Richard Stallman on ISP filtering and censorship

[ Monday, 16 February 2009, tarabaz ]

Richard Stallman – author of GNU, person without who we wouldn’t have GNU/Linux operating systems, GPL (General Public License), one of most active fighters for freedom in the world, living legend, genius, hacker.

There are many words used to describe this great person, but none of these words can fully describe him.

I think, that there is no such word, but thinking about Richard Stallman as a “real FREE man” is a good start.

author: Thomas “Tarabaz” Nowak
date: 15.02.2009
contact: tarabaz (at)

We can find injustice all over the world, places where idea of freedom is killed.

Not only idea of Free Software, but freedom itself.

Tibet, China, Finland, Russia – I can tell about it few hours. But there is some new kind of injustice, new kind of fright for democratic countries. This is one of most terrible dreams of Philip K Dick – author of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”.

Terror from sci-fi books and films is starting on our own eyes – it’s name is corporatocracy. We can find it even in Poland.

Our work, our lives, our “to be” in these days is Internet – freedom to share knowledge, information in the global scale.

If someone just like ISP companies in Poland and Australia tries to interfere sharing by blocking network ports, censor Internet websites – it is real bad news for democracy, red light for our freedom, signal that companies have power to decide, what is good and what is bad.

This injustice is so serious, that I asked Richard Stallman about his point of view on this situation. I think there is no other person in the world, who is so experienced in fighting for freedom in technical world…

Tarabaz: Hello Richard. What do you personally think about idea of censoring internet?

RMS: I am against all censorship, because censorship is the tool of
tyrants. However, blocking certain network protocols is not exactly
censorship — it is a different kind of injustice.
Whereas censorship attacks the freedom of expression, the blocking of
these protocols attacks the freedom to share and the freedom to

Tarabaz: You know – many years ago in my country there was bunch of
really powerful persons on high seats in government, who wish to
control what could be done, and what can everyone think. Do you
think, that steps performed by our ISP companies is something in
sort of? Control on citizens by corporations – not by political

RMS: The tendency these days is for governments to bow down to the
megacorporations, and let the dictate the laws. People often take for
granted that business has more political power than citizens — but if
that is true, what does it mean? It means we have corporatocracy
instead of democracy. A flagrant example of corporatocracy is
happening right now in Finland — for details, see

Thus, the most important political imperative in the nominally
democratic countries today is to take away the political power of
business. We must change laws, treaties, and constitutions so that
the corporations cannot rule us.

Tarabaz: Do you think, that this steps are harmful for human rights?

RMS: The freedom to share, and the freedom to communicate, are human rights
that everyone deserves. Businesses must not be allowed to take them
away from people.

Tarabaz: What in the future it can mean for free software, and knowledge exchange?

RMS: The publishers of certain works want to stop people from sharing them.
The publishers of other works, including free (wolny) software such as
the GNU/Linux operating system, want to encourage people to share
If I understand you correctly, these ISPs have decided to obey the
copyright holders that want to prevent sharing, while thwarting the
wishes of copyright holders that want to encourage sharing.

Tarabaz: Is there any advices for customers of those dangerous companies, that
you want to share with readers of

RMS: What I suggest for the customers of these companies is to stop doing
business with them. Choose an ISP that respects network neutrality
and does not try to control what protocols its customers use.

Tarabaz: How can we stop censoring the internet, and help personally in this fight?

RMS: I have four suggestions:

Keep your wireless networks open, so that you will not become an
enforcer for an unjust Internet regime.

* Tell politicians you demand they legalize sharing of all published works,
and that you will accept no excuse for failing to do this.

* Reject all products with Digital Restrictions Management that you
don’t have the means to crack, and never make an exception.

* Join the campaign.

Tarabaz: How can we show politics, that this kind of censoring is something really bad and in long term can lead us for corporatocracy?

RMS: I don’t live in Poland, so I don’t know what works there.
One way or another, you need to tell the public and the politicians
that sharing is good, and it is wrong to stop people from sharing.
Don’t just criticize the side effects of these actions.
You must say that their goal is unjust.

