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<h2>Proprietary Interference</h2>

<div class="infobox">
<hr class="full-width" />
<p>Nonfree (proprietary) software is very often malware (designed to
mistreat the user). Nonfree software is controlled by its developers,
which puts them in a position of power over the users; <a
href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">that is the
basic injustice</a>. The developers and manufacturers often exercise
that power to the detriment of the users they ought to serve.</p>

<p>

<p>This typically takes the form of malicious functionalities.</p>
<hr class="full-width" />
</div>

<div class="article">
<p>One kind of malicious functionality mediates developer's interference
into the use of the software. This page describes how various proprietary
programs mess up harass or annoy the
user's system. They user, or cause trouble for the user.  These
actions are like sabotage, <a
href="/proprietary/proprietary-sabotage#about-page">sabotage</a>, but they are not grave enough
to qualify for the
word “sabotage”. Nonetheless, they are nasty and
wrong. “sabotage” is too strong for them.
</p>

<div class="important">
<p>If you know of an example that ought to be in this page but isn't
here, please write to <a
href="mailto:webmasters@gnu.org"><webmasters@gnu.org></a>
to inform us. Please include the URL of a trustworthy reference or two
to present serve as specific substantiation.</p>
</div>

<div class="column-limit" id="proprietary-interference"></div>

<ul class="blurbs">
  <li id="M202110070">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2021-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p><a
    href="https://slate.com/technology/2021/10/facebook-unfollow-everything-cease-desist.html">Facebook's
    nonfree client forces its useds to look at the newsfeed</a>. A used
    of Facebook developed a browser add-on to make it easier to unfollow
    everyone and thus make the newsfeed empty.  Many of the people used
    by Facebook loved this, because they regard the newsfeed as a burden
    that Facebook imposes on them.</p>

    <p>If the client software for Facebook were free, useds could probably
    make the newsfeed disappear by modifying the client not to display
    it.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202106190">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2021-06</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p><a
    href="https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/06/even-creepier-covid-tracking-google-silently-pushed-app-to-users-phones/">Google
    automatically installed an app on many proprietary Android phones</a>. The app
    might or might not do malicious things but the power Google has over proprietary
    Android phones is dangerous.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202105300">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2021-05</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p><a
    href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/may/30/gadgets-have-stopped-working-together-interoperability-apple">Apple
    is systematically undermining interoperability</a>. At the hardware
    level, it does this via nonstandard plugs, buses and networks. At
    the software level, it does this by not letting the user have any
    data except within one app.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202105130">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2021-05</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p><a
    href="https://gizmodo.com/get-ready-for-in-car-ads-1846888390">Ford
    is planning to force ads on drivers in cars</a>, with the ability for
    the owner to pay extra to turn them off. The system probably imposes
    surveillance on drivers too.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202104060">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2021-04</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The <a
    href="https://www.wired.com/story/weddings-social-media-apps-photos-memories-miscarriage-problem/">WeddingWire
    app saves people's wedding photos forever and hands over data
    to others</a>, giving users no control over their personal 
    information/data. The app also sometimes shows old photos and
    memories to users, without giving them any control over this
    either.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202102180">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2021-02</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft is <a
    href="https://uk.pcmag.com/operating-systems/131798/microsoft-starts-automatically-removing-flash-from-windows">forcibly
    removing the Flash player from computers running Windows 10</a>, using
    <a href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html#windows-update">a
    universal backdoor in Windows</a>.</p>

    <p>The fact that Flash has been <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html#M202012020">disabled
    by Adobe</a> is no excuse for this abuse of power. The nature of
    proprietary software, such as Microsoft Windows, gives the developers
    power to impose their decisions on users. Free software on the other
    hand empowers users to make their own decisions.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202010180">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft is <a
    href="https://www.slashgear.com/windows-10-users-are-grumpy-over-forced-updates-and-unwanted-apps-18643135/">forcing
    Windows users</a> to <a
    href="https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/manage-updates-in-windows-643e9ea7-3cf6-7da6-a25c-95d4f7f099fe">install
    upgrades it pushes</a> using <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html#windows-update">its
    universal back doors</a>. These upgrades can do various harms to
    users such as restricting computers from some functions and/or forcing
    users to defenselessly do whatever Microsoft tells them to do.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202005250">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-05</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Tesla's cars have a <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html#M201709090.1">
    universal remote back door</a>.  Tesla used it to <a
    href="https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/6/21127243/tesla-model-s-autopilot-disabled-remotely-used-car-update">
    disable the autopilot features</a> on people's cars to make them pay
    extra for re-enabling the features.</p>

