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Why American Corporate Software Can No Longer Be Trusted 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-out-for-number-one dept.
jrepin writes "There is a problem with proprietary, closed software, which makes Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the first Pirate Party, a bit uneasy: 'We get a serious democratic deficit when the citizens are not able to inspect if the computers running the country's administrations are actually doing what they claim to be doing, doing all that and something else invisibly on top, doing the wrong thing in the wrong way at the wrong time, or doing nothing at all. ... In the debate around the American Stop Online Piracy Act, American legislators have demonstrated a clear capability and willingness to interfere with the technical operations of American products, when doing so furthers American political interests regardless of the policy situation in the customer’s country."
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Why American Corporate Software Can No Longer Be Trusted

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  • by DadLeopard (1290796) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:03PM (#38506988)
    Well if you deal out Microsoft, Apple And Google, you are left with not much but Linux as an alternative! I for one would love to see this happen as resources and money would have to be poured in to make Linux distributions and applications that were world class!
    • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:05PM (#38507006) Homepage Journal
      I am increasingly of the view that Richard Stallman is correct, living in freedom means using free software.
      • You're assuming for a moment that future laws will not be written to ban such activity. Possibly enforced too via hardware. Even American based root CAs may all belong under a single Government agency. There's not a single industry in which politicians won't corrupt, control, rape, and pillage all in order to maintain a seat of power. They can not and will not leave well enough alone. To do so otherwise would leave a vacuum of power open to their rivals irregardless of the validity of such a premise.

        • Even Chinese citizens can access open source, the banning of open source the banning of the right to meet in the commons means tyranny plain and simple.

          If everyone moved to open source there'd be money to let true tinfoil hatters from around the world set up safeguards to keep information itself free.

          Brilliant minds will keep on inventing, they don't need a profit motive (but of course things run more smoothly when there is one, think usability for plebes).

          Get a hold on the financial system before we
      • The passage of time makes Stallman seem more right and less nutty. When he publishes a new short sci-fi story he seems less right and more nutty, then the cycle repeats.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:10PM (#38507070) Journal

      you are left with not much but Linux as an alternative!

      FreeBSD, (and other BSDs), FreeDOS, Darwin, Haiku, Plan 9, Solaris just to name a few. FreeBSD in particular is quite competitive with Linux, since many of the same GUI elements and applications will run on both.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:48PM (#38507580)

        Yes I'm sure Haiku will come up first on their list of OSes that people actually give a shit about. They'll probably implement the backend in Haiku, the frontend on Plan 9, and the supporting software on Solaris so that every one of you chucklefucks can jack off about the fact that someone actually uses your OS.

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          You do realize that people DO use some of these already? And while OS/2 isn't free, it is still be used years after it was "obsolete". It runs our PBX, and still some ATMs. Dell ships systems with FreeDOS as OEM software if you like. (I've used it, a little different but good.). Solaris, well, if you don't know Solaris, I can see why you didn't log in to post, although OpenIndiana is a better fork to use. Open or closed, lots of iron still runs Solaris.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:05PM (#38507780) Homepage

        FreeBSD in particular is quite competitive with Linux, since many of the same GUI elements and applications will run on both.

        Not quite true.

        For a very narrowly defined subset of hardware, FreeBSD is quite competitive with Linux assuming you're using DragonFly and not FreeBSD due to the erratic and insecure nature of ports maintenance.

        FreeBSD lacks the accessibility and support that Linux does. By "support" I not only mean community support and end-user documentation (or kernel architecture documentation which is correct/consistent/current, for that matter), but hardware support, which is spotty on quality even when the hardware is "supported". ("That's the vendor's responsibility", someone will say. Since when has that been fully accurate? Even MS has taken great efforts to make sure that there are good drivers for Windows.)

        Never mind that most applications which work on FreeBSD do so through a Linux compatibility layer which is kludged together, at best, and a maintenance and security nightmare at worst.

        It'd be nice to have an alternative, but FreeBSD proper is not it.

