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Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Proposal to revise FSDG to exclude SaaSS-only soft

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: [GNU-linux-libre] Proposal to revise FSDG to exclude SaaSS-only software clients
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2021 16:28:46 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/2.0.6 (2021-03-06)

* Richard Stallman <> [2021-04-12 07:27]:
> [[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
> [[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
> [[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]
>   > - Telegram Desktop communicates exclusively with SaaSS Telegram
>   >   servers, there is vendor's lock in, and there exist no free server
>   >   software that users can host it themselves and thus operated client
>   >   software such as Telegram Desktop with their own self-hosted
>   >   servers.
> That is basically true.  However, what that server does is not SaaSS.
> SaaSS means a server offers to do a compation for you that you could,
> in principle, do in your own computers without talking with anyone
> else.  A communication server is not like that.
> See

Yes, and I don't think you have defined well what you mean there with
"communication". Almost all software does this or other communication,
and all server software also does computations, definition is still
vague there. The essence of the article is freedom in user's own
computing, and that essence shall be followed when making decisions if
software should be included in FSF endorsed distributions.

There are various server side communication software that we need not
classify as SaaSS that are in that sense bad. One example I can think
of is SIP server where software clients can connect to company ABC's
server and communicate between each other or route their communication
to their phone numbers. SIP server DOES computing for the user, but
its essence is to compute for communication services, it does not have
direct computing. It routes communication.

On the other hand, SIP clients can connect to any other servers. That
is different context for FSF endorsed distributions. SIP client, XMPP
client, I think also Jami client, they all rely on some server side
software but users can use any servers they want and install their own
server software.

With Telegram Desktop, users cannot install their own server software
and modification of software how user wish and want would make
software not functional as vendor would block it or issue legal
threats. I know this is GPL freedom to modify it, and maybe render it
non-functional, but in the context of FSF endorsing such distributions
with similar software it is not aligned to what FSF promotes.

I know that Telegram Desktop is GPL licensed free
software. Modifications in some by Telegram company unwanted
directions, would be useless as client software does not have a free
server. It still is free software, but did we give to users' of FSF
endorsed distribution true freedom? I don't think so.

I am arguing why we are promoting software that is exclusively meant
to promote relationship to proprietary vendor SaaSS in FSF endorsed
distributions. Then we can find Skype plugins, and other several
software in the similar class, where we do not increase users' freedom
to host software themselves, because server side software is missing.

People can install such software themselves, such software does not
need to be distributed from FSF endorsed distributions.

FSF have already made various statements such as:

Free Software Foundation statement on PRISM revelations

Quote: "To protect their freedom and privacy, the FSF urges everyone
to contact their representatives, avoid Software as a Service, and
donate to support projects working for a better, safer world. "

But that politics is in contradiction that FSF endorses distributions
that promote software that is made exclusively to connect to PRISM
actors, such as Skype. If "FSF urges everyone to avoid Software as A
Service" and that is mentioned in relation to Skype, AOL, PalTalk,
Facebook, thus all communication software; then it is in conflict with
distribution of software using those networks from within FSF endorsed

More statements:
Quote "To protect their freedom and privacy, the FSF urges everyone to
avoid Software as a Service, and to support projects working for a
better, safer world."
Quote "Mass-scale surveillance like PRISM is disturbing, but is an
unsurprising effect of how centralized the Web is today. For years,
people have been trusting more and more of their data to remotely
hosted systems. Users are also giving up control of their computing to
Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS), remotely-hosted programs
that exchange data with users to do computing that they could do on
their own machines. In both cases, there's no way to see what these
servers are doing with your data, so you have to take the host's word
for it that they are being responsible. But these companies submit to
governments when they ask for your information, whether it's
ostensibly to fight terrorism or to stop unauthorized copying.

If we want to defang surveillance programs like PRISM, we need to stop
using centralized systems and come together to build an Internet
that's decentralized, trustworthy, and free "as in freedom." The good
news is that the seeds of such a network are already out there; as we
wrote in our statement on PRISM, ethical developers have been working
for years on free software social media, communication, publishing,
and more. Being decentralized means that these programs don't
concentrate everyone's data into a honeypot to attract snooping
corporations and governments. Being free software means that it's
harder for them to keep secrets from users, and that anyone can modify
them to remove features they aren't comfortable with. In fact, those
interested in surveillance have been known to require people to use
proprietary programs to make it easier to keep tabs on them."

Then there it says on same page "Don't use Service as a Software

> We recommand GNU Jami, which is fully decentralized.
>     > where that API terms dictate
>     > limits on how client software cannot be changed; this impairs users'
>     > freedom, but we are are, due to GPL3, free to ignore such further
>     > restrictions.
> That sounds bad, but it is vague.  Could you tell me more about these
> restrictions?  Have you studied what they say?

It falls into further restrictions though they are not clearly marked
in the source of Telegram Desktop, they should have bene.

Telegram's API terms:

Quotes and comments:

> We welcome all developers to use our API and source code to create
> Telegram-like messaging applications on our platform free of
> charge. In order to ensure consistency and security across the
> Telegram ecosystem, all third-party client apps must comply with the
> following Terms of Service.

When Telegram Desktop is changed, users are making third party
client. They cannot change it how they wish and want. But GPL3 allows
us to ignore such further restrictions.

Telegram company demands that software cannot be changed how users
would want.

> Developers are welcome to add new features or improve and extend
> existing Telegram features provided that these modifications do not
> violate these Terms of Service

> As a client developer, you must make sure that all the basic
> features of the main Telegram apps function correctly and in an
> expected way both in your app and when users of your app communicate
> with other Telegram users. It is forbidden to force users of other
> Telegram clients to download your app in order to view certain
> messages and content sent using your app.

> We reserve the right to expand these terms and guidelines as the
> need arises. We will inform client developers of such changes via an
> in-app notification to their accounts connected to the app in
> question.

GPL3 allows us to ignore restrictions of modification of software, but
Telegram API terms want to impede the freedom.


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