Adding @conservancy and “Copyleft Conference” to my personal list of surveillance capitalism whitewashers sponsored by Google and its ilk.

It’s not fucking rocket science, people. If you’re sponsored by the wolf, it’s highly unlikely that you’re working in the interests of the sheep.

@aral you probably need to blacklist Debian, Firefox, etc.

Getting funds from an entity doesn't infer that said-entity has control. It does infer that one can be suspicious or weary of such control, sure. But taking one for the other is grossly misleading. Proportions matter too!.

Debian is a good example of such independance, I invite you to look into its governance processes. If you find Google influence, let it know!

@OdyX You’re right. It’s like how Greenpeace gets hundreds of millions of dollars from Exxon Mobil so why shouldn’t Mozilla get hundreds of millions from Google? It’s not like money is influence. I mean, what next? Will people start using terms like “institutional corruption” and complaining about lobbying and revolving doors? Silly sausages!

No, money is entirely neutral. I can be a women’s rights organisation fully funded by the Saudi government and be entirely independent.


You put "organizations mostly funded by #evil" in the same basket with "organizations partly funded by #evil", which is not a meaningful equivalence.

If your argument is "any amount of #evil funding discredits the funded organization", it totally misses two points IMHO:
- money is an enabler, and without ties attached, it enables more than it corrupts;
- funding diversity _immensly_ dilutes any funder's influence.

(Also: sarcasm doesn't support your arguments, it weakens it.)

@OdyX @aral
"- money is an enabler, and without ties attached, it enables more than it corrupts;"

ties are always attached
or you're saying it's more like the old joke?:

A man asks a woman if she would be willing to sleep with him if he pays her an exorbitant sum. She replies affirmatively. He then names a paltry amount and asks if she would still be willing to sleep with him for the revised fee. The woman is greatly offended and responds

"What kind of woman do you think I am?"

"We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling over the price."

@OdyX Look, I’m not an idiot whisperer. If for whatever reason you don’t want to see the corruption, that’s your right. I’ll continue calling it out when I see it and to do my best not to partake in it.

Have a good life.


> Look, I’m not an idiot whisperer.

this is kind of a bad look.

@brennen Thank fuck I’m not one for keeping up appearances then.

@aral i'm as much of an asshole about this stuff as most anybody, to a point, but i've been reading your stuff for a while and i'm kinda like... yeah, ok, it sucks that tech conferences are sponsored by google. on the other hand, i'm not sure what good there is in a sponsorship like that causing me to flip some absolutist fuck-you bit on an org i otherwise think does good work.

@aral this is roughly the intellectual equivalent of me flipping the fuck-you bit on your opinions 'cause you use apple shit or whatever.

but then my SO works for the big evil here, and a google salary pays half the rent on my house, etc., so i s'pose i should either break up with her or just walk into the sea or something.

today is a day for me to notice all sorts of unpleasant edges on all the fundamentalisms in the air of late.

@brennen @aral Some people have traditionally bemoaned Conservancy as being too fundamentalist about things, but I think they (and Kuhn in particular) have long walked the tough line of being strident and firm in one's beliefs without being irrational or self-defeating about it. It's a very hard thing to pull off, that I personally think we should all aspire to.

@aral @brennen (This is in part why I've lately been simultaneously been getting increasingly fed up with people running Apple or Microsoft OSes, but *also* really getting into KDE's `craft`, which makes compiling and packaging KDE apps for Windows and macOS incredibly streamlined. While I may personally dislike their choices, giving people positive examples and alternatives that are practical within their own lives is far better than berating them.)

@brennen @aral After all, we live in a world where, for example:

That's terrible and untenable, and we need to push against that, but our response to it can't be "well then don't use a phone at all, you fool". That's just not a practical approach.


I understand that your point is that any funding level/proportion amounts to corruption, and by that follows that any entity accepting Google money gets to be discredited on these grounds only.

Let's agree to disagree then.