    • by pla (258480) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:16PM (#38507164) Journal
      Unfortunately, not even that - The recent debacle with Canonical/Ubuntu needing to pull the Oracle/Sun JVM pretty much demonstrates that we can't even trust FOSS, without completely disabling any form of updates whatsoever.

      That said, at least with open source, you have a chance of identifying and disabling the myriad ways a system tries to update itself. Good luck getting anything proprietary to stop phoning home, short of never connecting it to the internet (in which case it may just petulantly refuse to work, a la the annoying DRM in many games).
      • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:19PM (#38507202)
        That was FUD. Oracle is moving Java from the Java6 sdk to the openjdk, and this Ubuntu upgrade move you from sun java to open jdk... If you can live without update, don't do the upgrade. Upgrade Manager even tells you what it is doing.
        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:40PM (#38507482) Homepage Journal

          "If you can live without update,"

          The wife is doing fine on a three year old installation. Updating Firefox broke Pogo - or updating Java broke Pogo. One or the other. So, she nagged at me for three days to DOWNGRADE Firefox and Java, and there have been no updates on her machine since. If it breaks Pogo, it's bad, bad, BAD!

          • My ubuntu 11.10 is fully up to date, plus both Firefox and Java up to date and Pogo works fine! I do hope pogo is worth living with know security holes in your system!
            • Well, that's one of the nice things about Linux in general. Security through obscurity! How many times have we been told, right here on slashdot, that no one even wants to hack into a Linux machine?

              And, those known security holes on on HER machine, not mine. uname tells me that I'm not on Ubuntu at all: Linux sabayon 3.1.0-sabayon Since her machine has nothing of commercial or financial interest on it, I'm not about to fight with her about updating! At most, a hacker would get some personal details,

        • by pla (258480) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:15PM (#38507932) Journal
          That was FUD. Oracle is moving Java from the Java6 sdk to the openjdk, and this Ubuntu upgrade move you from sun java to open jdk.

          Yes and no... Given the more-or-less equivalence of the two JDKs, it means a minor nuisance for most people as they search the forums to figure out why Random App X inexplicably broke, and how to point their favorite toys at Open instead of Sun. Should they ever have needed to do so?


          Upgrade Manager even tells you what it is doing.

          To most people, an official "update" amounts to a calm reassurance that some geek-deities somewhere far away, perhaps Silicon Valley, perhaps Finland, perhaps Mars for all they know, have cast a spell that will make everything work out alright. Even among lower-tier tech-savvy people, very few would know whether or not they wanted to let the updater make the indicated change. Hell, even as a seasoned developer, I wouldn't necessarily know (prior to the change) what, if anything, would break as a result.


          I don't disagree with you in spirit, but the issue still boils down to having changes made semi-unwittingly to your system, for political rather than technical reasons. Not because it will give you the best long-term outcome, but because an agreement has expired between parties you don't even recognize as even remotely relevant to the state of "your" PC.

          And that I take as the heart of the FP's argument - We can't trust proprietary software because we can't know when a distribution agreement may retroactively expire, or a court may waves their wand-o'-justice to make P2P magically illegal overnight, or some government wants to censor any mention of Pastafarianism. None of those, except by my decision to play ball, should have any effect whatsoever on my PC that worked just fine the day before.
      • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:20PM (#38507220) Homepage

        Had The Oracle/Sun JVM been free-er, that move would have been unnecessary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's kind of hard to "rule out" Google when both of their operating systems and their browser are open source.

      (the OSs are both Linux-based, though, IIRC...)

      • Chrome is not open-source. Chromium is; but nobody uses Chromium, because it's basically just a crippled version of Chrome.

    • I would rather have an eternity of software freedom at hand. The Linux kernel is obviously robust, portable, capable, scalable, and proven. But in some distributions Linux is not entirely free because Linus Torvalds' fork contains non-free binary-only software (see the linux-libre project for a fully free Linux kernel). Also I'd hope for software freedom and not a particular approach (this OS, that kernel, etc.) because there are other free software programs that shouldn't be forgotten just because they'

  • "No longer"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lisias (447563) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:06PM (#38507008) Homepage Journal

    And it was ever trustful, in the first place?

