Bonum Certa Men Certa

'Telemetry' (Surveillance) Ought Not be Tolerated in the Free Software Community

Security cams



Summary: If software users learn to tolerate the inclusion of spying code -- however that's being justified -- then those users certainly fail to grasp the proposition of software freedom (which is first and foremost about users' full autonomy)

'Telemetry' is a marketing term (euphemism), mostly for marketing types who want to show off the number of users and occasionally what those users are up to. Many are up in arms about Mozilla putting more of this 'telemetry' nonsense inside Firefox -- a subject we covered here before (Mozilla also puts this code in Microsoft's proprietary prison, GitHub). They say they want to improve users' experience, based on their understanding of what users do (remote observation with supposedly 'anonymous' statistics, though it's clear some server gets IP addresses stored).



"If Canonical debunks the argument (or "selling point") that GNU/Linux won't betray your very discreet elements of life (like searching locally your photo albums), what will people think and what will freedom-respecting software advocacy look like?"Many years ago Richard Stallman publicly condemned Canonical (or Ubuntu) for allowing Amazon to spy on what GNU/Linux (Unity) users were searching for locally. He issued this condemnation after he and I had debated the subject over E-mail. Many years down the line the problem isn't resolved. My beloved text editor (yes, plain text) has 'telemetry' in it (albeit after controversy we're reassured that it's off by default; KDE's Kate didn't always have those anti-features and I've used it since 2004) though many people still use Visual Studio ('Code'; openwashing basically), which is proprietary software with 'telemetry' in it. Those who use text editors to manage confidential material don't want some cryptic process to send away data about usage (which can in turn reveal something about the work being done).

SecuriCamIf we keep silent, we may accidentally get across this false impression of indifference or even tolerance of spying. It can embolden companies like Canonical and even some KDE developers to do more of the same. We need more disputes and controversies over the matter; at the very least it serves as a cautionary tale, meaning that developers will think twice or thrice before implementing such malicious 'features' which nobody asked for. A few years ago Mozilla used its spying on Firefox users to justify removing RSS support from Firefox (Live Bookmarks), in effect participating in the "War on RSS" or the assault on an open, distributed, decentralised Web. Like Firefox's abandonment of XUL, there seemed to be no benefit to it... to the users. These increasingly "data-driven" companies hire from Microsoft and from Facebook while posing publicly as champions of privacy. "Free/libre" software and "privacy-respecting" software aren't the same thing, even if in practice any freedom-respecting software also tends to respect the privacy (an extension of freedom) of users. This was in fact one of the grounds of Stallman's condemnation. If Canonical debunks the argument (or "selling point") that GNU/Linux won't betray your very discreet elements of life (like searching locally your photo albums), what will people think and what will freedom-respecting software advocacy look like?

One core (and seminal) argument for "Free/libre" software was, we ought to put power at the hands of the users. Because if the user does not control the software, it may in fact be the developer (or developer's employer, government etc.) controlling the user. This argument has been valid since the 1980s. 'Telemetry' is an injustice in the sense that it embeds inside the code elements that give the developers unjust spying powers over users. It's a stepping stone towards non-free and user-disrespecting software.

Recent Techrights' Posts

EPO Staff Representatives Say It Has Gotten Very Hard to Get Promoted (Forget About Getting Rewarded for Hard Work)
This has long been a problem
Occupational Health, Safety and Ergonomics Committee (LOHSEC) at the European Patent Office (EPO)
nobody in EPO management ever gets punished for crimes, no matter how severe
Microsoft is Actually Quite Worthless, Its Valuation is Based on Lies and Consistently Defrauding Shareholders
Microsoft's future is not what Wall Street "tells" us
The Final Demise of Social Control Media May be Upon Us (It Ought to be Collectively Abandoned for Society's Sake)
If it keeps going down, prospects of a turnaround or rebound are slim
The Latest NDAA Amendment Can (or Should) Allow the United States to Remove Microsoft Even Faster From Its Infrastructure (Which Routinely Gets Cracked Completely by Russia and China, Thanks to Microsoft)
It's time to move!
 
