Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman has attacked Google's still-gestating Chrome OS, arguing it's designed "to push people into careless computing." Stallman – who created the free Unix-style GNU operating system – has never been a fan of so-called cloud computing. At one point, he called it "worse than stupidity …
So what's Richard trying to hide?
What does he have that he doesn't want the police having? And who's to say the FBI, CIA and so forth don't already have back doors into all our computers anyway ...
I'm assuming sarcasm
But if not, I'm fairly secure in the fact that a back door is useless behind an open sourced firewall...
You can be assured that
those three letters agencies already have a backdoor access into your Windows computer. It would be way much harder with Linux or *BSD. In case you were not aware this is the purpose of free software. It's not the software that's free, it's you.
As for having nothing to hide from the police, you're naively assuming the police and government agencies and their employees are 100% honest and the justice system is working correctly to protect your freedoms. I hope that looking at the Wikileaks saga you'll admit this is a risky bet.
I know what Stallman is hiding...
...his growing irrelevance. (and while I am a linux user, I expect fellow penguins to downvote me - but hopefully after reading the full post.).
Stallman has lived in a world where he fought the right to modify/enhance/etc the computer, just like you would be able to do so on a car or a piece of furniture you own. By handing over data to the cloud - you are no longer buying the car - you are renting a taxi. And you can't morally claim the right to modify the taxi. That upsets the worls view in which he was fighting and was relevant. Stallman and FSF would become irrelevant in a cloud computing world. That irks him. And instead of working on making FSF relevant where it is still applicable, he is throwing mud on the taxi. I, for one, expected better from him.
I concede that the issue he raises is not trivial - is your data better with you or in the cloud. I would say, for a geek like myself, its better with me. But I am not sure if my mom running windows is able to protect her credit card info better than, say, amazon. Stallman, having been surrounded by geeks like me for last 30 years, is unable to imagine users like my mom -who need the utility computing. Add privacy in the mix, and even geeks like me make mistakes.
Hide, all the Open Source Pr0n of course
Open source pr0n is much better quality than the stuff that the fbi can get their "hands on" and you are a lot less likely to get stds.
Hide, all the Open Source Pr0n
OS pr0n is known to be way better than the stuff that the Fbi can get there hands on
Have curtains on your windows, and a door to your bathroom? What are you trying to hide?
@AC - Re: I know what Stallman is hiding...
"renting a taxi"??
"can't morally claim the right to modify the taxi"??
So your saying that if I buy a ChromeOS system, I'm not actually buying it, I'm just renting it? Or do you mean that by putting my data in the cloud I relinquish ownership of my data?
If I pay for a device, it's mine, I own it, and likewise, if I put my data in the cloud, it doesn't cease to be my property. I'm not a fellow penguin, but you can still go fuck yourself!!!
Try thinking for a change
He didn't mean "if you put your data in "the cloud" you no longer own it" (even though that is in itself basically true - try taking Microsoft or Google to court for access if they claim "to have accidentally lost your data) he said "you lose control over it".
It might not mean much to you (even though it should mean a lot), but to some of us it's of paramount importance and it has nothing to do with the utterly childish assertion that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" (which historically is a poor excuse for state snooping).
Once the day comes when when the only place for you to store your data is "in the cloud" you will find that you are mugged for "storage charges" - this is the ultimate subscription model - you will be charged by volume, type, frequency of access. The software you need to process your own files will also be "rented" to you. You will a perfectly captivated slave.
First they introduce computers, then when computers are a vital part of every day life they take the means of local storage off you and make you pay and pay and pay.
But hey, it's OK, because somebody's Mom will find it 'easy' so f*ck everyone else eh?
@ AC 15.12.2010. 06:05
"likewise, if I put my data in the cloud, it doesn't cease to be my property."
AC, have you missed the "In the US, you even lose legal rights if you store your data in a company's machines instead of your own" part of his statement?
My private data are(*) my private data when they areon my HDD. When I put them on Google's server, they are no longer private.
(*) "data" is plural of "datum". Can any grammar pedant correct this foreigner if he's wrong? :-)
Re: I know what Stallman is hiding...
> is your data better with you or in the cloud. I would say, for a geek like myself, its better with me. But I am not sure if my mom running windows is able to protect her credit card info better than, say, amazon.
If she has a son or daughter who's a geek, her computer should be well locked down.