    • Re:"No longer"? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:15PM (#38507146)

      I don't get the article.

      What does SOPA in the USA add to the fact that closed source software cannot be trusted?

      • by shmlco (594907) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:57PM (#38507700) Homepage

        I find this sort of thing rather amusing. You didn't trust closed source software...

        So you download ten million or so lines of source code from some anonymous server, written by thousands of people you've never met and will never know. You then build it using even more software and libraries and tools running under yet another OS, and you then install it on hardware with its own BIOS and roms and controllers.

        Hundreds of millions of lines of code you've never seen, and never will see...

        And yet the end product of THAT result is somehow more trustworthy.

        Right.

        • by PaladinAlpha (645879) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:36PM (#38508160)

          True or false: it's easier to audit software you have the source to, compared to software you only have a binary for.

          True or false: the source to a piece of distributed software is in the hands of many people.

          True or false: if one person finds a problem, they can find others.

          How would you feel if laws were secret? Yet, how often have you read through all the laws on the books?

          • by kiwimate (458274)

            1. How much of Linux have you audited? Go ahead, give me the LOC count...I'll wait.

            2. See 1.

            3. If they're qualified to, then yes, they can. If they do the audit. See 1.

            4. All the laws? Never. Some of the major laws that I know will affect me? Yep. And I've had the conversations with a police officer to make me grateful that I did. Mind you, I also read mortgages, fully, and ask if I don't understand something.

            Okay, back to #1. What's the answer? If it's greater than zero, then how did you audit it? What's y

            • by Ja'Achan (827610)

              1. How much of Linux have you audited? Go ahead, give me the LOC count...I'll wait.

              What's the maximum LoC anyone (outside the company) could audit of a closed source product?

        • Exactly right. You don't trust software, period.

          Example: Critical systems are not connected to the internet.

        • by jyx (454866)

          I find this sort of thing rather amusing. You didn't trust closed source software...

          So you download ten million or so lines of source code from some anonymous server, written by thousands of people you've never met and will never know. You then build it using even more software and libraries and tools running under yet another OS, and you then install it on hardware with its own BIOS and roms and controllers.

          As opposed to purchasing software made up of millions of lines of codes, bits and pieces of which were outsourced to who knows where and full of pre compiled secret sauce binaries and a giant tangle of interdependent licensing agreements?

          The way I see it, Its all about risk management.

          Most companies don't have a problem with using off the shelf generic software - mainly because they can swap it out without seriously impacting their business.

          But a western government spy agencies probably wont use Baido-Golde

        • by Lisias (447563)

          You seems to conveniently forget the recent past of this industry.

          I got an Apple ][, switched to //e for some years more and only then, in late 80's, switched to a IBM-AT running MS-DOS and Win3.11.

          My first Spreadsheet was Visicalc, my second Lotus 1 2 3 and finally Quatro Pro. I used to love Word Perfect. My "DOS" of choice was DR-DOS.

          And then everything started to break, except MS-DOS running Win3.11 WFG and MS Office. It took me almost TWO decades to understand exactly why, and it happened when the MS-DO

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:49PM (#38507594)

      No it was not, but that's not the point. Congress can order technology to restrict freedoms outside America. That was only theoretically the case before SOPA and similar bills. Now, there is no reason to assume that the American government is not interfering with any technology you can't inspect yourself.

      Or to remove the double negatives: Now there is reason to assume the American government is interfering with any technology you can't inspect yourself.

    • by drb226 (1938360)
      See also: RMS.
  • Is that you, Richard Stallman? Are you in disguise?
  • Recent SOPA decisions highlight the lack of technical knowlege in the legislative body of congress, yes. Also, they show how powerful lobbying efforts can negatively impact the legislative process.

