

We also catch Mozilla openly lying about data collection and retention. Here’s what the description for Firefox in Flatpak form says.

Mozilla statement

Should read: “At Firefox, we troll people who expect privacy with our misinformation.”

Description of Firefox in the GNOME Software Center taken from Mozilla’s official Flatpak.

Notice the “We never collect or store your personal data.” part. We’ll come back to this.

When Bleeping Computer asked them for a statement on Firefox Suggest, which is a malicious software keylogger that is on by default and sends your typing to both your search engine, Mozilla, and an advertising company, here’s part of their response.

Mozilla quote

So Firefox doesn’t collect your data according to Mozilla, but according to Mozilla, it collects your data. Then, according to Mozilla, it doesn’t store it. Except, according to Mozilla it does. And then according to Mozilla, they don’t share it, except that according to Mozilla they do.

They probably don’t technically “sell” the data that they “share”. The whole point of the scheme is to drive ads, and they are selling your screen to advertisers, and then they “share” the data with the advertisers.

My God, they can’t even keep their lying straight anymore. Did Donald Trump retire and take a job there?

Then to add insult to injury, they now develop all of their software on Microsoft GitHub, which routinely disappears and censors software repositories due to DMCA trolls and various governments with poor human rights records.


Doesn’t Mozilla say they block tracking?

Yes, like Apple, Microsoft, and others, they are working very hard on blocking OTHERS from tracking you. It makes the data that they collect worth more, either internally to force their own ad and spyware network (Apple) on app developers, or to command a higher price for the personal data that they steal from you (Mozilla Firefox Suggest).

Almost every article about Firefox 93 agrees with my position that Suggest is adware driven by a keylogger.

When I searched for news posts about Firefox 93, about 70-80% seemed to be about turning off Firefox Suggest.

While you’d have to be insane to do anything in your browser with it on, the “platform” is growing more hostile to your privacy and freedom by the minute, and it will definitely continue to get worse from there.

Nobody at Mozilla has any scruples. This is a quick cash grab on the way out. Like DuckDuckGo, they spent years pretending to be some kind of an underdog with a “Spread Firefox campaign.”.

One of Spread Firefox’s most enthusiastic supporters was Nathan Lineback, who runs a site called ToastyTech, and it included pages and pages devoted to how godawful Internet Explorer was and how Firefox was the solution.

I emailed him for comment about this, noting that Firefox has been slowly morphing itself into DRM with spyware and adware that also has a web browser in it. Here’s his reply.

Yea, I’ve been inches away from nuking my “firefox is good” pages. I’ve been sticking with a “New Moon” port for Windows XP, but lots of sites are breaking things for no good reason. I remember when one of the advantages was that Firefox was available for almost every OS out there. Crap like DRM and all of this compiling scripts to assembly makes porting that much harder. It really hurts because I used to actively promote Firefox. I’ve still got a bunch of stickers and stuff that the Mozilla folks sent me because I participated in their SpreadFirefox event for Firefox 3. I get so tired of not having control over technology I use. And even more tired of the attitude that I should just put up with it all like some kind of cow. Anyway, thanks for visiting my site.

Nathan Lineback, ToastyTech

He had posted to his rants page, previously, about another user who was fed up with Microsoft Edge, which is only slightly ahead of Firefox in overall nastiness at this point.

Edge now has a “feature” that tells you when you’re shopping for something and a big box retailer like Walmart or Amazon has a price that’s like $1-2 cheaper. When you click on it, there’s a GUID tracker that Microsoft uses in order to get part of the sale as a commission.

I’m guessing that “Firefox Shopping Assistant” isn’t too far away at this point. They’re probably just arguing about how much you’re worth if you’re part of the 3.5% and falling that still uses Firefox.

However, in this article, I have demonstrated that Mozilla has never been led by people who were diametrically opposed to spyware, human rights abuses, and surveillance capitalism. Firefox is the enemy.

At this point, they pitch a VPN, but with all of the shady stuff that’s been going on in there, would you even feel safe about using it?

I wouldn’t.

Firefox new tab
What goes on behind the scenes is worse than you think. Mozilla is selling you to advertisers. Here’s where they can pay to target you. Source: Buy Sell Ads. From the page: “This audience is always looking for new solutions to their technical problems. If you can convert them, they’ll undoubtedly tell their friends and coworkers about your product. The thing is, knowing where they came from isn’t always straightforward.”

