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Carsten Agger agger at
Thu Jan 18 18:27:19 UTC 2018

On 01/18/2018 06:32 PM, Paul Hänsch wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 04:34:50PM +0100, marc wrote:
>>> The client-side Javascript to me is not a relevant issue anymore since JS is an open standard and browsers are sandboxed these days.
>> I'd like to disagree with this statement.
> I fully agree with Marc here.
> I would also like to add a more technical note.
> That is that no amount of sandboxing exempts a program from havig to follow
> the Free Software Definition in order to be considered Free Software.
> Other than HTML documents and their stylesheets, JavaScript elements are by
> themselfes programs. Although in a different context the issue of
> Tivoization[1] has shown a decade ago that compliance to a license does not
> guarantee compliance to this set of statements which constitute a spirit
> rather than a law.
> [1]
> Coercing a user into running specific code in order to view information from
> your website, leaves this user powerless in regard to this code. The mere
> permission to serve a modified copy on my own site, and force it over other
> people in turn, does not change my standing toward the original source, as it
> would do with desktop software.
Technically, with browser plugins, if the JavaScript is available in a 
non-minimized form, it /is/ possible to modify it as it runs in your 
browser. If you interact with a number of specific sites, you could even 
program these modifications in your own plugins.

So in that way I don't see how JavaScript collides with the Free 
Software Definition if it's under a free license. Of course, it should 
be that - releasing software under a non-free license is never morally 

And note, with this I'm only defending JavaScript for building user 
interfaces, which I think is far too powerful a tool to be discarded; 
generally, the Web is far too powerful a technology to be discarded.

With this, however, I'm not defending tracking & advertising JavaScript 
- my personal hope is that Internet advertising dies, and I don't care 
at all if it takes Google etc down with it.

> Furthermore, strong separation of the browser from the rest of the system,
> even if it were possible, hardly leads to a gain where this browser and the
> websites I visit are the focus of my work.
Aren't we all in some way depending on the Web for our work these days? 
I mean, those of us who work in software. The separation is a good idea 
because we hope the sandboxing can protect us from the potentially 
malign effects of software originating from other people's computers. 
The alternative would be to only visit sites we have reason to trust or 
only have passive HTML pages.

The first of these alternatives is kind of infeasible (because why 
*would* you trust your bank, airlines, travel agencies, grocers etc., 
indiscriminately, together with all of their employees),  and the second 
doesn't appear to be necessary - and as I said, I see many advantages in 
being able to construct software with JavaScript.


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