[Assist] Fwd: Re: Telegram & Non-Free SaaSS

Brett Gilio brettg at posteo.net
Wed Jul 11 23:57:08 BST 2018

 From Dr. Richard Stallman

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: Telegram & Non-Free SaaSS
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2018 18:48:19 -0400
From: Richard Stallman <rms at gnu.org>
Reply-To: rms at gnu.org
To: Brett Gilio <brettg at posteo.net>
CC: rms at gnu.org

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   > As for the matter at hand, there is a popular instant messaging 
protocol   > called Telegram. As is increasingly common these days, the 
desktop   > client (which is written in native Qt) is GPL, as are the 
libraries   > required for it to run. However, as you might expect, the 
free desktop   > client /only/ has the ability to connect to a non-free 
and non-auditable   > SaaSS.

We agree about the facts.  Your analysis and mine diverge at this point.

The distinction between free and nonfree is applicable only to
programs (or, more generally, to works which do or can exist in
copies).  It is not meaningful for services of any kind.

See https://gnu.org/philosophy/network-services-arent-free-or-nonfree.html.

Every service is non-auditable by nature, so this is not a meaningful
criterion to judge individual services.  Every service is also outside
the control of its users, by nature.

That's why we say you should not entrust your own computing activity
to a service run by others that are not working in some way for you.
That mistaken practice is what we call Service as a Software Substitute.
See https://gnu.org/philosophy/who-does-that-server-really-serve.html.

As that page explains, communicating with others is not your own
personal activity.  It is, rather, a joint activity with others.

A server for communication with others is not SaaSS because it is not
substituting for a program.  On the contrary, you couldn't do that job
by running any collection of software on your own computer -- unless
you made your computer operate as a server.  But then your server
would have the same drawbacks as any other communications server,
for users other than you.

This is why we don't try to judge free programs that talk to servers
based on what the server does.  We urge people to reject SaaSS,
but this case is not SaaSS.

Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation (https://gnu.org, https://fsf.org)
Internet Hall-of-Famer (https://internethalloffame.org)

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