Free Software which Censors and Restricts what Sites and services the user is Allowed To Read and use is still Free Software
Free Software which restricts the user in certain ways is not a new concept. Gentoo Linux started shipping a modified version of the Bitcoin crypto currency software which restricted who users were allowed to send BTC to using a big blacklist in 2014. The question of censorship in free software is becoming increasingly important as more and more developers are building blacklists restricting what the end-user can do into their software. Does user-restricting censoring software qualify as being free software? We asked the senior authority on this matter and apparently, it does.
Honorary doctor Richard Stallman, who wrote the original GNU GCC Compiler and the GNU General Public License, had this to say about user-restricting free software with built-in blacklists in an e-mail reply to us on July 9th, 2019 (answers in bold):
An increasing amount of software licensed under the GNU GPL have built-in blacklist which restricts what web servers end-users of the software are able to use.
Authors of such restrictive software argue that it is still free software because more technically adept users are able to download the source, remove the built-in censorship blacklists and recompile their own non-censoring version.
"That is correct."
Others argue that the distributed binaries are not free software even though they have a GNU GPL license because they do place restrictions on the user, restrictions most of the people using the software are not able to by-pass since they do not know how to compile software.
"Someone can publish a modified version which works with any web site, and distros can include that. Then non-wizard users will get around those restrictions."
"I will look at posting something about this point."
He is also the founder of the Free Software Foundation who's website is at https://www.fsf.org/
published 2019-09-10 - last edited 2019-07-10
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