Tarabaz: Is there something you want to share with polish GNU/Linux users, and those, who don’t discovered yet the benefits of freedom?

RMS: Millions of people use the GNU/Linux system thinking that all of it is
Linux.  They may not know it is free software if they have only heard
it described as open source (a completely different idea, concerned
with software development methods rather than users’ freedom).  These
people more or less enjoy the benefits of the freedom that we have
worked hard to give them, but they don’t know about the issue, and that makes
their freedom vulnerable. If we want to make freedom secure, we need to
teach other people to appreciate it and to defend it with us.

See and for
more explanation about these points.

License information:

This article is licensed on Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0

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fold this thread pete  Wednesday, 18 February 2009 o godz. 5:19 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

well.. im not sure i understand the issue with nokia.. (the link provided above)…. if they want to monitor their employee’s email that is going thru their servers (meaning company email).. then i don’t see an issue…. NOW.. if they are talking about monitor the employees “personal” email then i think that would be ridiculous..

the article does not really make that 100% clear…

overall.. i find i agree with everything RMS says….

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fold this thread noneia  Wednesday, 18 February 2009 o godz. 9:05 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I can make one thing clear. People should not send non-work related emails at work, or from any employer-owned device. If they do, there should be no expectation of privacy on their part. Would you store your private documents on your employers servers? Probably not. Most employers that I have worked for have strict policies that prohibit use of the employer’s computers (and other rescources ) for person (non-work related) uses. Even if you are on a break where you have clocked out, you should not use an employers computer for any non-work related activ\ties. Period.

If you do so, you should fully expect your employer to know ALL the details of such use.

fold this thread Drone  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 10:26 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

> if they want to monitor their employee’s email
> that is going thru their servers
Look, I can buy a kitchen knife. Then I surely can backstab someone with it and kill someone with it. This will be clearly illegal action and I have to be jailed, etc. But does this means that kitchen knives should be forbidden or restricted for sale (as most dangerous weapons and radioactive materials for example)? Surely not! So you can come on and buy kitchen knife. Even if you can use it to backstab someone later. Why should I abandon my privacy right? Even if I can (ab)use it to harm someone later? F%#ck these damn dual standards lobbied by nasty trouble-making corporations. Privacy should work EVERYWHERE and REGARDLESS OF (btw, why you’re thinking like a corporate slave, human?). Or if this will keep same course, tomorrow *you* will be turned onto corporate *slave* once you’ve signed contract. Just like sci-fi writers warned. You are already ignoring brute violation of your privacy by corporations and believe this is as it should be, by the way. Do you want to abandon all your other rights tomorrow just “because you can use your rights to cause troubles to corpirations”? As for me, such world is even worse than Stalin’s government. Stalin at least did not had electronic assistance to track each and every step of soviet humans. USA government and corporations do have it, unfortunately.

fold this thread bob inflorida  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 8:01 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

like this means squat if there is no renewable energy economy.

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fold this thread igor  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 4:28 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

“Tibet, China, Finland, Russia” you are miss USA in this list. they really kill people and freedom.

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fold this thread Drone  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 9:00 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

As for me, all this corporate stuff is AWFUL.

You have a ton of rights granted by laws. Until you come into some corporation. Then you have to give up very basic rights and freedoms in many cases. Including privacy right, etc. That’s why I’m DISLIKE corporations. Worst nightmares of sci-fi writers are getting implemented in reality :( . So in fact we’re risking to become by slaves of mega-corporations, just as sci-fi writers warned us years ago.

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fold this thread Drone  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 9:18 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

> “Tibet, China, Finland, Russia” you are miss USA
+1 – it is USA and it’s politicians who has requested new draconian copyright laws in Russia, after all. Local government have to obey or have to suck without ability to join into WTO.

Major copyright and censorship tyrants are USA itself. It is they are who both killing freedoms of their citizens and forces/encourages others to do the same.

As for me, USA people today have their own major threats to their (and due to globalisation to our, too!) freedoms.

Corporations are a real freedom killers. Copyright fascists who value some crappy bytes over human life and other RIAA-like racketeers and bandits are all USA “inventions”. Neither Russia nor China never jailed people for piracy until USA not enforced them to do so. So don’t you think USA have to re-balance their own laws to achieve really EQUAL rights for anyone and stop corporations from taking away each and every freedoms?