    <p>This kind of malfeature is only possible with proprietary
    software—free software is controlled by its users who wouldn't
    let do such things to them.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202004150">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2020-04</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Riot Games' new anti-cheat is malware; <a
    href="https://www.extremetech.com/gaming/309320-riot-games-new-anti-cheat-system-runs-at-system-boot-uses-kernel-driver">runs
    on system boot at kernel level</a> on Windows. It is insecure software
    that increases the attack surface of the operating system.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201912170">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-12</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Some security breakers (wrongly referred in this article as <a
    href="/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#Hacker">“hackers”</a>)
    managed to interfere the Amazon Ring proprietary system, and <a
    href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/dec/13/ring-hackers-reportedly-watching-talking-strangers-in-home-cameras">access
    its camera, speakers and microphones</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201908150">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-08</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Apple is putting DRM on iPhone
    batteries, and the system proprietary software <a
    href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/59nz3k/apple-is-locking-batteries-to-specific-iphones-a-nightmare-for-diy-repair">turns
    off certain features when batteries are replaced other than by
    Apple.</a></p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201901230">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Google is modifying Chromium so that <a
    href="https://tech.slashdot.org/story/19/01/23/0048202/google-proposes-changes-to-chromium-browser-that-will-break-content-blocking-extensions-including-various-ad-blockers">
    extensions won't be able to alter or block whatever the page
    contains</a>. Users could conceivably reverse the change in a fork
    of Chromium, but surely Chrome (nonfree) will have the same change,
    and users can't fix it there.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201901110">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2019-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Samsung phones come preloaded with <a
    href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-08/samsung-phone-users-get-a-shock-they-can-t-delete-facebook">
    a version of the Facebook app that can't be deleted</a>. <a
    href="https://www.infopackets.com/news/10484/truth-behind-undeletable-facebook-app">
    Facebook claims this is a stub</a> which doesn't do anything, but we
    have to take their word for it, and there is the permanent risk that
    the app will be activated by an automatic update.</p>

    <p>Preloading crapware along with a nonfree operating system is common
    practice, but by making the crapware undeletable, Facebook and Samsung (<a
    class="not-a-duplicate"
    href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-08/samsung-phone-users-get-a-shock-they-can-t-delete-facebook">among others</a>)
    are going one step further in their hijacking of users' devices.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201809120">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-09</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>One version of Windows 10 <a
    href="https://www.ghacks.net/2018/09/12/microsoft-intercepting-firefox-chrome-installation-on-windows-10/">
    harangues users if they try to install Firefox (or Chrome)</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201807310">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-07</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>A nonfree video game, available through the nonfree Steam client, <a
    href="https://www.extremetech.com/gaming/274552-great-now-games-are-hijacking-systems-with-">
    included a “miner”</a>, i.e. an executable that hijacks
    the CPU in users' computers to mine a cryptocurrency.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201805080">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-05</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>A cracker used an exploit in outdated software to <a
    href="https://www.pcmag.com/news/360968/400-websites-secretly-served-cryptocurrency-miners-to-visito">
    inject a “miner” in web pages</a> served to visitors. This
    type of malware hijacks the computer's processor to mine a
    cryptocurrency.</p>

    <p><small>(Note that the article refers to the specifics.</p>

<ul>
<li><p>Pearson's infected software
    as “content management system”. A better term would be
    “<a href="/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#Content">website
    revision system</a>”.)</small></p>

    <p>Since the miner was a nonfree JavaScript program,
    visitors wouldn't have been affected if they had used <a
    href="/software/librejs/index.html">LibreJS</a>. Some
    browser extensions that <a
    href="https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/how-to-stop-sites-from-using-your-cpu-to-mine-coins/">
    specifically block JavaScript miners</a> are also available.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201804180">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-04</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Pearson's proprietary educational software <a
    href="https://gizmodo.com/pearson-embedded-a-social-psychological-experiment-in-s-1825367784">
    did an experiment on real students</a>, treating students differently
    to observe the results.</p></li>

  <li><p>Microsoft results.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201803190">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2018-03</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft is planning to make Windows <a
    href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/19/windows-10-microsoft-force-people-edge-browser-windows-mail-chrome-firefox">
    impose use of its browser, Edge, in certain circumstances</a>.</p>

    <p>The reason Microsoft can force things on users is that Windows
    is
      nonfree.</p></li>

  <li><p>Windows nonfree.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201712060">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2017-12</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Learn how <a
    href="https://web.archive.org/web/20170319013045/https://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-farrell/the-fascinating-psycholog_b_6076502.html">
    gratis-to-play-and-not-win-much games manipulate their useds
    psychologically</a>.</p>

    <p>These manipulative behaviors are malicious functionalities, and they
    are possible because the game is proprietary. If it were free, people
    could publish a non-manipulative version and play that instead.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201703170">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2017-03</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Windows displays <a
    href="http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/17/14956540/microsoft-windows-10-ads-taskbar-file-explorer">
    intrusive ads for Microsoft products and its partners'
    products</a>.</p>

    <p>The article's author starts from the premise that Microsoft has
    a right to control what Windows does to users, as long as it doesn't
    go “too far”. We disagree.</p></li>
  
  <li><p>Microsoft inserts <a
href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/10/windows-10-users-complain-new-microsoft-subscription-onedrive-adverts">
      annoying advertisements inside of the File Explorer</a> to nag
      users to buy subscriptions for the OneDrive service.</p></li>

<li><p>An disagree.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201701110">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2017-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>An upgrade package for Acrobat Reader <a
    href="https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/software/adobe-acrobat-reader-dc-update-installs-chrome-browser-extension/">silently
    alters Chrome</a>.</p>
  </li>

