03.13.22

Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XIX — The Collapse of Team Mono

Posted in GPL, Microsoft, Mono at 7:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists
  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement
  3. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud
  4. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IV — Mr. MobileCoin: From Mono to Plagiarism… and to Unprecedented GPL Violations at GitHub (Microsoft)
  5. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part V — Why Nat Friedman is Leaving GitHub
  6. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VI — The Media Has Mischaracterised Nat Friedman’s Departure (Effective Now)
  7. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VII — Nat Friedman, as GitHub CEO, Had a Plan of Defrauding Microsoft Shareholders
  8. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VIII — Mr. Graveley’s Long Career Serving Microsoft’s Agenda (Before Hiring by Microsoft to Work on GitHub’s GPL Violations Machine)
  9. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him
  10. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part X — Connections to the Mass Surveillance Industry (and the Surveillance State)
  11. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XI — Violence Against Women
  12. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XII — Life of Disorderly Conduct and Lust
  13. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XIII — Nihilistic Death Cults With Substance Abuse and Sick Kinks
  14. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XIV — Gaslighting Victims of Sexual Abuse and Violence
  15. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XV — Cover-Up and Defamation
  16. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XVI — The Attack on the Autonomy of Free Software Carries on
  17. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XVII — Backsliding Into 1990s-Style Digital Slavery by Microsoft
  18. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XVIII — The Story of NPM
  19. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The Collapse of Team Mono

GitHub: Where everything comes to die

Summary: Although much of Team Mono no longer works directly for Microsoft, we shall have to remove what it installed inside Microsoft; this includes Copilot, basically a plagiarism tool

ALMOST a couple of weeks ago we published the story of Mr. de Icaza's departure. ZDNet did the mop-up job for him, so don’t expect to easily know what really happened; not a single publisher has mentioned the arrest of Mr. de Icaza's friend Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley and publishers were in fact gaslighting his victims — a story which we shall tell later this year.

While this series has slowed down somewhat (due to a lack of time), it’s not stuck. There’s no impasse and we have literally thousands of lines of material in store.

Mr. de Icaza has said goodbye to Microsoft Corp. but he has not kissed goodbye the ‘Microsoft agenda’.

Laura and Miguel de Icaza
In spite of several people online accusing Miguel de Icaza of being gay, he is happily married with children, so we’ll refrain from propagating baseless gossip, rumours, and hearsay. There are many real issues for us to focus on instead.

The ‘Microsoft agenda’ includes attacks on the GPL, the revolutionary, ‘flagship’ licence of the GNU Project. Everyone who has read this series (hitherto lasting almost half a year) knows that there are aspects to that in Copilot. We’ve covered that in previous parts already.

As a short recap, Copilot isn’t an assistive, practical tool; it’s a GPL violation tool. It helps people remove themselves from liability or awareness of GPL infringement. That’s all it does. It’s like code search, sans the attribution/link/names (developers, projects and so on). Our source explained that “the original plan for Copilot sounded like a code auditing tool [but] Alex [Graveley] actually got mad whenever I said that’s what it sounded like…”

“Then I kind of looked into it and GitHub had an audit tool already,” the source noted. It wasn’t the idea of just one person; “Alex was saying that he and Nat [Friedman] had this idea. Honestly it was probably more Nat’s idea because Alex couldn’t really explain it to me in a way that made sense. He explained it as something that could find code based on the code you put into it and see if something similar was out there. He never used the words auto generate code for you, which makes me think he didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about…”

“This probably means that Team Mono, or specifically GitHub’s CEO (Microsoft’s decades-long stooge and mole inside our community), came up with this agenda, helping to push proprietary IDEs like Visual Studio.”So it was likely the idea of GitHub’s CEO and his longtime friend Nat Friedman, who left months ago — not too long before the rest of Team Mono!

This probably means that Team Mono, or specifically GitHub’s CEO (Microsoft’s decades-long stooge and mole inside our community), came up with this agenda, helping to push proprietary IDEs like Visual Studio. Microsoft cannot make money from GitHub (same issue as GitLab) without selling some clown computing stuff (“Azure”) or paid subscriptions. They try to teach people not to worry about GPL compliance, especially developers who can cause these issues without being aware (they think it’s some “Hey Hi” (AI) magic). “The original plan was to have Alex build it as a start up and then Microsoft would require it, which sounds a bit like fraud,” our sourced alleged, but “Alex was not in any place mentally to do this, as “Alex was in AA” (Alcoholics Anonymous).

“He also said that he had a pain killer addiction after a surgery,” the source added. “AA is a cult but that’s a different story [as] Alex has a history with cults. His parents were arrange married in Hare Krishna because they were top recruiters…”

“Oh God one day he had a panic attack… Because DropBox went from $24 to $18 in a day. He hadn’t sold any of his shares…”

“Have the goalposts been moved for the purpose of harming Free software some other way?”But the character of Alex aside (temper and drug issues), the above issue about GPL violations is very much relevant and it was discussed a lot by the FSF lately (over IRC and in papers published as well as funded by the FSF).

Our associate reminds us that “Copilot violates licenses, not only the GPL, but others as well.”

Sure, it’s a real attack on all Free software, not just the portion of it that’s GPL-centric or copyleft-leaning.

Code auditing tools are nothing new. Several other companies did it already, even 15 years earlier. Why slant that as “Hey Hi” (AT) all of a sudden? A war on copyleft/reciprocal licensing? And as an important side note, Miguel de Icaza openly complained about one such product (from Black Duck) almost 10 years ago. He said it was terrible and I still remember that.

