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Just how bad the spying is

SpyingWant to see just how bad the spying is on your computer and cell phone?

Here’s this blurb from evil Amazon about Amazon Sidewalk… “Amazon Sidewalk is a new long-term effort to greatly extend the working range of low-bandwidth, low-power, smart lights, sensors, and other low-cost devices customers install at the edge of their home network. Using the 900 MHz spectrum, we are developing a new protocol we project can increase the connection range of these devices by more than one half mile/one kilometer. With Amazon Sidewalk, customers will be able to place smart devices anywhere on their property and know they’ll work great, even in dead spots where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth don’t reach.

and from another site

Amazon Sidewalk will create entire smart neighborhoods.

So it’s moving the 5G forward to fry our body, access the microchips in your body if you took the DEATH JAB, and spy on us BIG TIME.

If you have Amazon Alexa or Echo, the last opportunity to opt out of the surveillance network, known as Amazon Sidewalk, is on June 8th.

The person I got this from wrote this and “recommends the tried and true method of smashing any Alexa or Echo devices you have with a hammer.” LOL

Now onto this student’s resolve to NOT use spy software to get his degree. I got the info from this Telegram channel and the owner is in charge of (or one of several in charge of) the Take Back Our Tech movement. His blog is here.

I just wish the Polish author didn’t believe the pandemic was REAL, but most geeks do.

I figured out last year that most geeks are braindead and worship the state. Plus, they believe in all of the fake science instead of TRUE science.

There are exceptions of course, but how many know and accept the truth compared to the ones who believe ALL of the lies?

So they know we are being spied on, but the crimes stop there?

To find out if my suspicions were correct, I went onto a social media platform and I asked if people had the same experience I had where geeks who they know believe that the pandemic is real and refuse to listen to them when they tell them the truth.

My website coder refuses to believe anything that I have to say on the matter, although he does listen to me, but it’s just because he’s being respectful.

He eventually started scoffing at me periodically, and other times he’ll just come up with the party line as to the reason why I’m wrong and he’s right. We’ve almost come to blows verbally at least three times since the war broke out and I’m sure it could have been more than that if he wasn’t such a nice calm person.

He also thinks that the customer should have no say in how software works because it’s the developer’s software and only THEY get to decide on how it’s used.

Sure, if the developer doesn’t give a shit if he/she makes money or that their customers are happy LOL

That explains why MOST geeks (not all of course) are terrible business people. They don’t care about their customers.

How many times has he stuck up for nazi YOUTUBE when I complain about them censoring and book burning. sigh

And then I had a conversation with someone who I didn’t know at all, but was talking to online. I made the comment that this was a scam, and he proceeded to tell me that he had a degree in biochemistry and he thinks he knows way more than I do about this. He wasn’t in science at all, he was actually in the IT industry.

So this got me wondering if most geeks worship science, and since most science is fake science because it’s run by the evils, then they get all of their information from the evils.

My website coder actually has done his own research, but he always gets the information from the evils. From all of the government websites and all of the other mainstream websites, but last year he did learn that this is not a so-called “dangerous” virus like the news is reporting it, so that was surprising.

But if I talk to him about Windows spying and the evils doing this on purpose, he just doesn’t buy it. What’s most frustrating, and I know that many of you have experienced this of course, is that they don’t even look at any of the links or even ask you for any of the links. And that is a complete breakdown of a person’s brain. If someone told me something that I didn’t agree with, I would at least have the curiosity about what they were talking about, especially if they were friends or family.

You know a person’s brain is shut down if they don’t even have curiosity. And I’m not talking about one specific topic, I can discuss many different topics and I usually don’t talk about something if I do not have links to back it up, so that’s pretty dangerous that these people don’t even ask why I even think that way.

Also, because the scamdemic has not affected him, although I think he’s getting less work, he just doesn’t care.

He lives in a rural area where there’s no masks, he barely goes anywhere anyway and when he does go to the stores, they are fully stocked.

Back to these social media posts that I wrote up last year…

I got a few responses and two in particular made me understand that the odd geek out there actually does know the truth.

One mother said that her son knew about the evils long before the war started. My guess is he woke up about 911. Now why he didn’t tell his mother? That’s another problem. I don’t know if she just wouldn’t have been receptive to hearing it back then and that’s why he didn’t tell her, or he just doesn’t communicate well. Unfortunately a lot of geeks find it very hard to communicate with other people.

