[Fsfe-ie] Re: ethical interpretations of FS

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Tue Jan 27 12:26:02 CET 2004

Fergal Daly wrote:
> On Monday 26 January 2004 14:34, Ian Clarke wrote:
> I'm not sure about it personally but it most certainly _is_ the philosophy of 
> the FSF.
> http://www.fsf.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#UnreleasedMods

I stand corrected, in which case I disagree with whoever wrote that FAQ 

There are many things which might benefit the public interest were they 
not secret.  For example, if my e-gold password was not secret then my 
money could be distributed to the masses, which would probably benefit 
the public interest.  Does this mean that the FSF should advocate the 
disclosure of my e-gold password?  Should the FSF refuse to use the 
software of anyone who doesn't disclose their e-gold password?

The thing that makes source code different to my e-gold password is that 
source code controls what my computer does.  I have a  right to know 
what software is doing to my computer, just as I have a right to know 
what a plumber is doing to the pipes in my apartment.  But I have no 
more right to know what a plumber is doing to my friend's pipes than I 
do to know his bank PIN.  This is true even if I occasionally visit my 
friend's apartment.

The argument that I should know what someone else's software is doing 
with my hardware is strong and defensible, but the argument that I have 
a moral right to know what someone else's software is is doing with 
someone else's hardware (and they have a moral obligation to disclose 
it) is isomorphic to arguing that nobody should have any secrets about 
anything - which is silly.


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