Is it acceptable to use proprietary software (platforms) to promote software freedom?

Fabian Keil fk at
Wed Jun 21 11:03:08 UTC 2017

Erik Albers <eal at> wrote:

> Maybe you noted in the Newsletter May [1] a pro and contra between our
> Executive Director and our Fellowship representative:
> 	On the FSFE's Planet, we had an interesting dialogue popping up
> 	between our executive director Jonas Öberg who argues that sometimes
> 	you can use proprietary software to further free and open source
> 	software [2] although you should be aware about the risk of
> 	backfiring. And Daniel Pocock, our new Fellowship representative,
> 	answered with "the risk of proprietary software" [3] and that "no deal
> 	might be better than a bad deal", meaning that if you cannot achieve
> 	something with Free Software you should consider just doing without
> 	it.

In related news:

| From: Fabian Keil <fk at>
| To: Jonas Oberg <jonas at>
| Subject: Proprietary software required to access your website
| Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:59:00 +0100
| Hi Jonas,
| when I try to visit:
| I get a CloudFlare error message which I can't pass unless I unblock
| Google and load and execute proprietary Software from both Google
| and CloudFlare.
| Given your role in the FSFE I assume this is not intentional
| and hope you can fix it.
| While I consider the use of CloudFlare a bad choice from a security
| point of view as well, this concern is unrelated to software freedom.
| Regards,
| Fabian

Three months later nothing has changed ...

This also affects the FSFE planet RSS feed. While the text from the
"Bits of freedom" articles is embedded and thus readable with free software,
the "Bits of freedom" images are still requested through CloudFlare's
MITM-as-a-service infrastructure.

> You may have noticed that the FSFE for example runs a Twitter-account. We do
> this under some rules but in particular under the rule that these "services
> are an addition to the FSFE's communication channels and not a replacement.
> The teams have to make sure to always provide the information accessible by
> using Free Software without pushing people to create accounts on proprietary
> platform."

That seems reasonable to me although it's probably hard to enforce.

> Now I would be interested what you think? Do you think that - although the use
> of proprietary platforms is ethically not supportable - the chances of
> convincing new people to use and further Free Software are worth the punishment?

As long as nobody is forced or encouraged to run proprietary software to get
to the content the use of proprietary platforms to spread FSFE content seems
ethically supportable to me.

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