Have the goalposts been moved for the purpose of harming Free software some other way?

“So I was reading up on GPL violations because I didn’t really completely understand the context of that phrase,” our source told us. “So I think the way that Alex described what he was trying to build with Copilot. [...] I think it was actually intentionally built with GPL violations in it. Because what he originally told me about it sounded like a code auditing tool. He said it would compare code and see if already exists. This was August 2019 so Github‘s actual code auditing tool had just been released.”

“So I told him that that product existed already. Then he basically told me I was stupid and we didn’t talk about it again. I’m not sure what he called me. It was pretty much constant at that point.”

“Copilot is most likely the mastermind’s (Friedman) way of attacking the Freedom of Free software.”Well, Copilot is no “code auditing tool” but a tool to encourage plagiarism and hide the evidence of it.

“Oh yeah,” our source added, saying: “I knew that worked at Samsung was on a project using something that for embedded software. I found it fascinating because I come from JavaScript where everything is plagiarized or open source anyways. It’s a lot more important for embedded because it’s almost impossible to fix later.”

We were told some unknown (to the public) stories about violations, but they fit better later in this series.

The good news is, Team Mono got sort of ‘orphaned’; it became too great a liability to Microsoft, which was trying to cover up several scandals at the same time. But it’s up to us now… to eradicate Copilot and anything which tries to emulate/replicate it. Copilot is most likely the mastermind’s (Friedman) way of attacking the Freedom of Free software.

[Teaser] Microsoft’s GitHub: Plagiarism Enabler

Posted in Deception, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 4:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Are you using GPL Licenced code? No, I use 'Hey Hi' code; Made by GPL

Summary: As we shall see tomorrow, the FSF ought to speak out against what Team Mono had done to us all while working for Microsoft directly (before it left, following an arrest and some certain exposé)

02.28.22

Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XVIII — The Story of NPM

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Security at 11:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists
  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement
  3. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud
  4. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IV — Mr. MobileCoin: From Mono to Plagiarism… and to Unprecedented GPL Violations at GitHub (Microsoft)
  5. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part V — Why Nat Friedman is Leaving GitHub
  6. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VI — The Media Has Mischaracterised Nat Friedman’s Departure (Effective Now)
  7. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VII — Nat Friedman, as GitHub CEO, Had a Plan of Defrauding Microsoft Shareholders
  8. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VIII — Mr. Graveley’s Long Career Serving Microsoft’s Agenda (Before Hiring by Microsoft to Work on GitHub’s GPL Violations Machine)
  9. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him
  10. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part X — Connections to the Mass Surveillance Industry (and the Surveillance State)
  11. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XI — Violence Against Women
  12. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XII — Life of Disorderly Conduct and Lust
  13. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XIII — Nihilistic Death Cults With Substance Abuse and Sick Kinks
  14. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XIV — Gaslighting Victims of Sexual Abuse and Violence
  15. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XV — Cover-Up and Defamation
  16. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XVI — The Attack on the Autonomy of Free Software Carries on
  17. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XVII — Backsliding Into 1990s-Style Digital Slavery by Microsoft
  18. YOU ARE HERE ☞ The Story of NPM

GitHub: Where everything comes to die

Summary: The time seems right to resume this series, more so now that the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) [1, 2] and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) [1, 2, 3] grapple with the legal chaos caused by Team Mono inside Microsoft’s GitHub

A few years ago Microsoft bought NPM through its tentacle (mind the pun!) known as GitHub, in effect controlling more of the “supply chain” while hiring NSA veterans to run GitHub. This is a major security fiasco, a blunder in the making. Remember that when NPM ships malware the media rushes to blame the victims (like GNU/Linux users who receive that malware) instead of blaming the company responsible for actually sending that malware. Meanwhile, with GitHub Actions, many projects have foolishly outsourced the build process to “the clown” — in essence losing control of the compiler, instead trusting Microsoft and the NSA to manage that for them. It’s a sort of subsidy (selling CPU cycles) in exchange for control. Who by? Microsoft.

It has been months since we published the arrest record of Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley, whom we’ll leave outside it for a moment. He has court hearings and it’s possible he’ll be behind bars for a very long time. Those who were connected to him or defended him have long regretted it, possibly left their job, or “resigned” to avoid public embarrassment. We’ll come back to them later in this series and maybe we’ll have some updates from the courts.

“Some sites announced that Microsoft had taken over NPM and that was it (they actually said “GitHub” to perpetuate the illusion that Microsoft and GitHub are separate entities).”As the state of journalism in general (not just on technical matters) is so appalling these days little actual investigation of the NPM takeover was conducted. Some sites announced that Microsoft had taken over NPM and that was it (they actually said “GitHub” to perpetuate the illusion that Microsoft and GitHub are separate entities).

A rather reliable source recently told us a few details about the NPM story; “I remember all that drama with TJ Holowaychuk leaving the NPM scene,” our sourced recalled. “Wondering if that was related to Microsoft acquiring NPM.”

What shocked me most at the time was the lack of press coverage or scrutiny. Like nothing actually happened! Or like it didn’t matter…

“A bit off topic but that whole event seemed strange,” our source noted. The motivation is still barely known or explored; it’s shrouded in mystery as there’s no actual business model other than taking control of people. NPM wasn’t about making money; the same was true about GitHub. The way we see it, Microsoft is trying to swallow all the code and repos as well (NPM). It’s about control.

