Free software guru Richard Stallman has been looking into his navel as part of the Free Software Foundation’s 30th birthday.
Stallman is president of the Free Software Foundation and launched the development of the free software operating system GNU in 1984.
The GNU/Linux system is used on tens of millions of computers today. Stallman also founded the League for Programming Freedom, which campaigned against legal threats to programming.
Writing in Wired, Stallman said that it is now 30 years since he launched the campaign for freedom in computing. He said that since he started, the IT scene has changed a lot, with most people in advanced countries owning computers and phones which can be like computers.
It still worries him that non-free software makes users surrender control over their computing to someone else. In fact, the situation has become worse thanks to Service as a Software Substitute, or SaaSS, which means letting someone else’s server do your own computing activities.
This was all highlighted by the Snowden scandal which shows that non-free software and SaaSS can spy on the user, shackle the user, and even attack the user.
He said that malware was common in services and proprietary software products because the users don’t have control over them.
Meanwhile, free software is controlled by its users and freedom means having control over their own lives.
However, Service as a Software Substitute causes the same injustices as using a non-free program.
If a person uses a SaaSS translation service they send text to the server, and the server translates it and sends the translation back to the user.
This means that you are entrusting all the pertinent data to the server operator, which will be forced to show it to the state.
If the users don’t control the program, the program controls the users, he warned.
The other difficulty is that non-free software forces others to use it as well. If you use the non-free Skype client, another person has to use it and surrender their freedoms along with yours, Stallman said.