10.13.21

No, JWZ, Discord is Not “IRC With Pictures”

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 7:36 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Jamie Zawinski made a comment about Discord basically being “IRC with pictures” somewhere along the way, but it’s actually not.

What Discord does is way worse. It pretends to be IRC plus all of these neat features, so that it can rope people in and centralize their communications, and log everything they do.

They have this thing that they call “running a Discord Server”, which is bogus, because you don’t run the server. They do.

This means that anything anyone ever does on Discord is subject to failure if the company goes out of business or has downtime.

According to Wikipedia, once Discord got enough people used to the free version, they started imposing artificial limits on what you could do, and then selling you subscriptions to get the things you were doing before. This is pretty typical of proprietary software, especially “web apps” like Microsoft 365.

When users got together as a community to make robot programs (like you could always do on IRC) to play Youtube music, ad-free, Google sent DMCA attacks and Discord removed the bots.

When people who had various political beliefs that were not popular among the fascist woke “left” started gathering on Discord, Discord promised to Cancel them.

(Did they, eventually do that? I don’t know, but the fact is that they can.)

We may disagree with other people’s opinions, but having opinions isn’t illegal in a civilized society. Woke trolls use Big Tech to silence their opposition and then again to whine and destroy them professionally.

Discord stepped in and disrupted Wall Street Bets, for making rich people look stupid and causing them to lose some money.

This is just a small list of things they can do.

With IRC, we’ll still have it in 20 years and know how it works. Governments won’t be able to tell the “IRC company” (there isn’t one) to ban end-to-end encryption, which government officials themselves use to prevent leaks, or to shut down servers that they don’t like. If they tried it, it could be hosted somewhere else. If you get banned on one server, you can go somewhere else. If your ISP or government tries to blockade it, you can use an obfuscated VPN or Tor tunnel and use it anyway.

Most tech companies just end up doing whatever the government tells them to in order to not have any of their own business activities suspended. In some cases, this includes being unmasked in order to be executed.

The first step in avoiding a trap, is knowing of its existence.

Discord is not “IRC with pictures”. It’s a trap.

Zawinski seems to be more of a hipster who made good on the dotcom hysteria and then went on to rest on his laurels, occasionally amusing himself by buying a bar, and some Macs, which he swears up and down work fine even though they lock him out of his computer.

(In a recent post, it wouldn’t even let him program software and compile it because Apple didn’t sign those make and python binaries.)

The Macs are (still) more buggy than any GNU/Linux distro I’ve ever seen, according to Zawinski himself. (Who goes on to quote problems in GNU/Linux that were solved 13 _years_ ago as reasons for hating GNU/Linux.)

I think he shouldn’t be listened to for advice about software and using it.

IRC can do all of the important things you need it to do, and it hasn’t gotten much fatter than it was in the 1990s, despite having a new version on the way.

How many things on your computer can you say that about? Remember how slow Windows 98 was on the internet, on dial up? Remember progress bars taking forever, and pulling down menus being painfully slow?

Why is it, today, that your laptop is thousands of times faster than your desktop PC was then, and yet it feels like we’ve made no progress at all?

Windows has gotten morbidly obese to the point even a new computer feels slow right out of the box, which is alarming, and something they use to drive hardware sales, even though they’re like a shittier Apple now. Your PC is three years old! Throw it away! Windows 11!

They throw parties for themselves. They pull a string and OMG MSFT! Joey, Michael Larabel, and SJVN dance for them. It’s sad.

But a few things certainly don’t need to get much fatter and more horrible as time goes on because they’re controlled by a community process (like some GNU/Linux operating systems), and IRC is definitely one of those things. Leave IRC alone! 😉

10.11.21

[Meme] Extreme Views About Software Freedom

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 2:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

See Elise Thomas Has a Straw Man Argument (and FUD Against Software Freedom, Conflating It With Violent Extremism)

Extreme FUD
Sounds legit…

Summary: Uploading extreme material? Blame Free software. Hosting a Web site with Free software? Blame Free software for serving extremist content.