“The way we saw it (at the time of the acquisition), NPM is a piece for Microsoft’s “supply chain” plan, which also helps the NSA’s objectives, especially at times of conflict.”TJ’s [Holowaychuk] departure “was a pretty big event,” our source explained. “At that point in time TJ had written like 60% of the node.js projects that everyone uses. Mostly by himself. Some people thought he wasn’t a real person for a long time. Like they thought he was a collective…”

The way we saw it (at the time of the acquisition), NPM is a piece for Microsoft’s “supply chain” plan, which also helps the NSA’s objectives, especially at times of conflict. They can remotely take over all sorts of things. Remember that they hired from the NSA for GitHub management. This is all very well documented. What sort of company would do this??? Heck, they can even plant back doors in downloads, custom-made or tailored to specific downloaders, never mind the above-mentioned compilation process. Why would anyone trust Microsoft after the NSA leaks? They work hand-in-glove with the NSA on back doors.

“TJ is just a legend and influenced my personal coding style,” our source told us. “There was another issue with the guy who originally wrote node.js [...] He wrote it then quit [...] Joyent hired him…”

“Ryan Dahl apparently thinks writing node.js was a mistake [...] Interesting he’s also from Rochester or just went to school there [as Graveley] is from there [and] they’re about the same age…”

NPM was acquired by GitHub two years after the Microsoft acquisition. It was mentioned by Nat Friedman on 16 March 2020.

According to our source, TJ’s “complaints about node.js mostly seemed technical, but who knows…”

As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that node.js and OpenJS became a Microsoft infiltration vector inside the Linux Foundation, as noted in Techrights several times in the past.

Now that the FSF and SFC are writing a lot more about Copilot (see links in the summary above) we intend to revisit the topic, probably some time next Monday. Graveley will walk into the darkness or some prison cell while we’re left to pick up and grapple with the damage he and his "best friends" the Friedmans have caused.

12.24.21

Alexandre Oliva’s Open Letter on Richard Stallman

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL at 9:21 am by Guest Editorial Team

Alexandre Oliva
Image source

Summary: The person whom many consider to be the ‘heir’ of RMS responds to common accusations, which are sadly not based on actual facts

The other day, I sent email to a celebrated feminist leader in the FLOSS community, letting her know about some good news I’d just come across that I thought would be of her interest, and congratulating her for some of her accomplishments. My email signature, pointing to https://stallmansupport.org, caught her attention, and she mentioned her disagreement with it in her kind and respectful response. I thought a lot about how to respond, and I’ve finally sent her the following response.

I’m sorry it seems to have been the most relevant part of my email to you. I almost took it out, suspecting you might differ and be offended, but I ended up leaving it there because I didn’t think you deserved dishonesty from me. This has been in my signature in emails I’ve sent out since May 3rd, and removing it didn’t feel honest.

I’ve been close to RMS for over 25 years. I, my wife and my daughter have hosted him a number of times, and arranged for others to host him a larger number of times. People who admire him, and people who hardly knew him. He was never easy to deal with, he’s persistent and often obsessed about issues that catch his attention. But harassment?

Harassment, to me, is ganging up on someone in a hate letter to bring them down. A hate letter that attempts to disguise its actual motivations by resorting to a bunch of shocking but false accusations, exaggerations and misrepresentations.

As for the experiences and reports you got… An FSF board committee whose members AFAICT all wanted RMS out investigated reports about RMS for over two years, before and after RMS resigned, and despite all the second-hand rumors, they could never get to any concrete findings. I have independently investigated various claims and invariably came to dead ends. Given how many false reports and ad hominem attacks on Free Software he’s been targeted with, it wasn’t at all unthinkable to conclude that this was yet another character assassination attack without substance.

He, clumsy, obsessive, meltdown-prone and sometimes harsh, as our shared condition makes us, has always been an easy target for this kind of discrimination. Besides, the movement he started and leads threatens various powerful monopolies, which makes him more of a target of such attacks. It’s easy and disappointing to see how his supposed offenses don’t seem to motivate action when committed by actual celebrities who work for the corporate forces who lead and who are served by the attacks on him.

Of course none of this proves him innocent, but that’s what’s suggested by the absence of credible evidence and the exclusivity of dead-end second-hand hearsay and fabrications. In case the people you know personally who have alleged harassment by RMS would like to report it to me, my opinion may change, and if they’re willing, I may pass it on to the FSF board. But, so far, what I’ve seen has been limited to false and dehumanizing allegations to support the discrimination of a person who fights for freedom and justice untiringly, without regard for much else, and with some traits that are hard for neurotypicals to understand or like.

I’m disappointed that someone like you, who purports to fight for justice and against discrimination, would join the beating up, let alone to label him a celebrity to further dehumanize him. But then, I have only my experiences to go by, not yours, and certainly not the reports you heard and chose to believe. Not knowing what they are, I can’t tell whether they justify mistreating him.

I can, howvever, tell that nothing justifies lying in false and exaggerated accusations: if the facts are not shocking enough to support that amount of mistreatment, fabricating alternative facts to carry it out doesn’t make them so. It rather makes the attack itself unjustified, disproportional and dishonest.

Subscribing ot the letter might be understandable in the height of emotions, but refraining from revoking the signature once it becomes clear that it’s no more than a collection of lies speaks a lot more about the moral alignment of the subscriber than about that of the target of the hate letter.

I hope these words and facts will find ressonance in your conscience and bring you to align your behavior with the rightful pursuit of justice and fight against the various forms of discrimination. Undoing the injustice you’ve been part of would be a long-overdue first step, even if other unrelated reasons remain to seek and pursue justice for or against this one person.

