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[libreplanet-discuss] We need clear advocacy for software freedom, not p
[libreplanet-discuss] We need clear advocacy for software freedom, not proprietary greenwashing
Tue, 16 Aug 2016 22:27:17 -0500
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There is a very mixed bag situation on medical device hacking, in that
yes, it is definitely possible to cause potentially life threatening
situations if one makes modifications the wrong way...
The problem with this argument is that we wouldn't accept this line of
logic for any other device. We've already dealt with this level of danger
and accepted it on a national scale. There's a strong history in the US
(and I imagine other countries) of people being able to modify their cars.
This goes back to well before computers were in cars. Cars have long been
known to be radically unsafe for both the passengers and the people in the
vicinity of the car (making what we've already accepted objectively more
dangerous than a medical device such as a pacemaker/defibrillator like what
Karen Sandler has) and yet we have no problem with car owners changing what
they like in their cars so long as the end result doesn't break certain
laws. As a result of car hacking we now enjoy a mix of hobbyists and
commercial garages some of which came up from people learning by
experimenting on their own vehicles.
We never let those potentially life threatening situations hinder someone's
access to fully control their own devices before and we ought not do so now
that computers and software are involved.
I think that what should be done at a minimum is to allow any
programming parameters to be changed, even if the program itself is more
thoroughly locked down, or more difficult to modify, while providing a
good and accessible set of information and warnings on what they do...
I am far from thrilled by the multiple 'Are you SURE?' checkboxes that
some proprietary O/S's put you through, but could see some level of that
on particularly dangerous parameters....
That's not software freedom and there's no reason to set such a minimum.
What you're describing is indistinguishable from highly-configurable
This fight has to be about software freedom, not half-measures like open
source; open source is a developmental methodology which is okay with
proprietary software and asking proprietors for a chance to help a
commercial developer improve a program. The free software movement demands
software freedom for all computer users on ethical grounds.
In terms of the medical device area, I think that it would be VERY good
to do something on the line of an open source hardware group for medical
devices. I have had a long time interest in trying to make better
chairs but have been worried about how to handle the regulatory and
liability concerns. Among other things, a collected knowledge base of
how to do things without getting into problems with the government
bodies dedicated to blocking progress...
Perhaps, if this group was interested in software freedom and not "open
source" and if membership isn't about identity politics (only people with
medical backgrounds can be members, for instance, thus negating any chance
free software activists would represent the group). Otherwise it would
become important to oppose any such group. Greenwashing (or as Brad Kuhn
put it, "openwashing") is a real problem with groups like this because
they're often corporate shills looking to preserve the status quo in
service to their interests and the interests of their employers.