However the real trouble is that the cloud-based services offer large attractive targets for hackers or government, where if they succeed they won't just get one person's credit card or supposedly private info, but that of thousands. It's just a matter of time before they suffer a WikiLeaks-scale exposure. And events like that don't just hurt individuals, but dent confidence in the online world as whole.
Yes, security on local computers can be improved, but at least you have some control over it. With the cloud you are delegating that control to persons unknown. Do you know the number and identity of the employees at your favourite cloud provider who can access your data? Would you let every one of them into your home?
What about 'Chinese manufacturers have installed control chips to all thier hardware'.
I don't agree.
While I understand the whole "the user is the first security problem", I think that Stallman is right. Pushing incompetent or lazy people to store their data out of their computers makes for a perfectly wrong world, where we own nothing. Think Apple, only bigger. The phone (you can insert "computer" here) that I have paid for requires a subscription to be useful, and then I can only install the apps that Apple (you can insert "Google" here) wants me to install. I have to pay, if required to do so. I cannot install any free alternative app. I have to accept that Google (or you can insert "Apple" here) has access to all of my data, can disable or enable apps at their like (even easier when the apps are not actually loaded on my computer). I have basically no enforceable rights on anything. Anything I have bought, installed, or written by myself. All of the apps and data "are belong to Google" (if you pardon my nerdy reference here).
Stallman is absolutely right. While "commodity computing" is a great thing in terms of usability, it surely is not in terms of privacy and civil rights.
Or possible, idiot. I suppose they're not mutually exclusive.
OT: What happened to the icon one could click to see the parent post? Quoting doesn't really make any sense anymore.
not a question of 'protection'
it's not a question of protection. sure, amazon or google probably have better data security policies than your average computer user, so the data is less likely to be lost. the problem is that once you put your data onto amazon or google's servers, it is to all intents and purposes not your data any more. It's amazon or google's data, and they're just letting you use it. They now have effective control of it, meaning they can access it directly if they care about it, or (more likely) use it for purposes of statistical profiling for selling to advertisers and so forth. the erosion of common privacy is as important as the erosion of personal privacy. and, of course, there's the more humdrum problems: what happens if they go titsup, or just decide to charge more/some money? you'd hope they'd have a sensible policy in place to give you a transition period, but most cloud services don't *commit* to it, and there's no legal requirement that they do. essentially by sending your data to a cloud provider you're saying 'here, have this, do whatever you like with it, and I hope you don't lose it, but if you do, hey, I'm screwed'. is that really what you want?
maybe with a decent regulatory framework and several decades of experience we'll get this right, but I'm really not getting good vibrations about being in for the pain at the start. anyone reading el reg really ought to be capable of achieving all the benefits of 'cloud computing' without having to use anyone else's servers (see http://www.happyassassin.net/2010/11/10/web-0-1-or-how-to-stop-worrying-and-keep-all-your-data/ for my particular setup), or in a position to hire someone who can do it for you. Sure, that doesn't apply to every sucker on the street, but then, why would you care about them?
You say data, I say data
'Data' can also be the feminine singular in Latin, and that would be in accord with the normal usage of the word in English, as a singular collective rather than a plural - so it's more natural to say 'my private data IS my private data'.
And you let your mum drive your car without driving lessons?
Just because any idiot can get on a PC and loose there personal information and you think that's progress doesn't make it so.
Stallman might be a miserable 'luddite' but in ten years time you'll be wishing you'd listened more closely to what he says - if your allowed to wish that is.
"(*) "data" is plural of "datum". Can any grammar pedant correct this foreigner if he's wrong? :-)"
theoretically, you're right. in practice, virtually everyone treats 'data' as if it were a singular noun, and since English is a language defined mostly by general usage (there's no official arbiter of what's Correct English and what isn't, unlike, say, French), it's probably best just to go with the flow. There's kind of a tipping point, with English 'errors', where they become so common they're just correct, and anyone trying to use the 'real correct' form just looks like an irritating pedant. I'd say 'data' is on the other side of that tipping point, by now. =)
Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?
That's a very NuLab civil liberties idea.
We already did that one.....
It was sarcasm.
However today's news about OpenBSD has made reading some of these responses quite amusing.
If you use Google Docs to do your wordprocessing your are probably not going to have much joy if you insist that they show you the source code.
