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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>

<div id="about-section">
<p>Proprietary software, also called nonfree software,
means software that doesn't
<a href="/philosophy/free-sw.html">respect users' freedom and
community</a>.  This means that
<a href="/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html">  A proprietary program puts its developer or owner has
<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, so corrupts; the proprietary program's developer is tempted to
design the program to mistreat its users—that is, to make
it <em>malware</em>.  (Malware means software users.  (Software whose functioning
mistreats the user.) user is called <em>malware</em>.)  Of course, the
developer usually does not do this out of malice, but rather to put the users profit
more at a disadvantage. 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 software for
suckers!</p>

<div class="toc">
<div class="companies">
<ul>
  <li><strong>Company or type typically
a way to be had.</p>
<hr class="thin" />
</div>

<p>As of product</strong></li> January, 2020, the pages in this directory list around 450
instances of malicious functionalities (with more than 500 references to
back them up), but there are surely thousands more we don't know about.</p>

<table id="TOC">
 <tr>
  <th>Injustices or techniques</th>
  <th>Products or companies</th>
 </tr>
 <tr>
  <td>
   <ul class="columns">
    <li><a href="/philosophy/malware-apple.html">Apple Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html">Addictions</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/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="/philosophy/malware-mobiles.html">Malware in mobile devices</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/malware-kindle-swindle.html">Malware in href="/proprietary/proprietary-coverups.html">Coverups</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-deception.html">Deception</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-drm.html">DRM</a> (<a href="#f2">2</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-fraud.html">Fraud</a></li>
    <li><a 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-obsolescence.html">Obsolescence</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 Amazon
  Swindle</a></li> pipe</a></li>
   </ul>
</div>

<div class="malfunctions">
  </td>
  <td>
   <ul>
<li><strong>Type of malware</strong></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-back-doors.html">Back doors</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-appliances.html">Appliances</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-cars.html">Cars</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-games.html">Games</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Mobiles</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-webpages.html">Webpages</a></li>
   </ul>
   <ul>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-insecurity.html">Insecurity</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-adobe.html">Adobe</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-sabotage.html">Sabotage</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-amazon.html">Amazon</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-interference.html">Interference</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html">Apple</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-surveillance.html">Surveillance</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-google.html">Google</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-drm.html">Digital 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 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="/philosophy/proprietary-jails.html">Jails</a>—systems

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

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

    <li id="f5"><em>Tyrant:</em>  system that reject 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="M202005250">
    <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="M202004300">
    <p>Xiaomi phones <a
    href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/04/30/exclusive-warning-over-chinese-mobile-giant-xiaomi-recording-millions-of-peoples-private-web-and-phone-use/">report
    many actions the user takes</a>: starting an app, looking at a folder,
    visiting a website, listening to a song.  They send device identifying
    information too.</p>

    <p>Other nonfree programs snoop too. For instance, Spotify and
    other streaming dis-services make a dossier about each user, and <a
    href="/malware/proprietary-surveillance.html#M201508210"> they make
    users identify themselves to pay</a>.  Out, out, damned Spotify!</p>

    <p>Forbes exonerates the same wrongs when the culprits are not Chinese,
    but we condemn this no matter who does it.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202004130">
    <p>The <a href="https://www.google.com/mobile/android/market-tos.html">
    Google Play Terms of Service</a> insist that the user of Android accept
    the presence of universal back doors in apps released by Google.</p>

    <p>This does not tell us whether any of Google's apps currently
    contains a universal back door, but that is a secondary question.
    In moral terms, demanding that people accept in advance certain bad
    treatment is equivalent to actually doing it.  Whatever condemnation
    the latter deserves, the former deserves the same.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201703070">
    <p>The CIA exploited existing vulnerabilities
    in “smart” TVs and phones to design a malware that <a
    href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/wikileaks-vault-7-android-iphone-cia-phones-handsets-tv-smart-julian-assange-a7616651.html">
    spies through their microphones and cameras while making them appear
    to be turned off</a>. Since the spyware sniffs signals, it bypasses
    encryption.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202003010">
    <p>The Alipay Health Code app
    estimates whether the user has Covid-19 and <a
    href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/business/china-coronavirus-surveillance.html">
    tells the cops directly</a>.</p>
  </li>
</ul>

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