    However, no evidence is offered in TFA that supports the major assumption that "American Corporate Software can no longer be trusted for anything".

  • We can trust that it isn't sending stuff back home without telling us - we can discover that because software not by that vendor is on the router.

    What else matters, really? If it's phoning home, we can detect it.

    If you're worried about data logging locally, you can always use truecrypt or similar to protect that from falling in anyone else's hands.

    • Unless the folks who made the software on the router are in cahoots with each other, or a third party. With all the secrecy behind "National Security" these days, I wouldn't put it past the government to try something like ensuring a router manufacturer designs a router to ignore attempts to log certain "phone home" data.

      Not that I'm saying they're doing that, but that I could see them doing that. I'd be very surprised if nobody in the government has at least considered it.

    • Re:Trust? (Score:4, Informative)

      by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:05PM (#38507788) Homepage Journal
      Re "If it's phoning home, we can detect it."
      The problem is not so much what is "phoning home" everyday but the carrieriq like layer between any shipped phone in parts of the world wrt https and all input.
      From 2006 "FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool" http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029-6140191.html [cnet.com]
      Before that you had the fun of the safe 56 bits and the Data Encryption Standard.
      More at http://cryptome.org/nsa-v-all.htm [cryptome.org]
      Products have shipped for generations before smart people began to discover what they had really installed and recommended beyond the accepted public math and low price.
  • I assume that you are talking about conventional software you buy and install on your desktop/laptop/tablet/phone. But what about cloud-based services (Salesforce, Google, iTunes, etc.)? They are exposing an interface and set of functions but the rest of it is not transparent. This class of software is probably where we should focus anti-SOPA efforts...
    • On one hand Slashdotters are yelling about how untrustable corporate software is, an on the other had they are yelling about how much they want the ability to hook up their personal laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. to the corporate networks when they go to work. WTF!? Come on guys, give your fucking heads a collective shake. What's it to be then, the corporate software is safe enough to expose your personal devices or it's ... what?

      This is why I never could fucking understand this "I want to use my own

  • Not even commenting on the article's content, is it really better to trust a pirate?
  • Running the numbers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thej1nx (763573) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:29PM (#38507342)
    One of the major arguments for SOPA have been the trillions of dollars of theoretical losses of sales by the Media companies. As has been pointed out repeatedly ad nauseum, these losses are only theoretical.

    But has someone on the senate actually done some estimation of possible loss of revenue, if the internet actually becomes splintered and USA loses its control? Or of even more foreign governments just turning to open source solutions, instead of to, say Microsoft? China, for example, is a big competitor already for the control of internet. They control a sizable part of it already. Let us say that they actually get it in their head to actually set up an alternate mechanism and act as the controlling authority? Even USA doesn't really dares to stand up to them... so all in all, we are talking of China ultimately controlling the distribution of said media/softwares, and who knows what terms they will set for the USA based companies?

    I will admit that chances of above happening are remote at the moment. But what are these media folks, and their employees in the senate, smoking? Why even take the chance?
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:48PM (#38507584)

    Security-critical environments are one of the few places where open source should be a must.

    • Security critical environments are generally constructed so that software is not trusted to be secure unless it goes through a very careful vetting process. So it really doesn't matter.

  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jjoelc (1589361) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:55PM (#38507672)

    We all know that SOPA is all about the money (I'll ignore the "everything is" argument, for now). Money the *IAAs feel they are losing, money the politicians have accepted in campaign contributions... Even the advertisements trying to drum up support for SOPA are about all the jobs (money) that will be lost if this doesn't become law...

    Every argument I've heard has been about ideals and technology... We all know how politicians and corporations feel about ideals. Freedom of speech, Impossible to implement, Would break the very foundation of the web, etc... All meaningless to these people without a dollar sign attached to them.

