16 September, 2010

On Russia...

Hi all!

Novell just posted a guest blog of mine on their corporate blog. Topic is one I have harped on before - basically, like I hope WNF feeds their employees fair trade bananas in the cafeteria and let them drive hybrids instead of hummers, I hope they don't run 'Mac Donalds' on their computers. IOW use Free Software - cuz it helps.

The blog was prompted by a pretty good article from the NYT (yeah, behind a pay wall now, unfortunately) on new tactics for quelling dissents by the Russian government by confiscating computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software. No, FOSS won't solve the 'evil government' issue. It might help however - and not only by giving them no legal reason to go after 'pirated software' but also by providing protection through TOR, GPG and other technologies...

Anyway. Read it if you like :D

Love, Jos


  1. Just FYI, it's not a paywall,the NYT has all its content up for free. It does require free registration.

  2. I think that both your description of the original problem and the proposed solution are not exactly right.

    The problem as you put it is that "Russian government has used software licensing to squelch dissent protests". To get the accurate statement, you should replace "government" with "police", remove the words "dissent protests" and also remove the words "software licensing". And then all auxiliary words as well. You'll get just "police ... squelch".

    The actual problem is that in Russia, police can visit any office to act on crime reports (which I presume is the case in every country), and they are also not responsible for any excessive interruption to business. So, if you take software licensing issue away, police can enter an office based on an oral report that you have adult movies on your laptop, and grab every computer.

    And the for solution, using free software would have prevented this isolated incident, but would not matter much globally. Also, how is TOR and GPG are supposed to help? I can understand how they can help Alice and Bob keep their secrets. However, the whole point of an activist group is to communicate to a lot of people. And if you communicate to 1000 people, at least one of them works for police anyway.

    So, while I like free software as much as everybody else, this is fairly incidental matter here.


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