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The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Gets the 'Wikileaks Treatment' From MasterCard

MasterCensor



Summary: Harassment by proxy seems like a possibility now that funds to the FSF are being discouraged

Donations to the Free Software Foundation (FSF) are a dangerous or suspicious activity now (like post-Cablegate Wikileaks), at least based on this account from a reader/contributor of ours. Donations to the FSF are made more difficult now. Microsoft did this type of thing last year [1, 2]. Here is how the latest story goes:





Master Card called me about my FSF Subscription That's very strange because I've been making monthly payments for about a decade. Someone is doing something nasty to the FSF.

At 8AM, I got a call from the fraud prevention department of my credit card asking me to "verify some recent activity". I saw it in my email when I woke up about an hour after they called.

My Mastercard was robbed once before, so I checked online and called the customer service number printed on my bill. There was nothing suspicious in the online report or the last bill. I was not about to call the number left on my answering machine, which simply identified itself as "TOLL FREE CALL" It took some time to escape the menu, which was uninformative and dangerous because it wanted to change things. The key phrase "human being" did the trick and I was promptly routed to an operator at the fraud department.

The representative told me that my monthly FSF subscription charge had triggered the call and that means hundreds of false charges had been made in the FSF's name. When she told me the FSF charge was responsible for the call, I said that was strange because I had been making regular automated payments since 2004. She told me that the trigger was probably false charges to other accounts. I asked her how many false charges it would take to make such a trigger. She said that it changes daily but that it would probably take hundreds.

I can think of four explanations for this:

1. The FSF made a mistake in billing. Unlikely.

2. Mastercard wanted to harass the FSF. Unlikely but they have a history of cutting off funds to Wikileaks and can not really be trusted.

3. Someone made fraudulent payments to Mastercard on many accounts. That could be done maliciously or as a misguided help, the result would be the same and no one should do that.

4. Someone wanted to harass the FSF by setting up fake accounts to play games.

Whatever the actual reason, damage is being done to the FSF's reputation and it should never have happened to me. An algorithm that overlooks my long history of monthly payments is broken. Operators should be given the exact reason that a company has been labeled suspicious. The call was inconvenient and damaging. Further speculation added to that damage. Hopefully, Mastercard itself is not responsible for this and will get to the bottom of it.

I started a FSF Forum thread about this hoping to call the right kind of attention to the problem.

http://www.fsf.org/associate/forum/community/612250276


Discouragement through discomfort is an effective strategy. Proving this to be intentional is hard, almost impossible even.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols celebrates a decade of fighting back against SCO, whose funding from Microsoft is evident. Showing the intention or proving it is the hard part. With uncertainty or lack of concrete evidence, these attacks can carry on, little by little, proxy by proxy (one of the latest seems to be Nokia). Groklaw covers another curious attack, namely Oracle (a friend of a friend, Apple). The latest is this: "Google has now responded to Oracle's appeal in the Oracle v. Google API copyright case. Plus it adds its own cross appeal."

Copyrights were also used by SCO. In all cases, and wherever FOSS takes over, the intend is to tax GNU/Linux or impose a sort of blockade.

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