    This is the first argument I have heard that directly turns the tables. "Pass SOPA, and we will no longer trust any software produced by a US company." This would affect many more than just MS, Apple, and Google... How many PCs will Dell, (or HP, or Acer, or...) sell outside of the US if they are not allowed to sell them with (or without) Windows? If Dell et. al. are forced into producing computers with Windows installed for the US market, and %NotWindows% for the rest of the world, how long before they decide it isn't worth the effort, and just pick their favorite %NotWindows% for the entire line? How many jobs will be lost if no one in Europe is allowed to use Photoshop, MS Office, iTunes, AutoCAD,... The list goes on and on.

    Do I think this is likely to happen? Not really.. But it makes for a good advertising campaign against SOPA.

  • by brit74 (831798) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:55PM (#38507674)
    I read the article, and I can't figure out what he's talking about. Can anyone make sense of the article? Is he talking about some aspect of SOPA (stop online piracy act) that I am not aware of? The aspects of SOPA that I'm familiar with is the fact that the US will be able to disconnect domains based on reports of piracy on websites. Here's some examples of what I'm talking about:

    "[US] policymakers are not the slightest afraid of legislatively ordering American-run corporations to sabotage their customers in order to further United States foreign policy... Worded differently, the American legislature has taken itself the right to sabotage American products, boobytrapping them to enforce American laws and economic interests outside of its borders by directly sabotaging the administration of other countries."

    In what way does SOPA order American-run corporations to sabotage their customers to further American policy? It sounds to me like he's arguing that the US government is forcing Microsoft and Google to harm their customers - perhaps through destroying foreign documents or secretly sending state-secrets to the United States government. Is this some part of SOPA that I'm not aware of?

    Or this:

    In the debate around the American Stop Online Piracy Act, American legislators have demonstrated a clear capability and willingness to interfere with the technical operations of American products, when doing so furthers American political interests regardless of the policy situation in the customer’s country.

    In what way does SOPA interfere with the technical operations of American products?

    These quotes reflect pretty much the tone of the entire article, and I can't figure out what he's talking about. Earlier he talks about how everyone runs software from Microsoft or Apple. In what way does "taking websites off the internet" interfere with the "technical operations of American products [such as the construction of software by Microsoft and Apple]"?

    Quite frankly, when I read the article, I'm completely confused by what he's alleging is going on. It's all very vague and conspiratorial. I can't figure out if Falkvinge wrote the article half asleep, whether he's going off the deep end and falling prey to strange conspiracy theories, or if there's some aspect of SOPA that nobody's talked about (which seems unlikely, given the amount of press I've seen about SOPA).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Falkvinge here.

      I am referring to the fact that the SOPA debate has shown that US legislators won't hesitate for a moment to mutilate global technical resources if they can be used as leverage to project US trade interests, intensely disregarding the fact that severeign nations elsewhere have other sets of laws.

      Specifically, the seizure of Internet domains is a precursory example.

      Since the legislators have shown both a willingness and a capacity to regard anything happening on US soil as something that can b

      • by brit74 (831798) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @10:37PM (#38510754)
        That doesn't answer my question, does it?

        Let's take your claims and dissect them.

        I am referring to the fact that the SOPA debate has shown that US legislators won't hesitate for a moment to mutilate global technical resources if they can be used as leverage to project US trade interests, intensely disregarding the fact that severeign nations elsewhere have other sets of laws.

        Let's dispense with the argument that this is US legislators fighting for "US trade interests". This is about particular US companies pushing US legislators to fight back against a stubborn foe: global piracy. (Also, by framing it as "US trade interests" you're intentionally suggest a wider attack on foreign trade. If you set it up more accurately, it would be "unfair competition" because piracy is an illegitimate form of trade competition. Of course, if you talk about piracy as a form of unfair competition, you can't scare people because if you said "the US legislators won't hesitate to fight unfair competition" you'd lose the moral highground.)