<li>In order to increase Windows 10's install base,

  <li id="M201612140">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-12</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>The Microsoft
<a
href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/08/windows-10-microsoft-blatantly-disregards-user-choice-and-privacy-deep-dive">
blatantly disregards user choice Telemetry Compatibility service <a
    href="https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-performance/microsoft-telemetry-compatibility/cefa7c8e-49c9-4965-aef6-2d5f01bb38f2?tab=AllReplies#tabs">
    drastically reduces the performances of machines running
    Windows 10</a>, and privacy</a>. can't be disabled easily.</p>
  </li>

<li>
<p>Microsoft has
started

  <li id="M201608170">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-08</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p> After <a
href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/04/microsoft-windows-10-full-screen-upgrade-notification-pop-up-reminder">
nagging users obnoxiously href="/proprietary/malware-microsoft.html#windows10-forcing">forcing the download of Windows 10</a>
    on computers that were running Windows 7 and 8, Microsoft <a
    href="https://www.computerworld.com/article/3012278/microsoft-sets-stage-for-massive-windows-10-upgrade-strategy.html">
    repeatedly switched on a flag that urged users to
    “upgrade” to install Windows 10</a>.</p>
</li>

<li><p>Microsoft 10</a> when they had turned
    it off, in the hope that some day they would fail to say no.
    To do this, Microsoft used <a href="http://news.softpedia.com/news/windows-10-upgrade-reportedly-starting-automatically-on-windows-7-pcs-501651.shtml">is
      tricking users</a>
    href="https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/17/microsoft_windows_10_upgrade_gwx_vs_humanity/">
    malware techniques</a>.</p>

    <p>A detailed <a
href="https://web.archive.org/web/20160522062607/http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/17/microsoft_windows_10_upgrade_gwx_vs_humanity/">
into replacing Windows 7 with Windows 10</a>.</p></li>

<li><p>Microsoft
    href="https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/08/windows-10-microsoft-blatantly-disregards-user-choice-and-privacy-deep-dive">
    analysis of Microsoft's scheme</a> is available on the Electronic
    Frontier Foundation's website.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201603090">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-03</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft has made companies'
    Windows machines managed by the company's sysadmins <a
    href="http://www.infoworld.com/article/3042397/microsoft-windows/admins-beware-domain-attached-pcs-are-sprouting-get-windows-10-ads.html">harangue
    users to complain to the sysadmins about not “upgrading”
    to Windows
10</a>.</p></li>

<li><p>Apple forced millions of iThings to <a href="https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7256669?tstart=0">download a system upgrade
without asking the users.</a> Apple did not forcibly install the upgrade
but the downloading alone caused lots of trouble.</p></li>

<li><p>Adobe nonfree software may halt all other work and freeze a computer <a
href="http://shallowsky.com/blog/gimp/non-free-software-surprises.html">
to perform a license check</a>, at a random time every 30 days.</p></li>

<li><p>Microsoft 10</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201601160">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2016-01</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Microsoft has <a
    href="http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/16/10780876/microsoft-windows-support-policy-new-processors-skylake">desupported
    all future Intel CPUs for Windows 7 and 8</a>. Those
    machines will be stuck with the nastier Windows 10.  <a
    href="http://gizmodo.com/only-the-latest-version-of-windows-will-run-on-some-fut-1753545825">
    AMD and Qualcomm CPUs, too</a>.
</p> too</a>.</p>

    <p>Of course, Windows 7 and 8 are unethical too, because they are
    proprietary software.  But this example of Microsoft's wielding its
    power demonstrates the power it holds.
</p> holds.</p>

    <p>Free software developers also stop maintaining old versions of
    their programs, but this is not unfair to users because the users of
    free software have control over it.  If it is important enough to you,
    you and other users can hire someone to support the old version on
    your future platforms.
</p></li>

<li><p>Oracle platforms.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201510220">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2015-10</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Adobe nonfree software may halt
    all other work and freeze a computer <a
    href="http://shallowsky.com/blog/gimp/non-free-software-surprises.html">
    to perform a license check</a>, at a random time every 30 days.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201506260">
    <!--#set var="DATE" value='<small class="date-tag">2015-06</small>'
    --><!--#echo encoding="none" var="DATE" -->
    <p>Oracle made a deal with Yahoo; Oracle's nonfree Java plug-in will <a
    href="http://searchengineland.com/yahoo-signs-deal-with-oracle-to-attract-new-users-via-java-installs-224097">
    change the user's initial web page, and default search engine, to
    Yahoo</a> unless the user intervenes to stop it.</p></li>

<li><p>
Microsoft is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/sep/11/microsoft-downloading-windows-1">
repeatedly nagging many users to install Windows 10</a>.
</p></li>

<li><p>
Microsoft was for months <a
href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/02/microsoft-downloading-windows-10-automatic-update">
tricking users into “upgrading” to Windows 10</a>, if they
fail to notice and say no.
</p></li> it.</p>
  </li>
</ul>

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