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3 points by i4cu 188 days ago | link | parent

> The term can also be used by people who consider it unethical to even give programmers the possibility to hide nefarious code from users, regardless whether they actually do or not.

But that's not what's happening here. They are categorically demonizing innocent people.

3 points by hjek 188 days ago | link

> They are categorically demonizing innocent people.

I'm sorry; that was not my intention.

Perhaps I can make a comparison to clarify? As an example, some people think that guns are unethical because they may be seen as an unjust instrument of violence. Even if a particular gun hasn't killed anyone (yet), or even if most guns happened not to be used to kill, then surely it can still be legitimate for people to object to the passive presence of guns, because it gives gun owners the power to kill, and that power may be considered unjust by principle.

Similarly, some people think that non-free software is unethical because it gives programmers the power to do bad stuff, regardless of whether some particular non-free program is actually malware (yet).

(Sorry in advance if I've derailed this discussion into a more controversial subject.)


3 points by shader 188 days ago | link

(continuing the discussion for clarity... no emotional connotation is intended)

I realize this is a comparison for clarification, but isn't it still just 'categorically demonizing innocent people'?

You picked a more controversial topic where more people are likely to agree with the demonization I suppose, but your assertion that the power to kill "may be considered unjust by principle" is not well supported by vague assertions that "some think" guns "may be seen as" unjust instruments of violence. I fully support everyone's right to object to something they see as dangerous; opinion does not constitute principle, however.

To me, something is just or unjust based on whether or not it aligns with or infringes anyone's rights. So, I suppose I might actually agree that a power could be "unjust in principle" if it could be shown that the power could not be used justly - that is, without infringing on anyone else's rights. For some powers, mostly political ones, this is the case. In this case I think guns may be a poor comparison, because they actually can be used in ways which are just (defense, etc.), even if you believe that those cases are unlikely and so desire strict gun control, etc.

In contrast, it may be that producing nonfree software is always 'wrong' (in that it infringes on the supposed rights of the users to understand and modify the program they are running) and therefore having or providing the power to do so would be 'unjust in principle'. If the concern is merely that some may produce malware, and there are actually legitimate reasons for producing nonfree software, then it is not unjust in principle to do so, or to provide someone with said power.

I hope I've understood all that correctly, and restated it well. I'm not sure that I agree with the idea that nonfree software is always bad, but I am open to it. Perhaps what I'm missing is a clear understanding of the specific rights that nonfree software violates.


3 points by i4cu 188 days ago | link

No worries, I know you (as well as the authors) are simply trying to apply implicit safety measures to counter bad actors. And I'm certainly not offended by you adopting the program. It's my feeling, however, that their approach is horribly wrong and bordering on corruption. I simply don't believe they will have any success when trampling over the good actors in their process of trying to better the world. IMO; If they really wanted to make a dent, they should push for a regulation requiring that browsers provide functionality that enforces a free-software configuration OPTION. Then allow society to decide for themselves (this is a free world after all). I'd even be ok if the default setting was on. But as it sits right now they will get nowhere really fast.

edit: oh and as for the gun analogy... I'm from Canada and fully support gun control (we have it), but I'm not going around and implying that every gun owner is unethical in the process of asking for gun control. That would be shooting myself in the foot!


2 points by hjek 186 days ago | link

> IMO; If they really wanted to make a dent, they should push for a regulation requiring that browsers provide functionality that enforces a free-software configuration OPTION.

Sounds interesting. Apart from the regulation part, it sounds a bit like LibreJS[0].



2 points by i4cu 185 days ago | link

Actually, I got the notion from Stallman's original post 'The Javascript Trap' [1].

"Finally, we need to change free browsers to detect and block nontrivial nonfree JavaScript in web pages. The program LibreJS detects nonfree, nontrivial JavaScript in pages you visit, and blocks it. LibreJS is included in IceCat, and available as an add-on for Firefox."

However I am opposed to that call for action given it's an all-or-none implementation. I feel it's the role of each country to regulate, which is why I expressly suggested it as a configuration option (ideally it could be enforced at the browser level country by country and if not then user by user).



1 point by krapp 185 days ago | link

It seems like the thesis here is that whether or not "non-trivial" Javascript (which is just about all Javascript in the wild) should be trusted depends on the presence of an explicit GPL license. If so, that doesn't seem like a reliable heuristic for a script blocker to me.


2 points by i4cu 185 days ago | link

I'm pretty sure it would be similar to ad-blockers. The initial implementations are trivial and easily circumvented, but as they evolve they become more useful overall.

Plus note that I was just suggesting that it would be more effective than a social movement with 'ethical repositories'. Just imagine if the ad-blocker devs tried the same strategy...