Facepalm

Bug Tracking, Issue/Request Trackers, and Development/Collaboration (e.g. Git) Over Gemini Protocol

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Site News at 8:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum f5fa92a17e57f56dc310a916bdf59fc7

Summary: Gemini protocol (gemini://) is very suitable for collaborative work; here in Techrights we already make extensive use of Gemini, even for internal work, as the video above explains

THE growth of Git has been phenomenal. In just a few years it overtook svn (Apache Subversion), which I still used about a decade ago after CVS had been left way behind (almost nobody used it anymore, so my knowledge of that became obsolete; last release was 13 years ago). But in the age of Mantis and Bugzilla a lot of developers turn to the Web (as in World Wide Web and Web browsers) for bug tracking, putting aside atrocious traps (Microsoft vendor lock-in) such as GitHub “issues”, among other bits of proprietary lock-in. The main issue is GitHub Issues, among other capitalised stuff that seeks to replace Git (new terminology and trademarks, even “PRs”… or “MRs” as GitLab calls them). Don’t allow them to do it… their vision is truly malicious as we noted yesterday. All those bloated frameworks, which tend to include proprietary JavaScript and unnecessary complexity (e.g. GitLab and JIRA) aren’t truly needed for most projects. At the same time, the command line is typically insufficient, as browsing interconnected pages can help navigation and orientation. Gemini/GemText would be versatile enough for almost anything; no need for Web browsers that use up 100-200MB of RAM for just one open tab. We should note that although GitLab advertises itself as an “open” (or “free” or “libre”) alternative to GitHub, the FSF has curtailed plans to rebuild Savannah based on it. Richard Stallman is increasingly unhappy about the direction GitLab has taken, both for technical reasons and for licensing reasons (it’s dual licensed, i.e. partly proprietary, but they give some projects a ‘free’ ride for promotional purposes, never mind that growing requirement/strict necessity for JavaScript sent from the server to the client). For a lot of people, Git has become a bloated mess of frameworks — consistent with what has been happening to GNU/Linux and Web browsers. It’s difficult to study what’s going on where there are so many moving parts, including ones that you cannot control/access, e.g. CDNs such as ClownFlare instead of local caching with Varnish.

“Richard Stallman is increasingly unhappy about the direction GitLab has taken, both for technical reasons and for licensing reasons (it’s dual licensed, i.e. partly proprietary, but they give some projects a ‘free’ ride for promotional purposes, never mind that growing requirement/strict necessity for JavaScript sent from the server to the client).”In the summer we started a transition to our custom-made Gemini interface/s for Git. It’s all publicly available right now under the terms of the AGPLv3. As it turns out, based on this message from today, there’s also work on bug tracking over Gemini. Remember that it’s possible to submit user input into Gemini capsules (it’s not sophisticated but it generally works), so prototypes for online chat over Gemini have already been implemented athough without UNIX/POSIX streams it is more suitable for non-interactive mode (not real-time, either). “I find using GitLab horrificly [sic] expedient,” Jonathan McHugh wrote this morning, and “it would be nice to not be dependent on it. I am currently working on creating a GemText based issue tracker, leveraging git repos and a simplified directory structure.”

We spent some time earlier this year studying Gitea, GitLab and other Web interfaces; they’re all very bloated with far too many dependencies (even databases!), which render them a potential maintenance nightmare for relatively small projects.

“If you are a software developer and you pursue self-hosting (akin to self-determination), Gemini is a useful skill to have. It scales well and it’s easy to configure/setup and then maintain.”As noted in the video above, more geeks and coders now realise that project documentation and other aspects of development are better off managed over Gemini. It’s just a matter of studying the protocols and reusing available code. gemini:// is very simple for transport and GemText is so simple that you can teach young children how to use it, as mentioned in the video.

GemText reduces the potential of security breaches (Apache has made headlines again for security concerns) and it’s easier to diagnose, knowing there’s no CSS or JavaScript embedded anywhere. It’s just the Web (re)done correctly, with a modernised and enhanced set of features previously found in Gopher (a bit of a prototype in this context).

If you are a software developer and you pursue self-hosting (akin to self-determination), Gemini is a useful skill to have. It scales well and it’s easy to configure/setup and then maintain. This year alone the number of Gemini capsules rose sharply; it will have quadrupled by some estimates. That’s exponential growth.

