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<title>Proprietary Software
- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation</title>
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<h2>Proprietary Software Is Often Malware</h2>

<div id="skiplinks">
<p class="button"><a href="#TOC">Table of contents</a></p>
<p class="button"><a href="#latest">Latest additions</a></p>
</div>
<div style="clear: both"></div>

<p>Proprietary software, also called nonfree software,
means software that doesn't
<a href="/philosophy/free-sw.html">respect users' freedom and
community</a>.  A proprietary program puts its developer or owner
<a href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">
in a position of power over its users.</a>
This power is in itself an injustice.</p>

<p>The point of this page is that the initial injustice of proprietary
software often leads to further injustices: malicious
functionalities.</p>

<p>Power corrupts; the proprietary program's developer is tempted to
design the program to mistreat its users.  (Software whose functioning
mistreats the user is called <em>malware</em>.)  Of course, the
developer usually does not do this out of malice, but rather to profit
more at the users' expense.  That does not make it any less nasty or
more legitimate.</p>

<p>Yielding to that temptation has become ever more frequent; nowadays
it is standard practice.  Modern proprietary software is typically
a way to be had.</p>

<p>As of January, 2017, April, 2019, the files pages in this directory list around 260 400
instances of malicious functionalities, functionalities (with more than 450 references to
back them up), but there are surely thousands more we don't know about.</p>

<div class="toc">
<div class="companies">
<ul>
  <li><strong>Company

<table id="TOC">
 <tr>
  <th>Injustices or type of product</strong></li> techniques</th>
  <th>Products or companies</th>
 </tr>
 <tr>
  <td>
   <ul>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html">Apple Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html">Addictions</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-microsoft.html">Microsoft Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html">Back doors</a> (<a href="#f1">1</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-adobe.html">Adobe Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Malware in mobile devices</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-coverups.html">Coverups</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-kindle-swindle.html">Malware in the Amazon
      Swindle</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-deception.html">Deception</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-games.html">Malware in games</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-drm.html">DRM</a> (<a href="#f2">2</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-appliances.html">Malware in appliances</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-incompatibility.html">Incompatibility</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-insecurity.html">Insecurity</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-interference.html">Interference</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-jails.html">Jails</a> (<a href="#f3">3</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-manipulation.html">Manipulation</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-sabotage.html">Sabotage</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-subscriptions.html">Subscriptions</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-surveillance.html">Surveillance</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tethers.html">Tethers</a> (<a href="#f4">4</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tyrants.html">Tyrants</a> (<a href="#f5">5</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/potential-malware.html">In the pipe</a></li>
   </ul>
</div>

<div class="malfunctions">
  </td>
  <td>
   <ul>
<li><strong>Type of malware</strong></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html">Back doors</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-appliances.html">Appliances</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-cars.html">Cars</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-coverups.html">Coverups</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-games.html">Games</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-deception.html">Deception</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Mobiles</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-insecurity.html">Insecurity</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-webpages.html">Webpages</a></li>
   </ul>
   <ul>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-sabotage.html">Sabotage</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-adobe.html">Adobe</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-interference.html">Interference</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-amazon.html">Amazon</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-surveillance.html">Surveillance</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html">Apple</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-subscriptions.html">Subscriptions</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-google.html">Google</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tethers.html">Tethers</a> href="/proprietary/malware-microsoft.html">Microsoft</a></li>
   </ul>
  </td>
 </tr>
 <tr>
  <td colspan="2">
   <ol>
    <li id="f1"><em>Back door:</em>  any feature of a program
     that enables someone who is not supposed to
servers</li>
<li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-drm.html">Digital be in control of the
     computer where it is installed to send it commands.</li>

    <li id="f2"><em>Digital restrictions
    management</a> management, or “DRM” means
     “DRM”:</em>  functionalities designed to restrict
     what users can do with the data in their computers.</li>
<li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-jails.html">Jails</a>—systems

    <li id="f3"><em>Jail:</em>  system that impose imposes censorship on
     application programs.</li>
<li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-tyrants.html">Tyrants</a>—systems

    <li id="f4"><em>Tether:</em>  functionality that reject requires
     permanent (or very frequent) connection to a server.</li>

    <li id="f5"><em>Tyrant:</em>  system that rejects any operating
     system not “authorized” by the manufacturer.</li>
</ul>
</div>
</div>
   </ol>
  </td>
 </tr>
</table>

<p>Users of proprietary software are defenseless against these forms
of mistreatment.  The way to avoid them is by insisting on
<a href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">free
(freedom-respecting) software.</a> software</a>.  Since free software is controlled
by its users, they have a pretty good defense against malicious
software functionality.</p>


<h3 id="latest">Latest additions</h3>

<ul class="blurbs">
  <li id="M201907080">
    <p>Many Android apps can track
    users' movements even when the user says <a
    href="https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/8/20686514/android-covert-channel-permissions-data-collection-imei-ssid-location">
    not to allow them access to locations</a>.</p>

    <p>This involves an apparently unintentional weakness in Android,
    exploited intentionally by malicious apps.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201809210">
    <p>Cash of Clans is a good example of a gratis mobile game that its
    developers <a href="https://gamerant.com/clash-of-clans-addiction/">
    made very addictive</a> for a large proportion of its users—and
    turned into a cash machine for themselves—by using <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html#addictiveness">
    psychological manipulation techniques</a>.</p>

    <p>The article uses “free” to mean “zero
    price,” which is a usage we should avoid. We recommend saying
    “gratis” instead.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M209800000">
    <p>The developers of gratis mobile games apply <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html#addictiveness">
    behavioral manipulation techniques</a> to <a
    href="https://www.psychguides.com/interact/the-psychology-of-freemium/">
    turn their products into slot machines</a>. This is clearly described
    in an infographic.</p>

    <p>The revenue generated by these games is directly related to the
    number of strongly addicted gamers (called “whales”) and
    to the amount of money they are willing to spend. Thus developers
    carefully study the behavior of millions of users to increase the
    addictiveness of their games.</p>

    <p>Unfortunately, the article uses “free” to mean
    “zero price.”  We recommend saying “gratis”
    instead.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201906220">
    <p>Google Chrome is an <a
    href="https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/06/21/google-chrome-has-become-surveillance-software-its-time-to-switch/">
    instrument of surveillance</a>. It lets thousands of trackers invade
    users' computers and report the sites they visit to advertising and
    data companies, first of all to Google. Moreover, if users have a
    Gmail account, Chrome automatically logs them in to the browser for
    more convenient profiling. On Android, Chrome also reports their
    location to Google.</p>

    <p>The best way to escape surveillance is to switch to <a
    href="/software/icecat/">IceCat</a>, a modified version of Firefox
    with several changes to protect users' privacy.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201905280">
    <p>In spite of Apple's supposed commitment to
    privacy, iPhone apps contain trackers that are busy at night <a
    href="https://freediggz.com/2019/05/28/perspective-its-the-middle-of-the-night-do-you-know-who-your-iphone-is-talking-to/">
    sending users' personal information to third parties</a>.</p>

    <p>The article mentions specific examples: Microsoft OneDrive,
    Intuit’s Mint, Nike, Spotify, The Washington Post, The Weather
    Channel (owned by IBM), the crime-alert service Citizen, Yelp
    and DoorDash. But it is likely that most nonfree apps contain
    trackers. Some of these send personally identifying data such as phone
    fingerprint, exact location, email address, phone number or even
    delivery address (in the case of DoorDash). Once this information
    is collected by the company, there is no telling what it will be
    used for.</p>
  </li>
</ul>


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