Call me paranoid
Fabulous, stick all you data in "the cloud", I'm sure you can trust the likes of Amazon and Google, that's not sarcasm, I am genuinely serious.
What about all the backups and secondary storage devices these companies use? What happens when the hardware hits end-of-life and the one disk that's supposed to end up at the crushers doesn't make it and ends up on eBay by mistake? What then? You and dozens of other people all over the world in different jurisdictions will have to fight tooth'n'nail to get this one device recovered and destroyed, if that is even possible.
I have 14 busted harddisks in my spare room, buried under a pile of other crap. They range from a piddly little 2GB thing to a couple of 400GB drives. I have drilled holes in them in six places but I refuse to take then down the local dump for crushing as I don't have an exact listing of what personal info is on them. The one thing I do know for sure, they are safe, they are my property as is info on them. I know exactly where they are!
"maybe with a decent regulatory framework and several decades of experience we'll get this right, "
I think that's the bit that is missing.
Getting that framework built (and enforced) will not be easy.
Expect saturation levels of whining from Google/Amazon/Facebook/MySpace (let's not forget that last one is now part of Rupert Newscorp-does-whatever-the-Chinese-govt-tells-them-to Murdoch's media empire. Expect plenty of verbiage which basically translates to "We can't make any money if people want to keep their stuff secret"
(Note that use of "secret" implying you have something to hide.rather than "private" as in MYOFB)
Expect lots of drama.
If you're just looking at noun endings, sure, you could look at 'data' and think, 'hmm, that might be a feminine singular noun'. But, er, we know what words exist in Latin and what words don't. There's no feminine singular noun 'data' (okay, okay, maybe there's some really obscure one or something, I don't have a freaking degree, but it sure doesn't mean what 'datum' means). There's a neuter singular noun 'datum', of which the plural nominative form is 'data'. You can't really use that argument, I'm afraid. =)
Is this why it's called OPENBSD?
Paris because......oh, never mind!
Well Mauled, Richard
This is a necessary first step to turn computers into appliances.
The 'fridge does not shut down when you leave for work in the morning and cool off again before you get home ... or does it ? ... have you noticed any excessive spoilage lately ? Would you ? Salmonella is just a natural part of life, right ?
If you pervert technology to make a buck, are you anti-science ? Yes, I think so.
Engineering is not science.
Wouldn't that be "anti-engineering?"
Henry Petroski: "Take this year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. No one, to the best of my knowledge, blamed it on science. Poor engineering decisions allowed gas to escape from a well in deep water, which in turn caused a fatal explosion. Subsequently, the engineered blowout preventer failed, and for months oil escaped into the environment. Poor engineering got us into the mess; surely only good engineering could get us out of it. Yet repeatedly, government and other research scientists were allowed to veto the engineering tactics needed to staunch the flow. In the end, of course, it was engineering that finally capped the well."
how else could the united state of americaland efectively seize control of BP otherwise.
Solving it efficiently just wouldn't have allowed that, not at all, no sir.
Just waiting for Shell to have a mysterious catastrophe now and that'll polish off the Dutch contingent.
He's not wrong..
Cloud computing only works if you know exactly what you're getting into and have full SLAs against it. For example, Microsoft's Azure is subject to US laws, even if you are UK based, as there is no telling where your data will end up. Bob Muglia of MS recently confirmed that if US Homeland Security asked for data about a UK company that was held in their cloud infrastructure, they would have no choice but to move it from Dublin to the US, and hand it straight over.
re: of course he's wrong
You're disagreeing because you don't understand, not because he's wrong.
Muglia on Homeland Security
Care to enlighten us with a link to the source?
re: Muglia on Homeland Security
Jon Honeyball, this month's PC Pro. He's been trying to get an answer for about 2 years.
Stallman and Tovalds
Stallman managed to write a lot of the software you are using. Tovalds created the Linux kernel, but what good is one without the other? Your comparison is a poorly thought out one; and, when you think about it Tovalds did not create the Linux kernel on his own. He got as far as he could with it then released it to fellow hackers to modify and improve. At one time Stallman was writing software against people who were writing software that wouldn't be free and would not give you any freedom. Richard Stallman deserves a lot of respect, because I doubt you could have done what he did do. Why don't you think about that?
Takes paranoia to a new level.
