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Openwashing Report: G.A.F.A.M. Surveillance and Military/Imperialism as 'Open' and 'Sharing'

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Weekly openwashing report



Summary: The (mis)use of the term "Open Source" to promote monopolies has become so profound that even corporate media such as Forbes takes note of it (but obviously defends the practice)

THOSE who've read the "Openwashing Report" series long enough very well know it's not focused on Microsoft or on large companies. It calls out every openwashing culprit we stumble upon in our research irrespective of size/market share. And G.A.F.A.M. (the 'big five') just happen to be some of the biggest culprits, Microsoft typically being the worst. Microsoft is also a bit unique in several ways. As we explained on August 20th:



There’s a common and perhaps deliberate misconception. We’re supposed to think that GNU/Linux is under attack from many large companies, but in reality there’s one single company standing to gain the most from a destruction (or hijack) of Linux. That company isn’t SCO but the company that subsidises SCO’s lawsuits against Linux. It’s also the only company that’s blackmailing, using patents, ChromeOS (GNU/Linux) and Android (Linux) OEMs, even in 2019. Those who don’t understand that are either indoctrinated or dishonest. Google isn’t the company that assaults Linux in court. Apple isn’t the company that started the “Get the Facts” FUD campaign. Amazon’s AWS is predominantly GNU/Linux and has nothing to gain from Windows. As for Facebook? It’s deeply connected to Microsoft. It’s problematic for a lot of reasons. Apache's Jim Jagielski used Facebook's abuses as a pretext for excusing Microsoft's.


As a general note, Techrights was primarily focused on Novell in the early days (when the site was small). Nowadays we're very much hinged on the key principles (e.g. software freedom/Software Freedom and software patents) and don't single out any particular company. It's important not to cheer for 'brands' -- Linux included -- but to keep in mind underlying ideologies and values.

"It's important not to cheer for 'brands' -- Linux included -- but to keep in mind underlying ideologies and values."FOSS, as in Free software, is nowadays used everywhere, yet software freedom is to be found almost nowhere. Due to openwashing, in our humble assessment, proprietary software is often marketed as "open" and "awesome", just because some code might be available. It's like false marketing. Clown Computing, as a side note, tells us that outsourcing our data and computing is "awesome" and a business would be a "relic" or a "dinosaur" for owning and controlling its own systems. The surveillance industry likes it like that because centralisation makes spying a lot more trivial.

The sad truth is that FOSS dominates, but at the same time freedom does not. Software Freedom (we sometimes capitalise it like that) is almost nowhere to be seen and general freedom (e.g. from surveillance ) isn't quite prevalent. Something needs to be done. Corporations do what they did to Hippies in the 70s. They tell FOSS people that they're winning; but actually FOSS is being taken over by monopolies.

Last month we wrote about openwashing of surveillance datacentres. Doing it the Facebook and Microsoft way (Open Compute Project), Nexedi and Hydro66 have just issued this press release. Classic openwashing! This is the kind of thing we've long written about it. "Open Compute" is hardly 'open' and it is hardly free/Free, either...

"The sad truth is that FOSS dominates, but at the same time freedom does not."Another nonsensical new buzzword of G.A.F.A.M. and the Linux Foundation is "Confidential"; pretty meaningless, right?

Calling mass surveillance "Confidential" (the very opposite!), as was done a few days ago in Computer Weekly, is an insult to the concept of confidentiality. "Companies committed to this work include Alibaba, Arm, Baidu, Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Red Hat, Swisscom and Tencent," it says. They call their surveillance networks "confidential computing..."

On Microsoft GitHub is where they put their code. Yes, GitHub! Which is in NSA PRISM...

But worry not; Microsoft tells us that GitHub will patch our software and code without intervention. Yes, always trust automatic patches (and patching) from the NSA and the company that puts back doors in everything for it.

""Open Compute" is hardly 'open' and it is hardly free, either..."Remember that surveillance is "confidential" now. Orwell would have loved it. NSA back doors are "Security" (the S in the acronym!) and War is "Peace"...

Let's dive a little deeper into new examples from the past week, starting with (perhaps) the biggest privacy violator, whose tentacles are all over Web pages and sometimes packet transmission as well.

Google



The "big G", one of the 'big five' or G.A.F.A.M., was mentioned here last weekend. We explained how it had spun various surveillance projects as "open". Media was happy to play along in a big way!

Not only is Google openwashing out of control. It seems to be in control of the media judging by the number of puff pieces to that effect (more than Microsoft even!). We can only guess that a Google News near-monopoly helps towards this goal.