And let’s say, Russia today is not restrictive in sense of Internet access (right now I did not detected any censorship). However, AOL, Inc – an USA company – did recently a cool genocide: they forbid to use alternate ICQ clients. And (what a genocide!) for Russian IPs only! So – yes, I can use Free Software like Pidgin or whatever from USA. Or from Netherlands (where I own VDS). But I can not use Pidgin or any other “unofficial” ICQ clients from Russia. And this harmed Russians worse than any government managed to achieve ever. ICQ’s own client is over-bloated adware. Everyone hates it. And AOL do not cares what will happen with users of Free Software (like Linux users).

So, I’m, Russian guy, personally award #1 freedom killer award to USA mega-corporation: AOL, Inc. Hey, AOL, thank you very much for attempts to ELIMINATE OUR FREEDOM OF CHOICE in software. And thank you for doing this in clearly genocidal manner. You have shown your ugly corporate face. We have leaned that you can’t trust to corporations, thanks. So, these days, Jabber getting so popular in Russia, wuahahaha. That’s what AOL really managed to achieve with their genocidal actions against Russians :D

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fold this thread fsi  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 9:53 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

By the way, there is a good american (!) film-satire about corporations that rule the world: “War, Inc.”

Though, its more about (less humane) methods of using power and starting wars with other countries to achieve their goals (to take control over the oil and other resourses) than of changing laws and enforcing censorship in the Internet for the sake of some publishers.

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fold this thread fsi  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 10:24 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Drone, I agree (especially with “new draconian copyright laws”).

But… Using ICQ was wrong from the very beginning — it is a proprietary protocol, all the servers belong to AOL, and, in addition, it has some “license” saying how one can use it and what (problems) one can get with it.

And, I think, more suitable for the “number 1 freedom killer” is somebody like… Microsoft? :)

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fold this thread Drone  Thursday, 19 February 2009 o godz. 10:35 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

> But… Using ICQ was wrong from the very beginning
> — it is a proprietary protocol,
But it ates 3 times less traffic than overbloated Jabber at least since it do not have to transfer bloated XML crap. And still extensible in unlimited way due to it’s TLV nature. And it’s filetransfers are working better than Jabber’s. So it technically superior to Jabber in many aspects.

> all the servers belong to AOL, and, in addition,
> it has some “license” saying how one can use it
Each server haves this license. Even jabber server haves it’s administrator and it is up to him if he is going to allow certain user on it or not, if he is going to allow certain server-to-server link or not. And there were already abuses of this fact by some administrators. Each and every user can not use it’s own server. Or to be exact, to be REALLY independent, it have to be P2P where you both client and server to yourself.

And well, let’s MS to be #1, but for Russians AOL surely #2 at least for commiting their genocide in such evil style.

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fold this thread I h8T censorship  Monday, 2 March 2009 o godz. 2:14 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Quote “RMS: I am against all censorship, because censorship is the tool of
tyrants. However, blocking certain network protocols is not exactly
censorship — it is a different kind of injustice.
Whereas censorship attacks the freedom of expression, the blocking of
these protocols attacks the freedom to share and the freedom to

He’s saying that a government blocking certain websites, and certain tubes of the internet at an ISP level controlling what citizens can and can’t see isn’t an attack on freedom of expression, but just prevent sharing and communication. I find that pretty confusing. If a government puts blanket ban on network protocols to stop people sharing and exchanging info that they don’t like, THIS IS CENSORSHIP AND AN ATTACK ON FREE EXPRESSION!

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fold this thread Magnesium Ascorbate :  Friday, 29 October 2010 o godz. 6:08 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

i find that ceramic kitchen knifes are the best because they are very sharp and easy to clean ”

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fold this thread Petrol Leaf Blower %0A  Tuesday, 16 November 2010 o godz. 6:06 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

for kitchen knife, i would always use ceramic kitchen knifes because they are sharper and tougher than steel knifes ‘”.

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Tomasz Nowak

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