Have a good life too. I mean, you're not wrong about Silicon Valley companies trying to influence other projects and groups to stamp out diversity of thought and control narratives. Not to mention the 'mostly v partly' argument was kind of weak. "he's 51% evil and I'm 49% evil...the difference is I'm partly evil but he's mostly evil." Weak argument from a person of weak consistency maybe. It's not like a newly introduced code of conduct was used in an attempt to remove developers from the Linux project that were keeping out the backdoors or anything like that...oh wait.

@aral I'll concede one thing though: if your topic is A, accepting funding from #evil doing anti-A is problematic, and should be discussed.

BUT… Trying to shade discredit onto @conservancy (a #copyleft organization) for accepting Google money (to be despised over privacy concerns), your using the wrong hammer to hit the wrong nail: you mix unrelated topics.

@aral are you friend of andreas antonopoulos ? 🧐

@aral you should listen to him, you guys sharing same ideals

@Eyal Ah, Bitcoin. No. Very different. I’m not interested in destroying our environment so that I can get rich.

@aral it’s just something you said reminded me something he always says in he’s lectures, regardless to bitcoin and all that Odyx, if you were to compare Firefox current to Firefox before it went chrome-clone would it look the same? Or should we bring up pocket? Maybe 'Hello'? I don't exactly have a dog in this fight but you're talking the dumbest I've heard all year.

@aral @conservancy do you assume any action of whitewashing or retained action they should do? would you suggest (anyone) not to take google money (even if it's unconditional)?

@davidak @conservancy There’s so such thing as unconditional money: at the very least you legitimise them if your org has legitimacy in human rights/privacy/etc.

Just replace Google with Palantir or Exxon Mobil or Halliburton or The Saudi Royal Family and see if alters how you feel about the core issue.

@aral @conservancy @davidak

I think that I understand the history of why Google sponsors various free software related events. A decade ago the company was seen as a big success for free software and open standards ("the most magnificent creature in the [software] ecosystem" - Eben Moglen) but especially in the last five years many things have changed.

I generally support Conservancy, but these days having Google sponsor your event is at a minimum a poor public relations choice. It'll be too late to back out now, but if the conference continues beyond this year the sponsors decisions should be revisited.

The reason why these big companies sponsor such events is primarily for recruiting and secondarily for brand recognition. Google's actual interest in copyleft at this point seems questionable. As far as I can tell they're on a path towards removing copyleft from Android.

I think we're actually at a rather critical time in which while Free Software and copyleft appears to be doing well its future is far from assured. The entire computing industry has been going beyond the personal computing era into a new dystopian phase of "warehouse computing" centralized on a global scale. With the rise of The Cloud there has been a lot of consolidation, and we seem to be heading back towards the mainframe paradigm. Can the user still retain meaningful control in a situation where any computing of importance happens in a warehouse owned by a megacorporation?

it would take a hell of a lot worse than this to convince me to stop supporting @conservancy because they're an rare and incredibly important organization working in the interests of individuals and the community, and copyleft itself is a topic that needs more prominence

but @aral makes a good point: if Google gives your conference $5k, does that mean talk proposals that intend to lambast their AGPL ban (or anything else) might be rejected, when they otherwise would not be?

@pho4cexa @aral @conservancy In a vacuum, that's a valid theoretical concern.

But for this particular instance, I mean really any organization or conference with Bradley Kuhn in a prominent role, I'm not exactly going to be too worried about pro-AGPL talks or the like being tossed aside ;)

@keithzg @conservancy @pho4cexa Looks like they also partner with Google: “Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is a great example to show the value a non-profit home brings to Free Software projects. GSoC is likely the largest philanthropic program in the Open Source and Free Software community today.”

Good luck to us getting policymakers to regulate Google if that’s the case. They sound amazing! Not a surveillance capitalist at all.

@aral @pho4cexa @conservancy @keithzg This is something I didn't know about, and maybe explains the Google sponsorship in this case. Google is entering into some relationship with Conservancy favorable to Free Software developers and so conference sponsorship is perhaps a favor in return.

It's long past time that we started thinking beyond Google, and as far as possible to remove these big companies from their positions of being able to purchase influence. So I'd be in favor of an alternative copyleft/FS conference which doesn't have these types of relationships.