10.07.21

IBM Declares Defeat/Failure, ‘Shuts Down’ Campaign of Anti-Richard Stallman Rhetoric (Defamation)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, IBM, Red Hat at 5:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No more Bully de Blanc (fired), no Deb (OSI, stepped down), no more IBM-led hate letter against an opponent of its darker agenda

IBM fail

Summary: IBM and Red Hat will now focus on getting medical records of staff* and forcing everyone to pull up the sleeve, unconditionally (the subject of ongoing uproar at IBM); This isn’t software freedom or even freedom in general. What happened, IBM? Got tired of removing signatures (that's all that was happening there; people removing their own names)? Looking for reasons to get rid of staff without announcing more layoffs and potentially without paying severance?

____
* Important note: I’m a proponent of vaccination, but not mandates.

10.06.21

Talks in France: Richard Stallman Talking in French in Two Places in France This Month

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF at 3:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dr. Stallman in France

Summary: Dr. Stallman’s ‘European tour’ continues and the next stop is France

AFTER speaking in Ukraine and in Poland last month (first public talks in 2 years!), Dr. Stallman is heading to France where he will be speaking in French (he mostly speaks 3 languages, English, Spanish, and French; he claims to also be able to communicate a little in Indonesian).

As per this page and this new post, “Richard Stallman will be giving a talk in Claret, France, on October 10.”

“The talk will be in french and the admission is gratis,” it says, “but you need to show a Passe Sanitaire or a fresh test.”

So there’s an option for those who would rather be tested than spied on.

The next talk is on Sunday. There’s another talk a fortnight from now.

10.02.21

Open Source Initiative (OSI) Leadership Changing, Quite Likely for the Better

Posted in Free/Libre Software, OSI at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 17ea55bffa7f1309cff0c7f16cb20529

Summary: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) changed its public faces and judging by what we’ve been seeing in recent weeks there’s room for hope because of the new leader’s history/track record

OUR Web site is not an enemy but a friend of the OSI. For evidence, which exists, look what we wrote about the OSI about a decade ago. It wasn’t always what it became in recent years (it could barely run an election) and we expressed concerns, amicably, when we felt like the OSI was going astray.

The new leadership is, on the surface, a step in the right direction. Last month we explained why, but some people might not be happy about this. As if the OSI must crash and burn regardless; the way we see it, the OSI was becoming like Linux Foundation but wasn’t quite there (yet). There was still a glimmer of hope, just like Mozilla (need to change management urgently).

Let’s hope we can get the old OSI back. Maybe it can even work with the FSF instead of against it (as happened earlier this year).

To be clear, I’m not concern-trolling and in the above video (totally spontaneous) I take a look at the current board and a bunch of other pages, including this new sponsors page, which lists Google and IBM, then Microsoft (twice). As a reminder, the Open Source Initiative is about 95% companies-funded. That was years ago. We doubt they’ve convinced many individual members to shell out more money since then.

The arrival of Stefano Maffulli as Executive Director of OSI and, as of days ago, the departure of a back-stabbing colleague, who had raised money from Microsoft and attacked RMS after receiving an award from him, is noteworthy. The condemnation of RMS wasn’t even based on actual facts!

Let’s try a fresh start, judging with an open mind the direction of the OSI, bearing in mind the intolerance of critics from the Board’s Chair, still attacking RMS on personal/political grounds, not technical, using pseudo-ethical angles while amassing corporate money, which is the real problem.

Whether we like it or not, for historical reasons OSI still plays an important role. The same is true for Creative Commons. Let’s try to fix them, not destroy them.

10.01.21

[Meme] Over-the-Web JavaScript Itself is the Problem (Someone Else’s Server Running Code on Someone Else’s PC)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 3:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Alex Oliva et al (including Richard Stallman) mentioning Gemini: Alexandre Oliva: The WWWorst App Store

Yesterday (by FSF): FSF announces JShelter browser add-on to combat threats from nonfree JavaScript | Keeping your freedom intact when registering or renewing as a DMCA agent

I told you. Just move to Gemini. I've made more JS.
Workarounds are not solutions. Maybe another approach is, let’s get off the Web (to the extent possible). There are also benefits for the environment and that scales well for residential connections (hosting from home, self-hosting).

Gemini near 1700 October
Gemini near 1,700 known capsules now. It’s growing fast. More of us adopt it [1, 2].

Summary: JavaScript as a concept (Web sites running code on someone else’s computer) is flawed; for more things we need to adopt and spread something like Gemini (where such a mindset is strongly and actively discouraged)

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