26 April 2007

God Bless Spyware...

...or rather, god bless the Spyware Act currently being pondered in the US. Why, you may ask? How can something as laudable as anti-spyware legislation possibly be relevant to open source? Well, try this for size.

According to the proposals:

it's perfectly OK for basically any vendor you do business with, or maybe thinks you do business with them for that matter, to use any of the deceptive practices the bill prohibits to load spyware on your computer. The company doesn't have to give you notice and it can collect whatever information it thinks necessary to make sure there's no funny business going on. And by the way, another exception provision specifically protects computer manufacturers from any liability for spyware they load on your computer before they send it to you. Of course, the exception for software companies checking to make sure you're an authorized user is the strongest evidence of what this bill is all about. After all, in terms of function, there's not much difference between spyware and DRM.

Of course this stuff only really applies to closed source, because with open source you can (a) find the spyware, and (b) chop it out. Moreover, the concept of an "authorised user" has no meaning - we are all authorised, by definition. Now tell me again why you want to stick with proprietary code....

4 comments:

Gnuosphere said...

I want to stick with proprietary code because...um...well...

I don't know.

I have to agree with you.

glyn moody said...

It's surprising more people don't see this. Maybe they will as things get worse in The Other World....

Gnuosphere said...

The fact is, most people don't know the difference between source code and binary. To most people it is all just "software".

Once one understands what source code is (which doesn't mean being able to literally read and write it but simply its nature) then the light bulb can go on. It doesn't take more than a minute to find out the difference. But the fact that one must know the difference to understand what free software is all about means a small but significant barrier. Some education is required.

glyn moody said...

True. I suppose part of the problem is that computing studies tends to concentrate on using tools - which is fair enough - rather than understanding how they work.