@bob The post google internet is already here. A few million people are already using it. we must now work towards mainstream adoption. So we can end googlegestapo

@dtluna @conservancy @pho4cexa @keithzg Big business loves regulations it can control via institutional corruption; it hates being regulated against its will. Eric Schmidt to me a few years ago: “I wake up every morning and fight regulation – it’s what I do, it’s my job.”

@aral @keithzg @pho4cexa @conservancy @dtluna

i think all these Free Software, developer, etc. conferences need to stop trying to play the "Big Conference" game. We have to be smarter about everything. The long term effects of the decisions made now will be significant. Why try to rent some expensive space where the speakers have no time for questions, attendees have to have their rights violated and their wallets drained to travel and conference organizers feel the need to accept money from govs/corps that have different interests? Why not organize, market/promote (all year in advance as needed?) to have have simultaneous local meetups at whatever venues/locations people want to use in their area (private land, parks, outdoor theatres, whatever), sponsored or not (with that decision made locally), that are patched into the live stream or just let everyone record their own simultaneous meetups and upload the videos to peertube or something under the same account/tag? this would allow more freedom in how the sub conferences were held, save money, and reach more people. Have standards/recommendations for video and audio recording so that everyone's videos are actually watchable. Incorporate the fediverse into the conferences: that sort of thing. It's sometimes demoralizing to see the current state of conferences, even though strides have been made in video/audio quality, and the fact that videos are recorded and released at all is great. Now we just need to take the next few steps to "leap frog" the rigged status quo.

Conservancy is actually a hotbed of AGPL fans, with staff coming from Arvados and Media Goblin. @keithzg @aral @pho4cexa

@conservancy @keithzg @pho4cexa Why are you sponsored by Google and thus legitimising one of the world’s largest surveillance capitalists? Google makes billions by tracking and profiling people and using that intimate insight to manipulate their behaviour. Oh, and ironically for a Copyleft conference organised by “a hotbed of AGPL fans”, your platinum sponsor doesn’t allow use of AGPL/Copyleft at their company.

We are not shying away from talking about the AGPL at Copyleft Conf. We also aren't selling talk slots or offering any kind of veto power to sponsors. @pho4cexa @aral

@conservancy @pho4cexa No, you are just legitimising one of the world’s largest surveillance capitalists who also doesn’t allow the subject of your conference to be used at their company.

Me: Google is a surveillance capitalist and is a threat to our human rights and democracy, we must regulate it.

Policymaker: Aral, you silly man, you must be utterly confused. Google is a great company: Look, even Software Freedom Conservancy is happy to be sponsored by them.

@aral @pho4cexa @conservancy this is a great thread. I think companies like Google are incentivized to invest in open source stuff and conferences because that's what their customers run on their cloud offering, which is a big moneymaker for them people don't think about since its google and they were already rich.

I still agree though, Google sponsorship is highly suspect

@aral @conservancy @pho4cexa

If I remember correctly, when Google Code was a thing (and #GitHub wasn't much yet), the ban was not just internal, nor it was about #AGPL only: #GPLv3 was excluded too.

The right to #SelfHost applications is in direct contrast with #Google #BusinessModel's need to centralise, control and log. Even just GPLv2 is so annoying to them that they are writing #Fuchsia to get rid of #Linus and #copyleft on #Android.

@aral @conservancy @pho4cexa

#Surveillance is not limited to #Capitalism and in this specific case, even if I agree with you that #Google legitimation is unfortunate and dangerous, I think that the conflict of interest occurs way before dwelling that deep.

Google can't simply afford to support copyleft for real: if their code was in the Commons AND easy to #host and #customize for everyone there would be no #BigData collection for #AI.

@Shamar @aral @conservancy @pho4cexa I do want to point out that the latest version of auto-upgradable #AGPL (currently, "AGPL-3.0-or-later") is also good for non-web software, since it gives a potential website guest the freedoms that the software received and passed to the website owner in case this one implements a " web version" of the software.

@adfeno @aral @conservancy @pho4cexa

It depends on your definition of "good".

The reach of AGPL is pretty limited if used on a #Web site. Specifically, it only apply to the software itself granting to users access to the modifications: good but a Web application usually integrate several software so that even if you have access to one of them, you cannot control the whole application and self-host it to protect your data.

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