Famous computer programmer and President of Free Software Foundation Richard Stallman says it’s so many years now that Microsoft and Facebook have been gathering the personal information of users in violation of the US constitution.
Stallman said that the measures of these two companies are the obvious example of injustice and oppression and contradicts the US constitution.
What follows is the text of his interview with FNA:
Q: Mr. Snowden claims that NSA controls traffic of date and connections among millions of people, are these claims practical in technical terms? How much of the taxpayers money do you think the US government has spent to make this idea practical?
A: I am sure it is practical. In fact, Snowden's disclosures show, broadly, how the US is doing this. I don't know what it costs, but that is a side issue. This is not a problem of wasting money, this is an injustice. Surveilling everyone's Internet usage is oppression.
It also violates the US Constitution, but the Bush/Obama regime is accustomed to doing that.
Q: While Microsoft says "your privacy is our priority", and all other companies talk much about privacy, the documents that Mr. Snowden has disclosed show that Silicon Valley has close relations with spying agencies. Who is right, Snowden or Microsoft?
A: I trust Snowden because he shows us documents that he brought to us at great risk and personal cost. Microsoft merely says we should trust Microsoft, which is no reason to trust Microsoft.
The fact is, we have known for years that Microsoft was putting malicious functionalities in its software. It has demonstrated spyware, digital shackles (DRM), and a universal back door (see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/proprietary.html for references).
What's news is that Microsoft does this for the US government as well as for Microsoft.
Any proprietary program gives its owner unjust power over the program's users. Abuses of this power are only natural.
(See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html for why we must insist on using only free software.)
Q: What is the role of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype in data collection process for NSA and other intelligence agencies? What is the real goal of intelligence agencies from gathering such information?
A: Skype is more like a phone call than like Facebook or Twitter. To avoid a misleading generalization, let's not describe Skype as "social media". The unjust things about Skype are (1) it requires users to run a nonfree program and (2) it is designed to snoop on users.
Q: Facebook and other social networks have many advantages such as making social communities and making access easier, why do you criticize them?
A: Facebook requires its useds to identify themselves. (I call them "useds" rather than "users" because Facebook is using them.) Facebook is designed to lure its useds into giving lots of data about themselves, and it collects a lot more data about them surreptitiously. It requires running non-free software (i.e., the users do not control it). It uses its useds' names, photos and postings in advertisements for companies. It is designed to be addictive.
For these reasons, I won't use Facebook, and I have never used Facebook. Thus, I can't tell you whether it is convenient.
I don't care whether it is convenient. I won't pay with my freedom for mere convenience.
Twitter is a lot better than Facebook. It doesn't do most of those bad things. Thus, let's not group all "social networking" systems together as one issue. Each system is a different issue.
Q: Many people know or at least speculate that these programs may violate their freedom, but they continue to use these technologies, why? Which consequences may be waiting for those people who choose to use these programs?
A: Companies will manipulate them and governments will repress them.
Massive surveillance and democracy do not mix .(see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/surveillance-vs-democracy.html.)
Q: Do you yourself use cellphones and Facebook? If not, why?
I do not have a cell phone, and I will never have one, because carrying a cell phone means that the phone company (and the state) knows where you are all the time. There are some things that we must not accept.
I do use cellphones -- other people's cell phones. As I write this, I'm in an airport between flights. My first flight arrived late and I missed the second flight, so I asked someone to lend me a cell phone so I could call and inform people I will be late.
Q: Many people have been shocked by the recent revelations; should they think that freedom and anonymity in the internet and digital world have died?
The foolish way most people use the Internet, freedom and anonymity are dead. To recover them, we must launch a struggle against surveillance and censorship.