Happy holidays, and keep up the fights for good,


Alexandre Oliva, happy hacker https://FSFLA.org/blogs/lxo/
Free Software Activist GNU Toolchain Engineer
Disinformation flourishes because many people care deeply about injustice
but very few check the facts. Ask me about https://stallmansupport.org

So blong


Copyright 2007-2021 Alexandre Oliva

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this entire document worldwide without royalty, provided the copyright notice, the document’s official URL, and this permission notice are preserved.

The following licensing terms also apply to all documents and postings in this blog that don’t contain a copyright notice of their own, or that contain a notice equivalent to the one above, and whose copyright can be reasonably assumed to be held by Alexandre Oliva.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons License BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) 3.0 Unported. To see a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

12.06.21

Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IX — Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him

Posted in GPL, Microsoft at 5:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists
  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement
  3. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud
  4. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IV — Mr. MobileCoin: From Mono to Plagiarism… and to Unprecedented GPL Violations at GitHub (Microsoft)
  5. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part V — Why Nat Friedman is Leaving GitHub
  6. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VI — The Media Has Mischaracterised Nat Friedman’s Departure (Effective Now)
  7. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VII — Nat Friedman, as GitHub CEO, Had a Plan of Defrauding Microsoft Shareholders
  8. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VIII — Mr. Graveley’s Long Career Serving Microsoft’s Agenda (Before Hiring by Microsoft to Work on GitHub’s GPL Violations Machine)
  9. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot Sought to be Arrested One Day After Techrights Article About Him

Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley arrest warrant page 1

Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley arrest warrant page 2

Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley arrest warrant page 3

Summary: Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley has warrant for his arrest, albeit only after a lot of harm and damage had already been done (to multiple people) and Microsoft started paying him

IN THE LAST part we recalled “Team Mono” as we looked back at the origins of a high school drop-out-turned-Mono-booster and now GPL violations booster. What we need to deal with now is a lot worse than Mono, and it comes under the GitHub/Microsoft umbrella directly. it’s a war on copyleft, weaponising the userbase Microsoft acquired from GitHub before a lot of staff fled (especially around the time ICE scandals had come to the surface). GitHub is in a bad shape, there are internal scandals, but Microsoft doesn’t the public to find out. GitHub has managed to spike some articles or “kill” some stories earlier this year — a subject we’ll come to later in this series.

In the meantime, the latest news is that less than a month after Microsoft’s ‘Friedman cull’ the person who considers him his "best friend" has been put on the list to be arrested (local copy). That person is responsible for Tomboy (Mono infection inside GNU/Linux) and Copilot (an attack on the GPL/copyleft). Stay tuned; lots more to come.

11.22.21

Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VII — Nat Friedman, as GitHub CEO, Had a Plan of Defrauding Microsoft Shareholders

Posted in Deception, Fraud, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Series parts:

  1. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part I — Inside a Den of Corruption and Misogynists
  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part II — The Campaign Against GPL Compliance and War on Copyleft Enforcement
  3. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part III — A Story of Plagiarism and Likely Securities Fraud
  4. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part IV — Mr. MobileCoin: From Mono to Plagiarism… and to Unprecedented GPL Violations at GitHub (Microsoft)
  5. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part V — Why Nat Friedman is Leaving GitHub
  6. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part VI — The Media Has Mischaracterised Nat Friedman’s Departure (Effective Now)
  7. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Nat Friedman, as GitHub CEO, Had a Plan of Defrauding Microsoft Shareholders

GitHub: Where everything comes to die

Summary: The son of a financial tycoon probably engaged in embezzlement and maybe securities fraud; and this isn’t even the worst scandal, which directly impacts Free software

THE new CEO of GitHub has been on the job for only a week (as of today). As we explained in the past pair of parts, it’s safe to assume that ongoing scandals (not told by the press; it’s aware, but it’s suppressing publication) played a considerable role in that. This choice of CEO probably indicates where the company is going (more proprietary vertical integration) and was probably made in a rush, almost on the spot.

In later parts we’ll detail (with some evidence) the role played by the press, keeping these scandals under wraps by falsely assuming that women are liars and accused men need to be protected from embarrassment. Among the key culprits: Vox, Bloomberg, and Buzzfeed. What good are media outlets that are looking to appease sponsors and advertisers rather than the audience in need of journalism? What good is a corporate leadership that refuses to understand who it hires?

“In later parts we’ll detail (with some evidence) the role played by the press, keeping these scandals under wraps by falsely assuming that women are liars and accused men need to be protected from embarrassment.”“I don’t want to get involved” is not a legitimate excuse (direct quote by the way). If more information becomes available, we’ll also add some parts about the new CEO and what the past teaches us about the CEO’s future direction at GitHub, which is more like a trap than “free hosting”. As always, we encourage people to leave GitHub. The sooner, the safer. Make exit plans.

Nat Friedman should have known better, especially considering his father’s work. Friedman surely knew how this law works (he could ask dad), but he chose to ignore it; he got greedy (which wasn’t needed; he was very rich to begin with, even well before Microsoft). To put this in the correct context we’ll need to introduce readers, perhaps belatedly, to Friedman’s good friend, whom he used to get very badly drunk with (substance abuse will be the subject of much later parts in this series). The friend’s name is Alex and they’re pretty close. From their very own (still online) record:

Alex Graveley and Nat Friedman in Flickr

Alex Graveley and Nat Friedman

There’s more, but some of it is so old that it’s difficult if not impossible to find now. This pair goes well over a decade back.

