Is lack of software freedom a valid reason for refusal?

Carsten Agger agger at
Thu Sep 28 15:45:03 UTC 2017

On 09/28/2017 05:05 PM, Paul Boddie wrote:
> On Friday 22. September 2017 15.57.26 Florian Snow wrote:
>> Carsten Agger <agger at> writes:
>>> * I want to park my car in the city, but it's only possible to pay by
>>> downloading one of two proprietary apps (real-world situation in
>>> Copenhagen) on my smartphone. Can I refuse to pay an eventual fine on
>>> the grounds that I couldn't pay?
>> No, you get a fine because you have the choice of parking elsewhere.
> If Copenhagen is like other cities, the opportunities for parking elsewhere 
> may be very limited. In Oslo, I either *don't* want to know or I would 
> *really* like to know (depending on how much I feel like looking closely at 
> some potentially corrupt dealings) how the parking situation got to be some 
> kind of cartel where supposedly "managed" parking is outrageously expensive 
> and where many people consequently have to play the automotive equivalent of 
> musical chairs to hunt down the limited number of available, free, on-street 
> spaces that are the only real long-term parking option for many people.
In Copenhagen, it used to be so that ouside of Jagtvej/Falkonér Allé,
parking was free.

It's now changed to payment-only nearly everywhere in the city proper.
This means that free parking is only available approaching the suburbs.

Now, I wouldn't have a big problem with that - if only they had a good
old-fashioned meter that will accept coins. Or even a credit card.

But no, you *must* download a proprietary app, different ones for
different parts of town, and I think there's two annoyances here:

* It's unacceptable that you're actually required to carry a smartphone
(Android or iOS only) to do something completely commonplace

* It's unaceptable that you're required to install and use non-free
software to do it..
> It is a question of accessibility in a broad sense. If people can interact 
> with the payment mechanisms using public infrastructure then there is no 
> problem. However, "apps" are the modern form of the kind of private networks 
> that various corporations wanted to cultivate before the general Internet 
> became popular. It would be like someone in the 1990s saying that you could 
> only park if you had either a Compuserve account or were an eager early 
> adopter of Apple's eWorld (or whatever it was called).

Exactly. And even though requiring a smartphone is not strictly a
software freedom issue (you might be able to use one with free software
only), I do think it's a question of how we want our cities to be in the
digital era. Do we want them to be system-friendly, requiring people to
cater for the whims of software developers, or people friendly? "People
friendly" would be to always allow common infrastructure to work without
people carrying specific electronic gadgets.

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