And the one other comment that was disheartening and scary. It was from another mother who said that every time she would try to talk to her son about the truth, he would get very upset, and once it looked like he was almost ready to attack her. Wow

Now onto the article written by the Polish IT student.

How I Fought To Graduate Without Using Nonfree Software

— by Wojciech Kosior

As a university student, I have struggled during the pandemic like everyone else. Many have experienced deaths in their families, or have lost their jobs. While studying informatics at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, Poland, I have been fighting another, seemingly less important battle, but one I passionately feel is vital to our future freedoms. I describe my fight below, so as to encourage and inspire others.

Unethical platforms

Software freedom is a huge but hidden issue in our time. Digital communications technologies such as videoconferencing have taken center stage in our lives, and for many the use of these has been a savior. They do not notice the danger concealed in the way it works: whoever controls this technology controls our lives. Recently we have seen the power of Big Tech to subvert democracy, control speech, exclude groups, and invade our privacy.

Software freedom is a fight to return control to people. It is a fight against “nonfree” software, also called proprietary software, which imposes unjust and invasive harms on its users. In pursuit of our liberating mission, advocates of software freedom like myself insist on using libre software.

It is especially important to spread these ideals to new generations. Unfortunately, we often see the opposite trend. The default operating system found in most computer classrooms of my country is proprietary Microsoft Windows, with some universities even providing students licenses for it. At some point I came to realize this practice really only benefits the proprietary operating system vendor. Similarly terrifying is the level of dependence of course organization on nonfree Google Sheets and Google Forms.

During the pandemic we saw educational facilities hastily embrace proprietary tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WhatsApp, pressured by the network they generate. Schools and universities then tried to impose them on students, who subsequently suffered the loss of freedom from using programs that users don’t control, as well as bad security and violations of privacy.

Because I refuse to use unethical software, the complete reliance on proprietary platforms has created an ethical conflict. My aim has been to complete my university degree without surrendering to the imposed nonfree services, by convincing my professors[2] to allow me to use only free-software replacements to proprietary applications. I didn’t expect to win a fight against such power, but now, through polite but firm action, I think I may have prevailed. Hopefully this story will help you resist too.

Ethical studying

Over time I’ve become more and more determined to avoid nonfree software. Among other challenges, that meant getting a Libreboot’ed ThinkPad and switching to GNU/Linux distros that include only libre packages. One might ask:

What about studies? Weren’t you required to use Windows? Or MS Office? Or some other proprietary tools?

Actually, a majority of classroom assignments could be completed with free software. Today we have the luxury of excellent libre operating systems and libre tools for most tasks. Most popular programming languages have free software implementations. On those few occasions when some nonfree tool was strictly required, I was able either to convince the professor to let me make a substitution—for example, to complete the exercises with a PostgreSQL database instead of Oracle—or to do the assignment on a university computer in the lab. I admit, running nonfree software on a computer other than one’s own doesn’t fully solve the ethical problem. It just seemed fair, but it is not something I’m proud of.

I also take the issue of in-browser JavaScript (js) more seriously now. Web js runs in an isolated sandbox, which leads many to believe it’s acceptable, even though it’s nonfree. Sandboxing might indeed solve security issues, but the true problem with proprietary programs lies elsewhere, in its denial of letting users have control. Currently, maintaining one’s software freedom in the field of web browsing is not easy. Sites frequently malfunction when js is disabled. I have had to ask colleagues to help me enter study-related data into a Google Sheet because I couldn’t do that without js enabled. In addition, js code is used to implement browser fingerprinting which is used to track users.

Gentle persuasion

Without serious problems, I completed the fifth semester of my studies. At the beginning of the sixth semester, the pandemic began. Universities closed their physical facilities, so most students returned home and professors started organizing remote classes. Unsurprisingly, they all chose proprietary platforms. Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams, ClickMeeting, and Skype were popular choices. I could not find a free software client for any of those. Also, not realizing the problem of nonfree js, professors expected everyone to be able to easily join the video sessions using any web interface.

How did I handle these requirements? I would very politely email every single professor who announced something would be done using a problematic platform, explaining the lack of a suitable free software client. I often included a link to a popular online explanation of the issues of software freedom and universities, the “Costumed Heroes” video created by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), along with some other links to free videoconferencing programs like Jami and Jitsi Meet.