We did not want to bring up Alex Graveley (or mention him by name), but that’s essential for those wishing to understand what’s going on. Or his current job title at Microsoft.

According to our source, Alex Graveley and Nat Friedman made a ‘pinky promise’; “he also said that the original plan for Copilot was Alex would start a company and work with Nat behind the scenes to build it to get acquired by Github, which sounds like securities fraud, but I’m not a lawyer…”

“So it seems like Friedman set him up for richness; but at whose expense?”Graveley and Friedman know who the source is, but that does not matter.

So it seems like Friedman set him up for richness; but at whose expense? By funnelling Microsoft shareholders’ money to a friend he likely breached several ethical rules (“make this company; do this thing; I will tell my bosses (Board and CEO of a company called Microsoft) to make this next move and we’ll give you lots of shares”).

If he instructs the employer to pay an old mate, that’s a very big deal. It makes one wonder what technical merit — if any — this thing has. It was acquired by means of nepotism, not really pragmatic interest, then hyped up in the media even though it’s worthless as a tool (some people have demonstrated this point). At Microsoft, they use that to push proprietary IDE (Visual Studio) and teach people not to worry about GPL compliance.

As our source stresses strongly, and more so repeatedly: “The original plan was to have Alex build it as a start up. And then Microsoft would acquire it. Which sounds a bit like fraud.”

“If he instructs the employer to pay an old mate, that’s a very big deal.”Well, that sounds illegal because it is. He’s playing with money that isn’t his own; he’s passing Microsoft shareholders’ capital to a friend, and maybe he can then get kickbacks off of him (one can only guess how the favour can be repaid).

Our source says that “this never happened, even if it was contemplated, [as] Alex was not in any place mentally to do this…” (based on texts, he had booze issues if not other, far more severe issues with heavy narcotics — a subject we set aside for later parts)

The Microsoft modus operandi has long been to attack Free software while giving the false impression that Microsoft means well and is a friend, a “co-pilot”. Don’t fall for it…

Securities fraud was in the books.

Wikipedia defines the term as follows: “Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of securities laws.

“…shareholders ought to know that they may have paid — or fallen — for a weak or defective product, merely for the benefit of the CEO’s friend.”It further notes: “Securities fraud can also include outright theft from investors (embezzlement by stockbrokers), stock manipulation, misstatements on a public company’s financial reports, and lying to corporate auditors. The term encompasses a wide range of other actions, including insider trading, front running and other illegal acts on the trading floor of a stock or commodity exchange.”

Assuming the above was true, as was heard directly by our source, Friedman sought to divert Microsoft shareholders’ money to a friend. Friend-man? Either way, shareholders ought to know that they may have paid — or fallen — for a weak or defective product, merely for the benefit of the CEO’s friend. This isn’t even the sole case of nepotism — a point we shall discuss later.

11.07.21

Opinion: The GPL and Politics

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL at 2:48 am by Guest Editorial Team

GPL meme
Daniel’s meme

Summary: Daniel from Argentina responded to our take on GPL enforcement and agreed for his message to be reproduced (along with the above meme, which he had made and sent to us)

Hi there Roy.

I saw your video about Mastodon, and would like to send you some comments.

It’s about the political side of Free Software: an aspect we have discussed many times by now.

I feel the video/argument is mostly divided into two halves: a first one about Free Software and some of its uses, and the second half more focused on Mastodon itself.

I agree with everything you say about the Mastodon side of the argument. I mean this: it’s more about power over speech and people’s political capital rather than about freedom, and I find your experience with it quite representative.
However, your reading about “how it all should really be” left me some doubts that I would like to discuss myself.

1. About the “political” aspect.

At ~12:40, you tell “this is problematic, first of all, because it contributes to the perception that FS is very politicized, and is going to great lengths to discourage adoption from certain political factions”.

Well… Free Software kinda IS that.

The “kinda” part (as in “debatable”, or even “wrong”) is that Free Software would never actually say something along the lines of “these political parties are prohibited from using Free Software”. I believe that’s closer to your point (what you want to argue against), and I agree with you that something like that would be totally opposite to the freedom FS works for, and therefore would be a misuse of FS.

Yet, you and I react that way any time any corporate agent gets its dirty hands in some FS project or organization. It’s not about “we don’t want Microsoft people to use GNU/Linux”: it’s about “Microsoft IS ENEMY of FS”. We don’t like them, we don’t trust them, we fight them, and that may not be on the philosophical core of FS but it actually IS in its historical core. We are, in a big part, also that: if not by philosophy, then by culture. And Microsoft is not and should not be the only such case.

And I don’t think there’s any hypocrisy in that. I think business corporations (as MS) and non-profit organizations (as the FSF) are very much “political parties”, even if they don’t go to elections for any state position. But both kinds of organizations work constantly for social changes (or against them), and that’s pretty much politics.

The point is always about “canonical political parties” getting all the credit for “politics” itself. That SHOULD NOT happen. That’s just the representational aspect of wWstern liberal democracies, which these days seem more like a bug rather than a feature.

Of course you start and end the video acknowledging a political side of Free Software. Yet, “politicized” gets in the middle of your argument over and over again. That word should be something more close to “partisan”.

