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Re: Free licensing of surveillance software

From: fischersfritz
Subject: Re: Free licensing of surveillance software
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2020 09:39:07 +0000

Aaron Wolf writes:
> Note that AGPL does not fully protect the freedom of users of server-run
> software. It is a fall-back / check and balance against abuse, but when
> you use software on a server, you cannot have full freedoms as you are
> not running it. See
> AGPL provides the capacity to check the code (to know what the software
> is doing) and to get the code to run elsewhere. It's certainly something.

Since you consider that AGPL does not fully protect user freedom, you
can consider that the license I seek does not fully protect user freedom

Aaron Wolf writes:
> The problem I was getting at is this: what scenarios could there be
> where the authors of software used in such surveillance *choose* to use
> this freedom-focused license?

They would choose this freedom-focused because the freedom-focused
license would be viral. This is the purpose of copyleft.

Aaron Wolf writes:
> Companies and governments that want to secretly surveil us will not use
> such a license for software they make. And why would free-software
> focused developers make such surveillance software in the first place?
> If the developers of such software don't otherwise care about freedoms,
> licensing won't help. We'd need laws to regulate such software.

Fischers Fritz wrote yesterday:
> I imagine that a well funded surveillance project would choose the
> alternative of writing a proprietary clone, but at least that would make
> the surveillance a little more expensive.

Aaron Wolf writes:
> But I might be paranoid as a user. Now anyone who steps in front of my
> camera could sue me if I neglect to post the notice about source access?
> That's much more broad than merely applying at the exact time that I
> distribute software. Suddenly I have some license liability every time I
> use the software…

I find it ambitious to account for paranoia in a software license.
Conveniently, I don't think it matters, because I have heard of many
people without paranoia who share the concerns you mention.

Regardless of whether the user fear is explained by illness, I gather
that a person with the fear you describe would choose not to install
the free surveillance software. This is by design.

Academic salutations,

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