Aral Balkan @aral

I want to make one thing very clear regarding

A conference on freedom-and-human-rights-respecting technology should not have a titan of like Google as sponsor. The good people in our community shouldn’t have to choose between having a platform to meet up at and having their legitimacy usurped by association to whitewash such companies. I’m attending under protest to meet and chat to some lovely members of the community.

Google doesn’t belong there.

@aral Let's kick this hyper-capitalist mass-surveilling behemoth out of our neighborhoods and out of our lives!


@aral Yes. I don't remember if they were sponsors in previous years. They might have been. In the more distant past, pre-Snowden, Google was considered more favorably. But now they're just a giant spyware company which has long since abandoned support for open standards.
Check the google summer code projects you'll see how many free software projects
>they're just a giant spyware company
when not worse
Imo it's no better than a brainwashing facility.

@aral Or even Trivago, Qwant (kudos for the politic tho) ?

@Technowix All problematic in their own ways. Alas there’s a character limit even on Mastodon instances ;)

@aral Also Google does not add the nofollow attribute to its sponsored link while penalizing website owners for doing that.

@aral Frankly, nor does Amazon yet there they be.

@aral I feel the same way about their sponsoring #Mozilla.

Friday troll? We often want offender to pay for damages, if there is nothing in return, it's totally fair.

@jibec Being listed as a primary sponsor is a position of prestige, not punishment. (If this is really how sees it, please just copy the text of your toot to the sponsors page next to Google’s logo in parenthesis (“We often want offender to pay damages”) and I won’t have a problem with the association at all at that point. Otherwise, if FOSDEM has any legitimacy in privacy/human rights it’s the equivalent of Greenpeace being sponsored by Exxon Mobil. i.e., whitewashing

"FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate". There is nothing about privacy or human rights.

I fight google everyday by contributing @yunohost and #selfhosting but it still is OK to have google as sponsor for fosdem, even if imperfect.

@jibec @yunohost Interesting, this is the first I’m hearing that Free Software/Libré has nothing to do with human rights/privacy (pretty sure Richard would be surprised to learn this too). I know open source doesn’t but FOSDEM styles itself as more than “open source”. I guess they’re not so I was confused by the discrepancy between what they say they are and what they actually are.

@aral The whole point is that if the software is libre, the power is among the commons to use it for good (or bad). The underlying requirement for an open, democratic society is transparency, so in that sense libre software is a requirement. But also - considering it _is_ free/libre - there is nothing contradicting per say in the use of !fs for surveillance, military projects etc.

@mmn @aral And some people write articles with title like « Stop trying to make Libre Software a political topic » - because they don't care : for them, libre software is just "the best way to make software" in the technical sense.

In fact the whole "ethical technology" thing is very different (though related) than just libre software and we have very few semantic tools / words to properly talk about it...

@aral @jibec @yunohost Yeah, Stallman regularly says in his speaches that:

a) The Four Freedoms are vital for supporting our other human rights in the digital age.
b) And before you can trust your privacy to some software, it must respect the Four Freedoms.
c) But licensing restrictions aren't the right tool to prevent the powerful for misusing FS for surveillance, etc.

But he might not be surprised FOSS doesn't maintain these principles to the same extent.

@jibec @aral @yunohost

Maybe noting is said about #privacy in the About Page, but there is at least a Decentralised Internet and Privacy devroom :

A good question is what does Google asks in return? Nothing but being visible?

And at least Facebook is not a sponsor as it was in 2010:

@aral they should’ve sponsored DuckDuckGo instead.

@aral On the one hand, Google et al belong as they benefit tremendously from free software's freedom. On the otherhand, they don't as they refuse to pass that freedom on to their "users".

Personally, like you, I prefer not.

And Amazon definitely not as ontop of everything their employees aren't allowed to upstream their work for Amazon. Terrible policy.


A lovely sentiment, but perhaps more than a little exemplary of "the perfect is the enemy of the good".

@ritjoe It is “the perfect is the enemy of the good” insofar as Greenpeace having Exxon Mobil as a sponsor or a lung cancer ward having Phillip Morris as a sponsor is. i.e., it’s not pragmatism but a fundamental conflict of interests; an association that results in the party with the social legitimacy effectively whitewashing the corporate entity whose business model stands in stark opposition to its social mission. It’s the equivalent of being the doctor in a tobacco ad.

I guess you'd think Apple would be an ok sponsor?

@aral i totally agree with u but i just want to point out i think whitewash is when you represent people of colour as white, for example JESUS, or having Scarjo play a Japanese woman. The one with Exxon and greenpeace would be "greenwash", but i don't know the label for when google sponsors this, other than coopting ethical tech spaces.

@wolftune See: institutional corruption.

@aral well yeah, the power of conflicts-of-interest is indeed *massively* under-appreciated.