I don’t think in English, so it’s tricky for me to figure out the details, but I feel like “politics” in English as spoken by people has a slightly different meaning compared to the people around me. It’s not like we don’t have the same problem here: it’s full of people telling you “this/that is not political, don’t politicize it” when you argue from some technical perspective against some political figure. That’s usually the case when legal stuff gets in the argument, or even scientific. But we also know very well here that there’s NO WAY of splitting politics from social criticism, no matter how technical it is: social action, whatever its nature, in the XXI century, is political, and whoever tells otherwise is quickly recognized as a negationist. And technical or not, Free Software DOES social criticism. Free Software DOES have enemies. Free Software IS NOT neutral: it favors freedom. And that is totally fine.

Yet, freedom comes with some attached issues.

2. About the weaponization of licences.

Make no mistake: it IS a problem. What you perceive and argue about in your video IS a very real and very core problem.
But, as I argued before with “political”, I also believe the GPL very much IS a weapon (in the metaphorical meaning you give to that word, of course).

“For freedom” may say RMS or the FSF: but everybody knows the dangers with weapons…

I’ve argued in other messages that the GPL is meaningless without enforcement.

It’s not actually “meaningless”: it means A LOT, as it guides people’s ideas and discusses stuff like property and sharing and rights. But that’s ideology, and you can do that by just writing books or preaching in any way; the GPL is a legal license, and that’s where it’s “meaningless” without enforcement. And enforcement is very much “a weapon”: you don’t do enforcement with smiles and balloons and candy, but with consequences of failing to comply.

The GPL beautifully shows that people breaking it are not stealing “property” or “money”, but other people’s freedom. That means many things: from allowing people to do stuff to questioning value theory. It’s brilliant, elegant, and absolutely necessary for social change, for the good.

Yet it’s also aggressive, and it imposes rules on others. Hence “weapon”.

Now, anyone can use a weapon, for whatever reasons. What do we do about that?

It’s the same issue as “I don’t want my free software being used for ICE, smart rifles, surveillance, etc”.

I remember an RMS talk here in Argentina, about 2010, where someone from the Argentinian Python community asked him about that issue. “I don’t want my free software being used in killing people”. And RMS said “from a FS perspective, we have to let them do it”. You can imagine that didn’t result in happy faces.

“Freedom is technical” clashes with “freedom is political” very quickly in real life. And we (as a community) have different stands regarding that.

I’m on the wagon of “freedom MUST have limits”. I’m not sure HOW that crosses with Free Software (I think it does in several different ways, where I’ll favor freedom or restrictions depending on each case), but I’m absolutely certain it does. That problem in part touches your concern about weaponizing the GPL (“it should be used equally, not just against a political party”, yet enforcers are human beings with their own interests), but is much more important in other aspect of your argument: “Free Software as Free Speech”. And that’s where Trump gets tricky.

3. The case of Trump, and what he represents.

You said it yourself, about ~28:00: you don’t want anything to do with those free speech maximalists from Gab, because these people are malicious.

Yet you do, because you argue in favour of free speech (what they say they do) and free software (what they use, and also kinda do). They’re a shining example of everything wrong with “free”.

I would say it’s a blatant lie that gab is “free speech”, as we all know that “leftist discourse is not welcome” barely begins to describe what happens in that space.

Thing is, again, we do that too. We see nazi discourse and we discredit, mock, marginalize, or even ban. Those are not the same things (different powers for different people are involved in each action), but the social structure match: there are implicit and explicit rules for speech, and whoever doesn’t comply faces consequences.

So, from the point of view of the nazis, gab is “freedom”, I have no doubts about that. But if we do critical thinking, we can’t just replicate their logic with a straight face, and we need to face that our freedom of speech actually has limits.

When this issue comes up, you usually use the legal aspect as a limit: the death threat, for example. But I say that’s just naive. I have been defending for years strong freedom of speech online, on different spaces (mostly forums and IRC), even to the point of making banning a taboo of sorts. And over and over again the result is the same: the most rude and violent people make a home of those places with free speech, and everybody else just leaves. I myself was actually very rude, “truth” was the word that made that behaviour legit, and “technical” was always the criteria to discredit criticism: other people had to argue with MY technical points, and theirs were always off-topic from my perspective. And the other side was always full of actually wonderful people, that usually didn’t have the same capacity as I did for expressing or sharing their thoughts. Also people easily get hurt by words (REAL hurt), and this way I found myself over the years being an asshole in the name of free speech. Happens all the time, is a serious issue of free speech, and I personally will no longer face this with naive stances as I consider that would make me part of the problem. Spaces with different people NEED rules. Rules HELP people, even if rules take away degrees of freedom. And “no rules” has always the same consequence: a loud minority with more power than others.

You may disagree with this, and that’s OK. But it’s as empirical as your experience with Mastodon. Surely other people had other experiences.

And I bring this up because, while I think you’re right about Mastodon being used awfully, I also think you’re wrong about what to expect from it as “free software”, and therefore from free software itself.

You focus mostly on how somebody banned your user account because of your opinions and their political bias. But let’s consider for a moment the other two cases you also mention: the ones where some people over the Internet just drop the server to never come back. I would say that people bringing down its servers was irresponsible, because of the impact on the users (loss of data, the feeling that what they do online people care little about, powerlessness, etc) and the technological ecosystem itself (users getting away from this tech because it’s unstable, and so using other more stable stuff). And I share your lecture that all of that seems much more about the power of being admin rather than free speech or empowering users.

Yet again, the same happened decades before with forums and IRC channels: you give extra power to someone, and you get misuse of power issues. On the other hand, you give the same power to everyone, and you get any random person over Internet having the same weight as respected people on the community, and suddenly you have problems of quality vs quantity. And that’s just the beginning of it. Those problems don’t exclude themselves, and you can have both of them together and then more: factions, untold interests, honest irreconcilable dissent, new generations of users with different cultural baggage…

The admins of all that complex systems are usually just people that knew how to install and maintain some software: they know little to none about people. And the point is that this shouldn’t be about software, but about people.