Kathy Lette on Julian Assange Staying at Her Attic, Why His Release Matters So Much, and Jen Robinson Staying Over Yesterday
They talk a lot about politics, but the segment mentions publishers, including Rushdie
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 12, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, July 12, 2024
Microsoft Windows Down to a New Low in Canada (Only a Third)
Very steep decline a decade ago
Links 12/07/2024: EU/China Tensions and Ukraine War Updates
Links for the day
EPO Staff Reps: "Until now, Mr Campinos is still leaving the appellants in the dark about the exact content of the opinion of the Appeals Committee on the EPO salary adjustment procedure."
Campinos chooses to lawyer up rather than listen up
[Meme] That Time EPO Workers Were Panicking Because the Elevators Kept Getting Stuck
Many people forgot that
[Video] Julian Assange's Brother Gabriel Shipton on How the Convoy to the Airport Was Arranged, Being at the Beach With Julian Assange After Release (He's Doing Well), and How Taylor Swift Has 'Helped' Julian
At the airport he was greeted by many press crews, but they were not there for him. They were there because of Taylor Swift.
[Meme] Financial Disinformation From Chatbots Controlled by the Manipulator (Rigger)
ChatGPT, the media is starting to say you're all hype...
Links 12/07/2024: Nations That Already Ban TikTok and Russia's 'Shadow War' Online
Links for the day
Gemini Links 12/07/2024: Changing and the WIPO Lunacy
Links for the day
Let's Encrypt Continues to Collapse in Geminispace and That's Good News for Free Speech (Among Other Things)
due to the way modern Web browsers work, many sites have no option but to use Let's Encrypt or pay for some other CA to issue some worthless-but-glorified bytes
Microsoft Falls Below 20% in Montenegro - Plunging to All-Time Low
sharp drop
[Meme] The Free Speech Absolutist From Apartheid South Africa
What will it take for all sensible people to quit X/Twitter?
Linux is Displacing Microsoft and Replacing Windows in Germany (Android Surge and New Highs for ChromeOS+GNU/Linux in Germany)
Germany is upgrading to GNU/Linux, not to latest Windows
Reorganising for Better Efficiency and More Publication (Original Material)
XBox "journalism" these days is mostly slop (chatbot spew disguised as news), so studying this matter isn't easy
Software Freedom is Still the FSF
At the moment the best advocacy group for Software Freedom is the FSF
Links 12/07/2024: XBox in Trouble, Crackdowns in UAE
Links for the day
Gemini Links 12/07/2024: Make Tea Not War, Considering Guix
Links for the day
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 11, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, July 11, 2024
Links 11/07/2024: Intuit Layoffs, Companies Keep Bricking Products
Links for the day
Gemini Links 11/07/2024: Switch to a Dumbphone and Development Frustrations
Links for the day
Starting in 5 Minutes: Stella Assange on the Latest...
We might update this page with a WebM copy (local) if there is something important
The Race to GNU/Linux in Moldova
12 years ago Microsoft was still measured at 99%
EPO: Special Permission Needed to be Ill or Care for the Ill When Issuing Monopolies to Foreign Corporations is a Paramount Priority
It's 'production' 'production' 'production'!
[Meme] A Special Patent Office, the EPO
"I have no death certificate yet"
Links 11/07/2024: Internet Phone Book and Intense Mind Control/Censorship by Social Control Media
Links for the day
Andreas Tille, Chris Lamb & Debian sexism, not listening to real female developers
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
GNU/Linux Expanding in Russia, But Not Exactly Invading the Market
Russian spies work at Microsoft
[Meme] GPL is Still an Alien Concept to the Boardroom of IBM
stomp all over copyleft while blackmailing the FSF into inaction
ChromeOS and GNU/Linux Also Leapfrog and Surpass Apple in Kenya
ChromeOS is at about 1% there, so 6% total (more than Apple)
[Meme] Pay Cash, Avoid Hidden Fees
Cashless society means a less free society
5 Weeks Have Passed Since the Edward Brocklesby (ejb) Scandal or 'Gate' Started. Debian Has Not Yet Responded in Any Way Whatsoever (to Quell Concerns/Fears).
still an ongoing series
The Media Cannot Use the B Word (Bribe) Anymore?
That might "offend" Microsoft
99 More to Go (in 9 Days)
Unless the FSF extends the 'cutoff' date as it usually does
Microsoft Windows in Bulgaria: From 99% to Barely a Quarter
Only 15 years ago it seemed like Windows had cemented its 'lead'
[Meme] Changing How We Think of Patents
they're only about serving and protecting powerful people
Our Most Productive Summer Since We Started (2006)
We have over 10,000 lines of written notes and drafts
Compare WIPO to ADR Forum
it is "rude" not to hire lawyers
[Meme] GPL Circumvention by IBM (Red Hat)
"GPL? All mine!"
GNU/Linux and ChromeOS in Costa Rica: Over 4% Now
Desktop (or Laptop) & Tablet & Mobile combined would be about 50% "Linux"
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, July 10, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, July 10, 2024
Links 11/07/2024: Space Programs, Education, and Mass Layoffs
Links for the day
Fellowship indexing pages by person
Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship
US State Department admitted General Hugh S. Johnson went off-topic, Andreas Tille called for punishments
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Gemini Links 11/07/2024: Shifting Interests and It's All Books Now
Links for the day