Although there are many documented surveillance and security issues on these centralized platforms, I explained that, for me, software freedom was the troubling factor. Replies urging me to “run the program in a virtual machine” or saying that I “don’t need the source code to use the service,” made it clear that some of my professors didn’t understand, or understood only part of the issues. Had I been studying anything other than informatics, I suspect the fraction of those who understood the problem would be far smaller.

Missing out

There were two distinct areas of concern. The first was with accessing and participating in the teaching materials; for example, in a Machine Learning class I found someone to forward on to me what the professor had said. The second was around registration and assessment. For some remote classes, presence was not checked. I skipped those. Uploading my homework to Moodle also didn’t pose any issues.

The first real problem arose with the Artificial Intelligence (AI) course. It was taught by rotation. The first professor gave homework requiring the proprietary Framsticks application, but allowed me to do a neural networks exercise instead. Another professor agreed I could use Webots instead of Choreographe for a simulation exercise. Yet another one asked us to complete an online NVIDIA course that required nonfree js. That professor did not respond to my email.

One Distributed Systems homework was supposed to be submitted via WebEx, but that professor agreed to let me use Jami instead.

Uncertainty and doubt

Another issue that arose was gnawing uncertainty in the absence of a clear policy. Not knowing whether the university would recognize my principles was a cause of ongoing stress. Despite my small early victory, other rotational courses meant that three more professors would each need to agree if I were to pass, so until June I could not be sure I would succeed. In March, System Programming classes started. The professor, who didn’t want to lose time connecting to a libre platform to rate my homework, gave me little hope, so again I was to live in uncertainty through the Easter and beyond.

I believe every class should at minimum be offered ways to interoperate with libre tools so that students can at least read class assignments on free platforms, and upload their answers from them. Unless universities offer interoperability, the reliance on proprietary software costs both students and professors time and headaches. At one point I emailed two professors about the use of nonfree platforms for lectures. One didn’t respond and the other replied rudely. They seemed not to understand, but I suspect they were avoiding any extra work. This had a corrosive impact on my engagement and I stopped caring about lectures. Avoiding a language-specific package manager that I felt put me at risk of security and freedom issues cost me considerable time and delayed my studies. Time is precious for us all.

Friction over freedom

Although stressful, thus far things had gone fairly smoothly. But after Easter, a Software Engineering course presented the first big problem. This professor first ignored my emails, but eventually wrote a long reply and threatened to fail me if I missed one more meeting. That email’s tone showed great annoyance, perhaps anger. It was suggested that I use a colleague’s help to participate in the meeting. Another classmate and I connected through Mumble, through which the professor was also intermediated—not perfect, but it worked!

The issues of software freedom, which are ethical, must be separated from other concerns to which open source supporters often give priority. For example, advocates of open source refrain from bringing those important freedom issues to the table and only say that software with source code publicly available is going to achieve higher quality with the help of the community. Meanwhile, our opponents claim proprietary software can bring higher revenue, allowing the hiring of more developers to work on improving it.

The Compilers course exam was to be conducted through Microsoft Teams. Again, sticking to my principles, I thought I would fail. Funnily enough, it was Teams that failed. It could not handle dozens of students connecting, so instead the exam was conducted via email. On the other hand, during contact with my thesis supervisor in July, Jami broke during the meeting. No software is perfect. But with libre software you at least get to keep both pieces when it breaks.

It is not necessarily the functional aspects of the software that creates friction around lack of software freedom. During the summer I had to do an internship. I backed out of a paid offer after learning that the employer would make my code nonfree. I eventually did another, unpaid internship.

So after all my struggles, I finally passed the summer semester and even had decent grades. What at some point seemed almost impossible, was now a reality.

Proprietary imposed at all levels

Before the winter semester, a list of allowed videoconferencing platforms that comply with the data protection law was given to professors. It contained Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, ClickMeeting, and Google Meet. You will surely see the irony here!

One professor agreed to use Jitsi Meet for all his classes and suggested that I ask the student council to recommend it to the Dean, but the council never responded to my emails. High quality software offering better data protection capabilities was deliberately sidelined in favor of commercial nonfree solutions in what seems like a case of corrupt corporate capture of an educational institution. The libre software didn’t get approved and the professor kept communicating with other students via WebEx.

Misconceptions

As I mentioned earlier, despite being highly knowledgeable computer scientists and experienced in informatics, many academics demonstrated a generally poor understanding of the politics and ethics around software.