        The US is able to unilaterally cut websites (both foreign and domestic) off the internet because they are doing something that many people find wrong, but other countries have semi-legalized. But, wait, what did you write in the article again: "[US] policymakers are not the slightest afraid of legislatively ordering American-run corporations to sabotage their customers in order to further United States foreign policy". What in the world does kicking websites off the internet have to do with forcing US corporations to sabotage their customers? What are you alleging here? Where is the sabotage? How does this "advance US foreign policy"? It sounds to me like SOPA is US corporations telling the US government what to do, and you're here telling us that the US government is telling the US corporations what to do. So which is it? Who is telling who what to do because it seems to me that SOPA is doing the exact opposite of what you're claiming in your article. I can see absolutely nothing to support your claims of "sabotage" in order to "advance US foreign policy". Since you brought up Apple and Microsoft specifically, could you please explain how and why these companies are going to sabotage you at the behest of the US government, why no US company can be trusted, and what this has to do with SOPA?

        Specifically, the seizure of Internet domains is a precursory example.

        A precursory example? You mean that nothing in SOPA supports your claims, but you fully expect that sometime in the future things will start happening differently to support your view of the world?

        Since the legislators have shown both a willingness and a capacity to regard anything happening on US soil as something that can be legislated into political leverage, at the expense of the customers and the US supplier

        First, define "political leverage" because I can't figure out how it makes sense in this context.
        Second, how is "kicking piracy websites off the internet" creating political leverage at the expense of the customers and US supplier?

        we must assume that cloud services and closed software can and will also be thus regarded.

        What in the world are you talking about? What, specifically are you alleging? Are you saying that the US government passing SOPA at the behest of corporations indicates that the US government is going to force corporations to ... what? Steal your state secrets? That's quite a stretch from "US corporations want the US government to pass laws to allow a crackdown on piracy websites" into a complete reversal "the US government is dictating to US corporations to sabotage customers and steal information from foreign nations".

        This, in turn, means that any nation serious about its sovereignty can't let its critical administrative processes b

    • by thej1nx (763573)
      Let me see... I have a site that does not violate any of the laws of *my* country... but a company in USA can just cook up a case and get it shut down regardless, in an instant.

      And all this because, the internet is controlled by USA. So does this law passes out of any US national security concerns? Does it take into account of juridictions etc? Nope. This is done at behest of some corporate suits, who want to buy yet another island somewhere.

      Direct implication : USA based companies are writing the US laws,
      • by bmo (77928)

        The logical response to this is for foreign countries to blackhole US sites after SOPA passes. Because it's the slap in the face my politicians need, especially jackasses like Smith, Conyers, Berman, Goodlatte, Waters and especially Watt.

        Watt, the asshole who actually argued from ignorance and used ignorance as a reason to vote for SOPA.

        SOPA will pass because the technophobes of the House of Representatives fully outnumber reps like Polis by an order of magnitude.

        SOPA is a declaration of war against the c

      • by brit74 (831798)
        You didn't answer my questions, either.

        My question was not "What's bad about SOPA?" or "What if US corporations can buy laws in the US?" My question is: "How does the SOPA situation (where corporations are pushing for US laws) allow anyone to conclude that software created by US companies is evil, will sabotage you, and under the complete control of the US government?"
        • by thej1nx (763573)
          Because if US companies are the ones writing USA laws, in total disregard for jurisdictions or possibility of abuse, etc. then it is entirely feasible that they can eventually move this up a notch and get a kill-switch enabled in say microsoft windows, MS Office. Oracle databases, whathaveyou and simply put the Competitor's entire network/infra-structure out of commission. "Pay up or we disable that oracle database, the moment it connects to internet for updates, license be damned".

          Internet, like say managi
  • Linux won't save you (Score:5, Informative)

    by brainzach (2032950) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:56PM (#38507690)

    Those who will be affected most by SOPA are those who rely on American billing, search and advertising services.

    It doesn't matter if you are running Linux, if you are hosting content that is flagged for violating copyright law, then you risks losing your advertising revenue.

    The solution to the problem is to use services in other countries than the US. Whether you are running Linux or Windows is irrelevant.

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:02PM (#38507756) Homepage Journal

    "Why American Corporate Software Can No Longer Be Trusted"

    This should read:

    "Why Corporatations Cannot Be Trusted"

    And I'm not sure TFA answers that very well.

