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Why American Corporate Software Can No Longer Be Trusted 240

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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:04PM (#38506992)

    How about instead of constantly changing usernames to escape your negative karma, you try learning how to form a coherent sentence?

  • by Presto Vivace ( 882157 ) <> 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.
  • "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 Script Cat ( 832717 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:33PM (#38507404)

    The difference is the ideas. The idea of America is being lost. What is leftover when that is gone is just another place. May as well be called just Homeland. The ideas that are traditionally associated with America are not espoused by those that use the term Homeland.

  • 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 Gonoff ( 88518 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @05:50PM (#38507614)

    This a mis-association a lot of FOSS advocates/enthusiasts have to deal with.
    Freedom can no more morph to equal 'piracy' than it can morph to equal purple or anaconda.

    I can use my freedom to 'pirate' IP, wear purple underpants or keep a snake but the fact I choose not to has nothing to do with my freedom or lack of it.
    My wanting freedom has nothing to do with wanting to do certain things that large corporations have had our legal systems changed to prevent. Just because people are very against those legalised criminals does not mean that they want to steal their Imaginary Property.

  • 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 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.


  • 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 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 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?

  • 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.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @10:24PM (#38510666) Journal

    BSD fans are the libertarians of the software world. They want full freedom in theory even if it means serfdom in practice, rather than a system which is less free in theory but delivers more freedom in practice.

Reactor error - core dumped!