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

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<p class="button"><a href="#TOC">Table of contents</a></p>
<p class="button"><a href="#latest">Latest additions</a></p>
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<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>

<p>As of product</strong></li> October, 2018, the pages in this directory list around 350
instances of malicious functionalities (with more than 400 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>
    <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-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-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="/philosophy/proprietary-insecurity.html">Insecurity</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Mobiles</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-sabotage.html">Sabotage</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-webpages.html">Webpages</a></li>
   </ul>
   <ul>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-adobe.html">Adobe</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-interference.html">Interference</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-amazon.html">Amazon</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-surveillance.html">Surveillance</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html">Apple</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-drm.html">Digital href="/proprietary/malware-google.html">Google</a></li>
    <li><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 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 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="M201902060">
    <p>Many nonfree apps have a surveillance feature for <a
    href="https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/06/iphone-session-replay-screenshots/">
    recording all the users' actions</a> in interacting with the app.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201902010">
    <p>An investigation of the 150 most popular
    gratis VPN apps in Google Play found that <a
    href="https://www.top10vpn.com/free-vpn-android-app-risk-index/">
    25% fail to protect their users’ privacy</a> due to DNS leaks. In
    addition, 85% feature intrusive permissions or functions in their
    source code—often used for invasive advertising—that could
    potentially also be used to spy on users. Other technical flaws were
    found as well.</p>

    <p>Moreover, a previous investigation had found that <a
    href="https://www.top10vpn.com/free-vpn-app-investigation/">half of
    the top 10 gratis VPN apps have lousy privacy policies</a>.</p>

    <p>It is unfortunate that these articles talk about “free
    apps.” These apps are gratis, but they are <em>not</em> <a
    href="/philosophy/free-sw.html">free software</a>.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201902040">
    <p>Google invites people to <a
    href="https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/04/google-screenwise-unwise-trade-all-your-privacy-cash?cd-origin=rss">
    let Google monitor their phone use, and all internet use in their
    homes, for an extravagant payment of $20</a>.</p>

    <p>This is not a malicious functionality of a program with some other
    purpose; this is the software's sole purpose, and Google says so. But
    Google says it in a way that encourages most people to ignore the
    details. That, we believe, makes it fitting to list here.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201901230">
    <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="M201812290">
    <p>Around 40% of gratis Android apps <a
    href="https://privacyinternational.org/report/2647/how-apps-android-share-data-facebook-report">
    report on the user's actions to Facebook</a>.</p>

    <p>Often they send the machine's “advertising ID,” so that
    Facebook can correlate the data it obtains from the same machine via
    various apps. Some of them send Facebook detailed information about
    the user's activities in the app; others only say that the user is
    using that app, but that alone is often quite informative.</p>

    <p>This spying occurs regardless of whether the user has a Facebook
    account.</p>
  </li>
</ul>


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