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Call to shun cellphones, FB & proprietary software [Thiruvananthapuram] [Times of India]
[January 17, 2014]

Call to shun cellphones, FB & proprietary software [Thiruvananthapuram] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Software freedom activist Richard M Stallman on Thursday exhorted people not to use mobile phones, Facebook and proprietary software that could be used for surveillance by companies and states.

"Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that companies and states do surveillance. The state, however, punishes whistleblowers. It amasses dossiers against whistleblowers from the systems we use," he said. "I never have a mobile phone. Don't post my pictures on Facebook and let companies do surveillance on me. Don't do that to your friends too." Founder of GNU projects, Stallman termed surveillance as one of the major threats to freedom. He was speaking on 'A Free Digital Society', jointly organised by the Society for Promotion of Alternate Computing and Employment (Space) and Kerala Union of Working Journalists as part of the 10th anniversary of the former.

He said the state should respect privacy of people. "Democracy cannot sustain when the government knows everything about everyone," he said, exhorting people to resist surveillance collectively.

Stallman termed censorship as another threat to freedom. "Censorship is bad for democracy. Censorship is more disgusting that the views we disagree with." He asked people not to use software that are not under the control of users. It was the responsibility of government and educational institutions to use free software. "Instead of spreading dependency by using proprietary software, educational institutions must use free software that gives freedom for students to learn the source code. It will give the student freedom to rewrite a badly-written code. Only free software gives the freedom to read and write programmes," he said.

Stallman said sharing of information should be legalised. "People should be free to share a published work." Criticising Facebook, he said one could be called Facebook user as it is Facebook that use them.

He also met chief minister Oommen Chandy on the day to talk about the free software initiatives in the state.

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