I say “irresponsible” because to me people matter. But I also know that any random person over Internet may just want to administer some instance of a server for whatever reason, such as the ones which may not share my concern over people. “I wanna be an admin” is pretty much an OK thing to want, and “I’m tired of doing this” or “It’s not what I expected, I just wanna leave now” are OK stances too. Free software gives the power to that person to do that. That’s freedom too. And when we talk about that hypothetical admin: is this person “user”, or is something else? Is it OK to empower that person to do that kind of things, no matter what happens with the users of the online service?

Even RMS relativizes the value of Free software in remote servers from an end user perspective.

But my point is that real life puts limits to the Free software ideals, and add lots of complexity that naive stances simply can’t deal with. This are just some of them, and there may be many others. Now, you’re talking about “not making free software an anti-trump thing”, because Free software is not supposed to be that, and here I strongly disagree. This is a good example of my stance on the issue.

Trumpism is no joke, the far-right is growing worldwide, and the Internet is in the middle of it. WE, as the free software community, are in the middle of it: we’re the ones fighting against corporate power inside the software world. We’re the ones turning software into a political issue. We’re the ones talking about ethics and sustainability and people’s empowerment from IT. It’s pretty much irresponsible for us to try to be neutral when the corporate power of Trumpism gets into Free software: that’s already a wrong instance. But by the looks of it, things are so bad with the far-right worldwide that we’re kinda also living a civilizational crisis: nazis again, and this time all around the world, while tech makes them grow and grow by the day, and both global warming and inequality get worse by the year. This is the ultimate real-life limit Roy, and there’s no more room for neutrality here.

There’s always ideals: and there’s always also real-life. Science is supposed to be neutral, and technical, and most of all objective: yet, ask any person who studies science (not “a science”, but science itself, as in “sciences”), and the person will tell you that science is as political as anything else. Or take a look at the justice department of any country in the world, all of them supposedly objective and technical and neutral: full of contradicting normatives, full of lobbying and ideological mandates, full of politics. That’s not “corruption”: that’s the way they are, the way they work. Institutions are NEVER neutral, and never were: they favor values. And Free software favors freedom. We are NOT neutral.

You may be most likely right that GPL enforcers have their own agenda. But in your argument you don’t mention the issue of limited resources (so you can’t just go enforcing GPL against every single server online, therefore you have to cherry-pick your targets), and the fact that high targets may actually be a correct strategy (because of cultural impact of your work). And there’s also the fact that is not the same Trump or Bernie Sanders, and you may have pretty much different stances against each one of them without breaking any Free software ethical rule: I’m OK to have some anti-Trump enforcers, and if I were trying to argue your points I’ll more likely argue in favour of “also anti-Bernie enforcers”, and NOT “neutral enforcers”. Careful Roy, as you reject some very basic enforcer’s humanity traits by trying to defend technicality and neutrality, which is already a questionable idea. But then again, you do that when Trumpism is in the focus of the scene, and Trumpism is the “freedom” of Gab. And not only that, but Trumpism is also fascism: a clear limit to freedom. You may have defensible points, but I must warn you anyways to be very careful with the real-life limits of those arguments. There ARE limits to ideals.

4. Some final notes, mostly about politics.

“Free speech” has his history. It comes from the fight against the churches and kings. Science as we know it championed freedom of speech around the XVII century, but it had more to do with “against dogma” rather than the current idea of “I can say whatever I want”; they’re both very different things.

Free software shares some of that same history. It comes from a long liberal tradition. I’m talking about the left liberal ethos from the French revolution. Later the Cold War experience immunized the USA from Marxist influence, and so liberal ideology is the canon there: you have different shades of liberalism, and that’s it. If you have any “left” in there, it’s also liberal, like it was back then in France. And that’s the place where RMS grew up. So, his freedom imperative had a lot of cultural and political influence from previously-enabled and already-installed reasonings.

Yet, if you work on its logic, and read it from “empowering users” perspective (as you do in your video), Free software is pretty much classist: it’s about “people vs corporations”, and from there “workers vs capitalists” is less than a step away.

I prefer the liberal stance over the Marxist when it comes to talk about what people CAN do, because I don’t like the Marxist implications about work and history and what it means to be human: there’s some idealism I consider empirically and historically incorrect. However, the flaws of liberal ideology also comes from idealism gone wrong, with the uses of “freedom” being the main of such cases, and so I prefer Marxism when it’s about what people SHOULD do. And this is actually the case when almost every contemporary economic theory ends up being just liberal ideology made pseudo-science for business enthusiasts: Marxist theory shines there. And it’s also very useful in places where social responsibility is involved. Let me give you an example. Remember those Mastodon instances taken down by its admins, that I called “irresponsible”? The current liberal-inherited common sense would call those Mastodon instances “servers” or “services”, implying servitude and even a possible commercial interaction. Well… Marxist common sense would call them “means of production”, implying “that’s what people use in order to do stuff”, and would tell you to seize them, to not let such a thing in the hands of people that do not share your class interests. What would have happened to Free software if its people would have used those kinds of categories and reasonings, instead of the liberal-inherited ones, every time a corporate zealot came to our doors with shiny trinkets to offer?