The professor giving the seminar claimed that because a libre platform also runs on someone else’s server, “it cannot be safer.” I responded that Jitsi Meet allows for independent instances to be created, which eliminates the need to rely on a single company. I also noted that the lack of libre clients is the main problem with other services. It is a shame that professors at this level, who fully grasp the difference between intermediated encryption and end-to-end encryption, will teach it in their classes but not practice it in their daily profession.

On another occasion, I objected to using a Windows VM for a penetration testing exercise. The professor remarked that one would not be a good penetration tester if restricted to testing only libre servers. I gave up on responding to him, but I think proprietary platforms should be considered insecure by default due to, for instance, possible backdoors they may have.

Having resolve

At some point I had an argument with my supervisor, who gave me an ultimatum that I must use Microsoft Teams. I didn’t agree and he was supposed to inform the Dean about withdrawing from supervising me. Perhaps the Dean didn’t read that email? I’m just guessing. Anyway, a few weeks later I even borrowed some electronics from my supervisor—almost as if the argument had never happened.

Later, one professor who didn’t agree to let me pass a course without using Teams wanted to fail me for my “absences,” despite my uploading homework throughout the semester. After a protracted argument, I was offered an option to meet online on January 8th… on Teams! I politely refused again, and reiterated my points. The professor eventually CC’d the Associate Dean in an email. In the meantime, the deadline to upload my thesis for a January defense expired. After many reminder emails, a response finally came, and through the Dean’s intercession I got a grade, passed my seventh semester and successfully defended my thesis in March.

Conclusions

Looking back, I’m proud of my actions. I took the risk of failing my studies, and I would end up with lower final grade than if I had submitted to the use of unethical and insecure software products. But I am content with this. I don’t think surrendering to nonfree platforms would bring any long-term benefits—only more compromises.

We can see some people are intolerant to software freedom principles, but in the end those were few and most university staff at the AGH were actually kind to me. Thanks to them I now have a proof that it is possible to study, graduate… indeed to live without relying on proprietary software. After all this hard experience, I feel more independent than ever, and I even received appreciation from the well-known RMS [3]. Hopefully, my story will help more students get to where I am.

Struggling to run only libre programs forced, and continues to force me, to gain new skills. I now know enough about web technologies to make several sites function without JavaScript. But what is best about my experience is that I will be able to share my fixes with others and eventually make a subset of the World Wide Web usable in freedom.

[1] Thanks to Andy Farnell, Andy Oram and Richard Stallman for their help.

[2] Throughout this essay, I refer to all university teachers in the vernacular as my professors, although only some wear that official academic title.

[3] Dr. Richard M. Stallman, Founder of the Free Software Foundation and Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project.

Link to original article.

My Comments

  • I’m sure if this had happened in the US, they never would have passed him.
  • And hypocrisy is alive and well with PROFESSORS.
  • I didn’t know that javascript allows for the SPYING and that most sites, and maybe even the software, uses it.
  • I’ve tried Jitsi before. In fact, when the war first started and Zoom was ALL the rage, I tried to look for something that wasn’t zoom that had screen sharing because that’s very important for me as I use that all the time.Someone told me about Jitsi.

    Unfortunately, it sucks. My website coder couldn’t handle the screen sharing after 10 minutes. We had to turn it off because it was freezing up all the time. Before that I even tried to reach out to the devs for Jitsi and I never heard back from them. I even tried to get them on Twitter and no response. I finally found someone else who must know them because then all of a sudden I got a response to my e-mail.

    This is the problem with most of these free software, it’s either not coded well, the interface looks terrible, or they don’t have enough power so that it works well. Unfortunately since the evils are trillionaires, they can throw tons of resources at their evil software.

    What doesn’t make sense to me though is that Skype was always free, and as far as I know, (I wasn’t using it back then) it always worked very well before microsoft bought them out and ruined it.

    I was using Skype before MS killed it, just not when it first launched.

  • I haven’t seen any FREE software not developed by the evils in years.

    I even complained about this 2-3 years ago because I was so upset when MS ruined Skype when they came out with Skype 8, that I stopped to think about it and I said… “when was the last time something really good came out.”

    I figured it was the evils buying out, stealing or stopping the developers from finishing off or creating new great software.

    Did you know that the evils will often invest in a programmer’s invention, but then only give them just enough money to work on it and NEVER finish it? I assume it’s the same for other types of inventors.

  • I donated to help the cause.

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