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[liberationtech] Whatsapp, a Trojan horse for seekers of easy privacy?

Rich Kulawiec rsk at gsp.org
Sat Jan 17 03:24:42 PST 2015


On Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 10:19:22AM -0800, Al Billings wrote:
> The problem is that I am a practical person who lives in the real world.

The largest, most successful project in the history of computing has
been built entirely on open standards, open protocols, open formats,
and open source: you're using it right now to read this message.

That seems somewhat "practical" and "real world" to me.

Meanwhile, the "contributions", if I may generously call them that,
of the closed-source software vendors of the world constitute in toto
a lengthy list of case studies of worst practices in software architecture,
design, implementation, and maintenance.

> Telling people ???Throw away all of your Apple/Microsoft word
> processing and often software. Throw away all of your games. Throw
> away all of the software you bought because you can???t trust any of
> these.??? is going to be met with being ignored or marginalized and with
> utter derision.

I'm a practical person who lives (and works) in the real world, and
I've done so quite well for a very long time without any Apple or
Microsoft software.  (And of course games are, in the context in
which we are operating *here*, entirely superfluous.  Nobody is going
to bring a free press to Egypt or promote women's rights in China
by playing The Sims.)  I haven't used a closed-source piece of software
since sometime the last century (SunOS 4.1, if you must know).

This wasn't always easy: but it's gotten far easier and continues to get
easier every day.  It's really quite difficult, in 2015, to identify
a computing task which can't be readily accomplished by using open
source software.  (The problem these days, sometimes, is a plethora
of competing alternatives.  But that's a nice problem to have.)

I rather expect than in another generation or two the entire obsolete
closed-source ecosystem will be viewed as an unfortunate aberration
in the evolution of computing.  This will happen whether anyone wants
it to or not, because it's going to be *necessary* for it to happen
in order to ensure privacy, security, and integrity in computation.
Anyone who is paying attention and has sufficient background to understand
contemporary events can see this happening today, every time there's
a discussion about revision histories or deterministics builds or
software signing keys or security holes or backdoors/spyware.

And again, *in the context we are in here*, it's absurd to even suggest
that closed source software should be on the table for consideration.

> There is a reason Stallman is seen as a crazy wing nut
> and it isn???t just because he eats his own toe jam.

Those who see Stallman as a "crazy wing nut" have not been paying
attention -- or perhaps lack the analytical capabilities required to
comprehend what they observe.  Haven't you noticed?  Things that
Stallman says which at the time may seem outlandish have a track
record of turning out to be quite prescient in good time.
It's happened repeatedly.  Sometimes it only takes a few years;
sometimes it takes decades.  But one need only wait and watch --
and possess at least a rudimentary sense of vision.

	The greatest shortcoming of the human race is man's inability
	to understand the exponential function.
		--- Albert A. Bartlett

Stallman isn't often wrong.  He's usually just a bit early, and those
who lack the ability to extrapolate simply aren't able to process that.

---rsk



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