    Today's global economic situation is not much different than that of 1932. After years if not decades of reckless investment, currency and market manipulation, leveraged investment, and rapacious profit-making, US corporations and banks conspired in a way that ultimately led to a economic meltdown.

    In 1929 they didn't need computers and software to do this. They needed a willing and complicit Legislature, courts, and government agencies. The results then are well known, as they are today.

    We started back down this path in 1999 with the repeal of the Glass-Steagell Act. Couple that with the continuous pressure to expand home ownership, a Federal Reserve inappropriately tasked with controlling inflation and economic growth, and lack of oversight into multiple industries (Accounting firms audting a corporation while their banking divisions floated the IPO, for instance) and you had the makings of a perfect storm. It came.

    Corporations, by design, cannot be 'trusted' to act in the 'public interest'. They need to be at least minimally regulated, if for no other reason than to prevent the most egregious abuses.

    What this has to do with software is beyond me. It's more than that, a lot more.

    • by thej1nx (763573)
      If your law makers are already this insane and so blatantly for sale, who is to say that they may not pass a law enabling a built-in kill-switch for say whatever proprietary OS or telecommunications solution is being used heavily in some other country, just so that they can enforce their latest extortion scheme?

      Any country with slightest amount of sense will dump US based proprietary software products immediately, and move to open-source to escape this.
    • TFA specifically is about why American corporate software can't be trusted - because of SOPA.

      As a result (of SOPA), American corporate code cannot be trusted from this day onwards...Therefore, the shift (away from Microsoft and Apple), needs to start as soon as possible.

      He then goes on to say don't shift to Android because that's also American-made. Again, it's referring explicitly to the rules imposed by SOPA.

  • Person who founded a party supporting the pirating of software doesn't like the corporate software business model. Film at 11!

    Seriously, why does anyone give a fuck what this person thinks, especially when his stance pretty fucking well known? You call this shit news?

  • "In the debate around the American Stop Online Piracy Act, American legislators have demonstrated a clear capability and willingness to interfere with the technical operations of American products, when doing so furthers American political interests regardless of the policy situation in the customer’s country."

    Not quite. Should read:
    "In the debate around the American Stop Online Piracy Act, American legislators have demonstrated a clear capability and willingness to interfere with the technical op

  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:31PM (#38508092)

    We can't trust any American corporations? Not even FSF?

    Ah, the title doesn't match the article.

  • Trust No One (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nwf (25607) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @07:32PM (#38508848)

    If you really want to get paranoid, you won't be using computers at all. You can't trust the software, even open source unless you've personally reviewed it all including the compiler. Even then you can't trust it unless you've reviewed the OS, BIOS and verified the design of all hardware in your system (including input devices down to the chip level.) Even then, you'll need monitor every byte of traffic on your network link (since even open software has vulnerabilities you likely didn't find in your review.) Still safe? No, because there could be listening and/or other devices anywhere, even inside the concrete blocks that make up your house. (e.g. a filter outside the street that modifies your network traffic.) Heck, even if you are Microsoft you can't trust your OWN software because there are too many cooks in the kitchen, as it were. None of whom were fully vetted.

    Basically, guaranteed trust is a myth. You have to trust some one and some things or you are basically useless to society and will die of starvation (trust your food and water?) This article is either the start of a scare tactic against US companies and/or a poor attempt at bringing some rational thought to congress. Even if the US isn't doing crazy things behind the scenes, I'm sure China and most other large countries are.

  • Makes you think of open source and how few abuses it has been applied to. Is it immune to abuse? Probably not but it seems that it's pretty hard to hide abuses in and generally does things that are good in the short term and great in the long term!

    Is it underfunded? Of course, it challenges the power elite who are terrified of an efficient transparent economy more than any act of war or violence.

    Is is tampered with? Surely. But on the whole it just keeps getting better and better!

Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders. -- Gauss

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