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Sunday December 21st 2014

Bytes Media Interviews Stallman





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Richard Stallman has a few things to say on the subject on anonymity and web search engines in the first part of an interview posted by Bytes Media. Stallman says he uses DuckDuckGo on a regular basis, but is not adverse to using Google, as long as Google doesn’t know that it is him. To get around Google tracking him, Stallman just uses someone else’s computer.

In the wake of the recent NSA tracking scandal, Stallman’s thoughts on protecting yourself online seem particularly prescient. However, I was a bit surprised by his willingness to use Google. After agreeing that we can not know for sure that DuckDuckGo does not collect information either passively (as by router logs or Amazon logs) or activly, he went on to say:

The point is, I don’t refuse to use Google search engine either because I just never find myself in such a way… I always just use it from other people’s computers, people who have let me use them, of course. [If] I don’t have to break security, I borrow people’s computers for a few minutes… for a while [incomprehensible] to use, so my searches are done from lots of different machines and each of those machines is mainly used by others.

I continue to be baffled by the free software community giving Google a free pass. I’m a bit surprised by Stallman in particular, since he is the founder of the free software movement, and continues to be a leading personality in the community. In an interview he gave to The Setup in 2010 he said:

I am using a Lemote Yeelong, a netbook with a Loongson chip and a 9-inch display. This is my only computer, and I use it all the time. I chose it because I can run it with 100% free software even at the BIOS level.

It seems to me that if you are going to concern yourself with free software down to the BIOS, free software online should be an equally high concern. But, to each his own.

The conversation looks like it will continue to be interesting, and I’m looking forward to Bytes Media posting the remainder of the interview.

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