Freedom for IP endorses the Franklin Statement with comments and suggestions for amending the user recommendation. The theory is great and I applaud the work.
Here is the full statement:
We consider network services that are Free Software and which share Free Data as a good starting-point for ensuring users’ freedom. Although we have not yet formally defined what might constitute a ‘Free Service’, we do have suggestions that developers, service providers, and users should consider:
Developers of network service software are encouraged to:
* Use the GNU Affero GPL, a license designed specifically for network service software, to ensure that users of services have the ability to examine the source or implement their own service.
* Develop freely-licensed alternatives to existing popular but non-Free network services.
* Develop software that can replace centralized services and data storage with distributed software and data deployment, giving control back to users.
Service providers are encouraged to:
* Choose Free Software for their service.
* Release customizations to their software under a Free Software license.
* Make data and works of authorship available to their service’s users under legal terms and in formats that enable the users to move and use their data outside of the service. This means:
o Users should control their private data.
o Data available to all users of the service should be available under terms approved for Free Cultural Works or Open Knowledge.
Users are encouraged to:
* Consider carefully whether to use software on someone else’s computer at all. Where it is possible, they should use Free Software equivalents that run on their own computer. Services may have substantial benefits, but they represent a loss of control for users and introduce several problems of freedom.
* When deciding whether to use a network service, look for services that follow the guidelines listed above, so that, when necessary, they still have the freedom to modify or replicate the service without losing their own data.
FFIP’s comments; please consider amending the user statement:
“Where it is possible, they should use Free Software equivalents that run on their own computer.” This is near Luddite talk… It is almost always possible to use an app on your own comp, but it is so inefficient. Networked online apps are not inherently evil, should you back up your work offline, yes. Should you have alternative options and data portability, yes. You should fight to improve them. But you should not avoid them like the plague.
I would rewrite the user section to say:
Users are encouraged to:
* Consider carefully how they use software on someone else’s computer. Where it is practical and efficient, they should use Free Software equivalents that run on their own computer. Services may have substantial benefits, but they can represent a loss of control for users and can introduce problems for freedom.
* Look for network services that follow the guidelines listed above, so that users still have the freedom to modify or replicate the service without losing their own data.
* Take precautions when using any online service and back up their data in case of problems or opportunities to migrate to more ethical alternatives.
Mike’s comments on rewriting the user portions:
The statement doesn’t advocate avoiding network services–see “Where it is possible”, and most of the statement concerns how network services can be free. However, it is easy to read the sentence Rowe quoted and see Luddism. I hope that to some it instead serves as a challenge, for:
- Applications that run on your own computer can be networked, i.e., P2P.
- Your own computer does not only include your laptop and home server, but any hardware you control, and I think that should often include virtual hardware.