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Free Software Exponent Dr. Richard Stallman Warns of Data Exploitation

Reiterating his lack of trust in online and offline services offered by multinational giants, Dr. Richard M Stallman, an exponent of the free and open software movement opined that software users should attempt to circumvent manipulations which put private data at risk. “Users should avoid using web and offline services which snoop on private data,”

Reiterating his lack of trust in online and offline services offered by multinational giants, Dr. Richard M Stallman, an exponent of the free and open software movement opined that software users should attempt to circumvent manipulations which put private data at risk. “Users should avoid using web and offline services which snoop on private data,” said Dr. Stallman who has been openly campaigning against the monopoly services of Google and Microsoft.

Speaking at a lecture organised by ICFOSS on behalf of Kerala government in Technopark, he requested the audience not to upload his photos on social media

Dr. Stallman was speaking on the topic ‘What free software means and why the government’s responsibility is to use it’ at a series of lectures organised by International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) on behalf of the Government of Kerala. M Sivasankar IAS, Secretary, Electronics & IT, Government of Kerala, was also present at the event.

“If IT users do not appreciate freedom for privacy, then they will end up losing it. Even now, many employees of government and corporate companies are oblivious when it comes to the use of online/offline services at their disposal. Free software allows users to understand all aspects relating to it easily,” Dr. Stallman opined.

The exponent of free software also delivered a lecture at Technopark on the topic ‘Free Software, the threats, and our responses’. “Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, operate like a syndicate which help unleash large-scale surveillance programs,” said Dr. Stallman requesting his audience at Travancore Hall in Technopark to not post his images on social media.

He claims that out of 1000 applications in Google’s Play Store, close to 90 per cent leak the whereabouts of users. Meanwhile, Dr. Stallman lauded the State Government’s initiatives to use open software at schools in Kerala. He further suggested maintaining local public data centres and not outsourcing them to private third party services.

The lecture and interaction program was organised by Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment (SPACE), Free Software Foundation of India, Free Software Users Group and Prathidhwani, a socio-cultural forum of employees at Technopark. The lecture at Tehnopark also marked the 15th anniversary of SPACE, a collective of free software activists in Kerala.

According to the founder of the Free Software Movement, a key solution to check the snooping of private data is open source code-based software and web services. Open source code-based services, according to him, give users the freedom to modify a software or computer language to put a check on manipulations leading to the unauthorised gathering of private data.

Dr. Stallman has been the face of the free and open software movement around the globe. He has been advocating the use of free software, especially by governments, aiming to bring in transparency to operations and functions. He has also played a key role in campaigning against the restriction of the free use of software, a subject matter of intense debates at international technology forums.

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