Unfortunately,he may be correct about many aspects of his whinge. Seems to me,it doesn't make any difference if it's on the "cloud"or not. If someone wants the data they'll get it one way or another. Just ask Google or the 33 other companies about it, and how much of that was "cloud" based.
Careless computing doesn't start at the "cloud". and maybe, just maybe, the FSF can confirm that.
Please read carefully what RMS said.
If data is stored on your personal hard-disk inside your home, authorities can not just come in and have it without breaking some basic laws protecting your private property. Now if your data is stored you don't know where, your provider has no obligation to protect your private property.
Google are loath to ever delete anything and probably couldn't even if they wanted to. Even if they had an explicit Delete that actually removed a row of data from a database, there is invariable going to be a backup of your data somewhere which won't be affected. And it's not like online services even offer a delete function - more often it just hides the data but its still there on a server somewhere.
For most people this probably doesn't matter. But I imagine there are times when someone actually does want to erase data or withold for reasons which are not necessarily illegal. For example, I expect it will become common for Google to be served during divorce proceedings, and of course if everyone is online using the same service it becomes trivial for Google to cooperate with law enforcement, profiling people, snooping their email and so forth.
Of course someone could go overboard and be overly paranoid, but the bottom line is you are relinquishing control of your own data to an unaccountable corporation. You should exercise some healthy paranoia about the possible consequences.
A title is required
Corome shocked--rms says something that's actually reasonable.
Most days, I wouldn't trust him to tell me the sky is blue; I'd go outside and check. But in this, he's absolutely right. Data stored in "the cloud" might not be yours at all. It's vulnerable, not just to seizure by law enforcement but also to hackers and corrupt, careless, or unethical employees of whatever service you're subscribing to.
Now, many folks probably don't have any data that's actually worth anything, so whatever. But folks who do might be well advised to consider what he says.
Has a point, no doubt.
Some of my mail I _do_ send on postcards.
Stallman has a very valid point, but the risks are avoidable for the foreseeable future.
One could run Chrome OS on a device that has a decent amount of local storage. Encrypt the disk with TrueCrypt, configured with an outer data volume and a hidden OS volume. Use Chrome OS for general browsing, and the inner OS for everything else. It might even help with plausible deniability; forced to hand over the password to the outer decoy volume, you might have a decent shot at claiming that the only purpose of the drive was for just such offline file storage.
Why go through all that rigmarol just to get a secure, private O/S/ The joy of FLOSS is that there is plenty of choice, GNU/Linux/ the BSDs and so on. Just because it comes from Google diesn't make it a mandatory install. Just say NO!
Plenty of what now?
Choice? A choice between scores of half-baked variants of a 1960s OS (Unix) is not a choice in any real terms. If anyone had come up to me back in 1985 or so while I was slaving over a hot VT-100 and told me that come 2010 Unix, or derivatives thereof, would still be around and be so widespread I'd have laughed (or more likely cried).
But here we are in the future and all we have to choose from are Windows in all its loathsome bodged-together glory, OS X (BSD in a fright wig and a red nose) and the wonderful world of Linux. Also, no flying cars :(
One Step Closer...
...to the hive-mind.
Why fight it?
Err, Because I don't want to live in a homogenized society where Google can second guess my every move and intention based on demographics and my deviation from Statistical Norms. At 47 I guess I will be receiving a subscription for SAGA magazine some time soon. Oh well. Grump
Your data is valuable to us.
It is not about privacy or freedom, it is about 'free'. By using Chrome OS you are giving your data away for free. Chrome OS is not designed for local file storage and I would not be surprised if the production Chrome appliance came with a read only file system.
Google are not benignly offering free online storage, Google has an insatiable appetite for all data.
The contents of your hard drive, your data, your pictures emails and documents may have no value to me, or to Joe hacker, but what if you had access to every hard drive on the planet?
What if that (suitably anonymized ) data could be analyzed and correlated statistically?
Would that data set have value to you?
Think about it.
Just look at what happens when you use gmail...
... Google's T&C's allow them to examine the content, publish and sell to anybody else they want (including Goverments) - you retain the copyright of the content (except for the mail that people send to you, which presumably is also up for sale) - but you give Google a license to play around with it and pass it around to whoever they choose forever,
Cloud Computing - allowing other people to access your data from anywhere in the world at anytime.
Google TV - the TV that watches *you* (only 26 years late).
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