"Not only is Google openwashing out of control. It seems to be in control of the media judging by the number of puff pieces to that effect (more than Microsoft even!)."Curiously enough, a year after Microsoft declared its intentions for GitHub Google still uses it, even for new projects. Back in the days Google had its own code repositories (Google Code), but apparently outsourcing even of Google's own projects is seen as OK now. Well, if you actually value privacy there or elsewhere, Mr. Google, you will pursue a host that is privacy-oriented (but of course you don’t/won't). Over the past week we found loads of articles like "Google open sources differential privacy dev library"; there's a whole array of others [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] with the words "Open Source" and "privacy" in the headline. Does it not bother anyone that this is Google and GitHub, which is proprietary software and in NSA PRISM?

"Google today introduced Neural Structured Learning (NSL)," said another new article, "an open source framework that uses the Neural Graph Learning method for training neural networks with graphs and structured data."

Google uses that for surveillance. We're supposed to think surveillance becomes ethical when the abuser 'makes up' for it by uploading some code to proprietary software (the Microsoft censorship machine called GitHub).

"We're supposed to think surveillance becomes ethical when the abuser 'makes up' for it by uploading some code to proprietary software (the Microsoft censorship machine called GitHub)."So Google surveillance is... open. Moreover it's for disabled people, such as deaf and blind people (we wrote about this pattern as well a week ago). Here's the latest example to that effect ("Google open-source software allows call and music streaming directly to hearing aids"). So if you oppose privacy-infringing activity, then you actually harm deaf people? That's the sort of PR tactic which listening devices ("smart" "assistant") companies gravitate towards.

Marketing genius. Google does loads of openwashing these days. Those who oppose? They must really hate people with disabilities! How dare they? Never mind the fact that “I put my code on proprietary software GitHub for “openness” or for Open Source” is a bit like “I gave you a braid of dead flowers because I love flowers” (not you).

Notice these patterns. They're becoming more widespread over time. Now let's look at Microsoft.

Microsoft



Each quarter that passes, each time journalists are back from holiday, there's fewer and fewer of them. And they do less and less actual journalism. PR liars (think along the lines of "Microsoft loves Linux") are happy to fill this vacuum. Microsoft exploits that too.

"Each quarter that passes, each time journalists are back from holiday, there's fewer and fewer of them. And they do less and less actual journalism. PR liars (think along the line of "Microsoft loves Linux") are happy to fill this vacuum. Microsoft exploits that too."Over the years we've taken note of Fossbytes, seeing how it gradually becomes an anti-Linux site. Ignore the "FOSS" part; it's a Microsoft promotion site, nowadays run by utterly clueless (or worse -- dishonest) people...

"Microsoft loves Linux" is the kind of lie they push there every week. They're also openwashing proprietary software of Microsoft quite routinely. They describe Microsoft as "FOSS". But they should stop repeating this lie. Because pretty much every big project/product of Microsoft remains proprietary. Microsoft didn't 'open up'. It's a paid-for PR campaign. Always fact-check and assess pertinent facts.

Just before the weekend we saw Adrian Bridgwater (Forbes) repeating these PR lies. He has long repeated Microsoft talking points about FOSS; when I pointed this out he threatened me. Once again he says "Microsoft loves Linux". He can say that all he wants (that's the price of free speech), but it doesn't make this PR lie any more true, just more crap being flung at a wall.

A Techrights reader too noticed this article and quoted from it the Microsoft-connected WhiteSource: "VP of product for open source security and compliance company WhiteSource David Habusha suggests that this shift is materially impacting the entire open source community, since it is nearly impossible for hobbyist programmers and smaller special interest groups (SIGs) to compete with these huge corporations, who have the money needed to develop and maintain open source projects at a higher level."

"Microsoft didn't 'open up'. It's a paid-for PR campaign."WhiteSource is part of this problem; WhiteSource works closely with Microsoft and badmouths FOSS every week. It glorifies and cherishes proprietary software monopolies with openwashing.

We've meanwhile also noticed that Microsoft is again openwashing the proprietary software HoloLens through GitHub (which is itself proprietary). It's a paid press release... it's cross-posted. Not too shockingly the Microsoft-connected propaganda networks (check ownership) were happy to participate in the openwashing of HoloLens. Microsoft, Open Source and HoloLens are all in the headline; never mind if Microsoft and HoloLens are both proprietary. As a reminder, Microsoft sacked all HoloLens staff when it bought the company; it then gave HoloLens to the US Army (to help kill people more efficiently). It is a relatively old controversy.

"As a reminder, Microsoft sacked all HoloLens staff when it bought the company; it then gave HoloLens to the US Army (to help kill people more efficiently)."If Microsoft buys your company, it's time to move on or risk being an active (complicit) participant in crimes and other immoral acts, shows history... nowadays a lot of Microsoft's business/operation is helping governments spy on and oppress people. This is an actual fact and articles around the world have covered this point reasonably well (not necessarily in English).

Yesterday we wrote about the way Microsoft is 'Linuxwashing' its surveillance devices that are plugged into Azure (much of that has been in the media lately); someone then told me, on that same day:

#Microsoft has also recently developed hardware platforms and SoCs where they are the only actor allowed to manage all the cryptography keys stored in HW.

