So, thir­ty years ago if you want­ed to get a new com­put­er and use it you had to sur­ren­der your free­dom by installing a user-subjugating pro­pri­etary oper­at­ing sys­tem. So I decid­ed to fix that by devel­op­ing anoth­er oper­at­ing sys­tem and make it free, and it’s called GNU, but most the time you’ll hear peo­ple erro­neous­ly call­ing it Linux. Please, please give us equal men­tion. Linux is the name of one com­po­nent, the ker­nel of this sys­tem. If you call it GNU plus Linux, you’ll give the prin­ci­pal devel­op­ers equal men­tion.

However, of course, we also with our com­put­ers nowa­days talk to the Internet, which is anoth­er way that our free­dom can be tak­en away. The Internet was orig­i­nal­ly designed with the idea that your com­put­er could talk with my com­put­er if we want­ed to do some­thing togeth­er, the end-to-end prin­ci­ple. But this has been trashed by a bunch of com­pa­nies like ISPs that don’t allow sub­scribers to receive con­nec­tions, com­put­ers designed to be so weak that the only thing you could do with them is use them as front end for cen­tral­ized ser­vices. And of course the com­pa­nies that set up these cen­tral­ized ser­vices to try to sur­veil peo­ple as much as pos­si­ble, and hand over all the infor­ma­tion they col­lect to the NSA. Which turns the whole thing into some­thing mon­strous.

So if we want the Internet to be some­thing good for human free­dom instead of the final cur­tain call for human free­dom, we need to fight hard. And above all we’ve got to beware of any­one propos­ing smart this or that that’s going to talk to the Internet, or the Internet of Things. Their idea I guess is that every appli­ance in your house would be yet anoth­er sur­veil­lance oppor­tu­ni­ty for the NSA. And also if it’s run­ning non-free soft­ware anoth­er way for com­pa­nies to con­trol you and prob­a­bly have bad secu­ri­ty so that lots of oth­ers can mis­treat you. I won’t let any of the things in my domi­cile be part of the Internet of Things unless it’s run­ning free soft­ware and set up by peo­ple I know I can trust not to turn it into a ten­ta­cle of sur­veil­lance.

And one of the things we need to pre­vent this is prop­er laws. That is, not the laws busi­ness­es want. For instance, if we switch from using land­line tele­phones to Voice Over IP, for that to be a step for­ward rather than a step back we’ve got to make sure that com­mon car­ri­er laws that apply to land­line tele­phones (except where com­pa­nies have suc­ceed here in pur­chas­ing the abo­li­tion of these good reg­u­la­tions) we’ve go to make sure it’s the same for any replace­ment sys­tem that we might use. Which trans­lates basi­cal­ly into net­work neu­tral­i­ty. We’ve got to have the total­ly clear and firm net­work neu­tral­i­ty, just as firm as for tele­phone lines. So, if you agree with any of this stuff, you might want to join the Free Software Foundation at fsf​.org.

Further Reference

Richard Stallman profile, Internet Hall of Fame 2013


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