Richard Stallman calls for increased use of Free Software

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Trivandrum: Richard M Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project and the free Software movement, has stressed the need to promote the use of free software and reduce the dependence on non-free software programmes. He said this during his talk on ‘A Free Digital Society’ in Thiruvananthapuram today, which was organised by the Society for Promotion of Alternate Computing and Employment (SPACE) on the occasion of their 10th anniversary.

Stallman focused on the need of free software that enables us to learn and live in freedom. “The free software has an echo of the word ‘swatantra’ in the minds of computer users all over the world. As we are living in a highly advanced era of science and technological advancements, it is inevitable for us to travel along with the emerging innovations”, he said. According to him, surveillance, censorship, non-free software and collection of personal data by websites and web servers are some of the major threats towards a free digital society.

Talking about surveillance, Stallman said that the State make stop digital systems from amassing dossiers on its citizens. The State must respect people’s privacy in order to make democracy better. He firmly believes in the fact that non-free programmes have malicious content and this is used for surveillance. There is massive surveillance by ISPs and Telecom (Phone) companies. “We must resist surveillance personally and work together collectively to stop it”, he added.

Describing censorship as a bigger threat, he said that many countries have the power to censor anything and they have started controlling Internet access as well. Giving the recent examples of Internet censorship by countries like Finland, the UK and India, he said, “Freedom takes a beating while censorship is applied and this is a threat to democracy as it shows lack of respect for human rights”. He also stressed the fact the freedom of speech online was an important aspect of a free digital society and people should have a right to do anything on cyberspace. He was against the ‘war on sharing’ as people should have the benefit of digital society.

During the session, Stallman gave the audience a brief idea about how and why he developed the GNU operating system in 1983 and also explained the differences between Open Source, Free Software and Non-free Software.

Aparna Ajith
Kerala IT News

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