Yet we’re not talking about economics, but about Free software. Let me tell you Roy: I HATE when people try to make that stuff about “it’s just technical”, and then embrace ideal rules as sacred scriptures and call that “freedom”. That’s not freedom: that’s dogma. That’s RMS telling lots of wrong stuff, even if he’s brilliant and actually the creator and rightful (and beloved) leader of our movement. That’s “systemd is ethical because is Free software”, that’s “we should let them do it from a FS perspective”. That’s the kind of rationale that feeds us bloat release by release of almost every single software we use: because if it’s Free software, then everything else is fine. That’s fantasizing that software culture can be limited to a bunch of rules and that’s it. And it’s not like that: it’s quite complicated and much bigger than the 4 Freedoms and “technical quality”, at least if we’re still talking about people.

And it is much complicated than liberal vs Marxist too. Because it’s also about psychology, biology, ecology, sociology, theology, cybernetics, arts, and so much more. What people can do with anything tends to be chaotic, and what people should do almost never can be reduced to simple rules. That’s the very history of human institutions.

Informatics is the way of handling huge real-time complexity: probably the main problem our current societies struggle with to survive; informatics is the way of sharing information of all kinds, from health care to arts; informatics is the way to predict future problems, to calculate just production and distribution of needed materials, to democratize participation in science and politics, to spread awareness, to connect people, to understand and fix diseases. And a giant chunk of informatics is software. And we, as the people that do ethics and politics from the software world, try to focus on the 4 Freedoms and the GPL uses, and that’s it? Really? “Neutral GPL enforcement” is a bigger issue than fascism for our community? Are we really discussing more about “privacy” than about capitalism? When are we going to discuss our own liberal-inherited agenda limits in light of real-life needs like poverty, climate change, overpopulation, and so on? Are we going to keep telling ourselves “it’s just about freedom” in front of all of that, as if software didn’t have anything else to say?

I feel that last paragraph can be very unfair to you, because I know very well that you’re a sensible person on those issues, you do write frequently about all that, and this time you’re just talking about a very specific thing and that’s all. I understand that. But I tell this as a more general idea, as something I feel must be said loudly to the crowd where you also happen to be. So please understand it’s not about you, but about the shared ideas and ideals on the software community in general, and the Free software community in particular. I believe we’re dealing with dogmas and inherited common sense that should be faced with critical thinking. I also believe right-wing corporations are much better organized than we are, and that they’ve learned with time to make us use our own weapons against ourselves (like the very GPL), by which we should be discussing what to do.

I believe the Free software movement must grow into something bigger, and stop trying to be so specific. Because we’re people in a critical infrastructure position for our time, and should think therefore with a more holistic and societal mindset. And I’m not talking about relativize freedom, but about mixing it with other equally important values, ending up in more core guidelines than the 4 Freedoms. Otherwise, I believe we’ve already seen everything Free software can do for society, and frankly I don’t think it’s helping very much these days: most likely makes things worse by allowing Trump zealots to clone Twitter, but this time with Apple EUAs and a free haven to the worst of our culture. That’s just simply too much.

11.06.21

Mastodon Has Turned Free Software Into a Mechanism by Which to Exercise Unjust Power Over Users

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 1c07755d75224bf3cc6be82724fc1112

Summary: Political agenda being advanced using Free software licences contributes to this idea that Free software isn’t truly free and there are political restrictions, however subtle or implicit they may seem

THE notion of Free software and the notion of free speech are closely connected. It’s about empowering users, it’s about emancipating people. But what happens when copyleft-type licences and (A)GPL-licensed code are being turned into a mechanism of control, just like proprietary software?

This is what we’re dealing with here…

“If we’re not careful, the Free software movement will be co-opted by people who don’t care about software freedom (or care about it but covertly look to advance some other interests).”So yesterday we wrote about the EFF turning 'rogue' or becoming more and more political (and corporate) instead of focusing on its original goals. The same thing seems to have happened within some factions in the Free software movement (FSF, OSI, SFC), as some people enter those institutions mostly to advance some unrelated — and very personal — political objectives. This inevitably divides the support base where this isn’t needed (we saw that also in Mozilla and the Linux Foundation) and generally weakens — or takes out of sight — the original goals. Yesterday we mentioned the article from The Register, which incidentally had the same problem. As Wikipedia puts it: “In December 2000, Magee suffered a heart attack. When he returned to work, he stated publicly that he disagreed with the editorial direction of The Register.”

If we’re not careful, the Free software movement will be co-opted by people who don’t care about software freedom (or care about it but covertly look to advance some other interests). They can start in small numbers, but if they grow roots they will take over, exercising political censorship by weaponising licences. This is the subject of the video above. To be specific, Mastodon seems to be helping Donald Trump by giving him more publicity that he deserves and leveraging selective AGPL enforcement, which can in turn embolden more people on the right (to “own the libs”; reverse psychology).

“We’re at risk of losing the advocacy line that says something along the lines of, Free software is free as in free speech.”This isn’t the first time I write about Mastodon in the context of political meddling. I wrote about it 4 years ago [1, 2] and last year I left the Fediverse altogether, as I had already lost 3 accounts there. It’s not even a matter of “wings” (left and right), it’s just a general issue with free speech. Mastodon has been trying to impose censorship and speech restriction at the code level, taking away control from users (who can themselves block/mute instances). We’re not talking about issues like promotion of crimes (law enforcement is another aspect, e.g. death threats); we’re talking about misuse of code copyrights to promote a particular worldview, akin to so-called 'ethical' (in whose view?) source.

We’re at risk of losing the advocacy line that says something along the lines of, Free software is free as in free speech. Or about letting the users have control, rather than being controlled from above.

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