This means that they will be able to sell licenses for cryptography as 'IoT service' and make sure system manufacturers and users will pay fees to use open standards and cryptography on their HW.

#Microsoft IoT plans are extremely obscure and well hidden behind their #openwashing campaign


Notice that the term openwashing -- which we coined more than a decade ago -- is spreading and gaining momentum. This is good because it helps communicate a particular issue in concise (one-word) terms.

Microsoft is, according to this, also openwashing PowerToys -- software that you can only run on proprietary software with NSA back doors. How open is it really?

"Notice that the term openwashing -- which we coined more than a decade ago -- is spreading and gaining momentum. This is good because it helps communicate a particular issue in concise (one-word) terms."This sort of 'propaganda' style of reporting is becoming far too commonplace. For technology (i.e. the whole site) ZDNet deserves treatment akin to that of Daily Fail (renamed 'Mail Online' in Britain to dodge hard bans; it's a really bad tabloid; not reliable and occasionally lying, intentionally, for hits). The site is full of Microsoft insiders who call themselves 'reporters' and it is owner entirely by CBS, which is a notorious megaphone of the CIA (new example here in 'Intelligence Matters', hosted by a former CIA chief in their prime time news sites/channels).

For CBS, in the area of tech (e.g. ZDNet, Tech Republic, CNET), it's also a megaphone of Microsoft (which helps commit crimes against humanity and participates in imperialism). Watch who they pick/recruit as staff writers; some are working concurrently at Microsoft, i.e. they're salaried by Microsoft.

Speaking of imperialism, let's look at Amazon.

Amazon



The openwashing of listening devices (surveillance which media calls "smart" "assistants") by the Pentagon-connected Amazon is a subject we covered here several times last month. Here they go again openwashing Alexa: "Amazon has turned its proprietary Alexa Skills Kit Command Line Interface (ASK CLI) into an open-source tool kit."

So-called 'tool kit'. Classic openwash.

"The openwashing of listening devices (surveillance which media calls "smart" "assistants") by the Pentagon-connected Amazon is a subject we covered here several times last month."Over at another CBS-owned tech site (Tech Republic), Mac Asay (now working for Amazon's AWS) is promoting "open source" as in pure exploitation (just what the employer does). He became notorious for his Microsoft propaganda (where he had also pursued a job) and he has become a foe of Free software. His latest article, "The key to open source sustainability is good old-fashioned self-interest," was mentioned to us by readers. Months ago he was defending Amazon's abuse of Free software projects. Shortly afterwards Amazon gave him a job. Coincidence?

ZDNet



After much hesitation we've decided to demote ZDNet like we did Ars Technica. To be frank, Ars Technica is a defunct Web site. They don't produce anything of value anymore. People other than us point this out too. Publicly!

Seems like their 'in-house pedophile' Microsoft Peter added fuel to the bonfire, harming credibility and morale. They pay the price for hiring and paying salaries to Microsoft 'moles' (who publish articles 'on behalf' of Microsoft's PR staff).

"They pay the price for hiring and paying salaries to Microsoft 'moles' (who publish articles 'on behalf' of Microsoft's PR staff)."Something similar now happens in ZDNet, a prime proponent of openwashing, just like its parent company. Over time we find less (and fewer) reasons to ever link to ZDNet's Microsoft brainwashing staff. It's a rogue bunch and it it weren't for some writers like SJVN, we'd probably just impose a mental block (like blacklist) of the domain. Funded by the likes of Microsoft to promote their agenda, i.e. corrupt 'journalism', the site has nothing to offer which favours FOSS. Almost nothing (except SJVN's articles). News from ZDNet (from yesterday and the past week) is all wrong. Exim has an important bugfix, for example, but the CBS tabloid ZDNet went with: “Millions of Exim servers vulnerable” (in the headline).

As if to imply millions of businesses have just been compromised and the sky is falling. This what happens when CBS hires trolls and drama queens like Catalin Cimpanu from Bleeping Computer (misinformation site, anti-FOSS bias). Many other writers have publicly complained about misinformation from Cimpanu; the same is true for Dan Goodin from Ars Technica -- to the point where Ars Technica actually got sued for defamation (over one of many defamatory articles from Goodin).

As we said at the start of this long article, journalism is rotting. People who care about truth say, "let's create a Web site about facts and news..."

"Openwashing, for instance, is Big Business. There's demand for it; rich people view that as a form of reputation laundering and this is how the Linux Foundation makes much of its money."Liars and lying opportunists say, "let's create a Web site that attracts funding from sponsors and advertisers to lie to the public..."

Guess where the money is. Openwashing, for instance, is Big Business. There's demand for it; rich people view that as a form of reputation laundering and this is how the Linux Foundation makes much of its money. Sad, but true.

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