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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>.  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 October, 2019, the pages in this directory list around 400
instances of product</strong></li> 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>
    <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="/proprietary/malware-games.html">Games</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li> href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Mobiles</a></li>
    <li><a href="/philosophy/proprietary-insecurity.html">Insecurity</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-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 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="M201910131">
    <p>Safari occasionally <a
    href="https://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2019/10/13/dear-apple-safe-browsing-might-not-be-that-safe/">
    sends browsing data from Apple devices in China to the Tencent Safe
    Browsing service</a>, to check URLs that possibly correspond to
    “fraudulent” websites. Since Tencent collaborates
    with the Chinese government, its Safe Browsing black list most certainly
    contains the websites of political opponents. By linking the requests
    originating from single IP addresses, the government can identify
    dissenters in China and Hong Kong, thus endangering their lives.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201904080">
    <p>Apple plans to require that <a
    href="https://www.macrumors.com/2019/04/08/mac-apps-notarization-macos-10-14-5/">
    all application software for MacOS be approved by Apple first</a>.</p>

    <p>Offering a checking service as an option could be
    useful and would not be wrong.  Requiring users to get
    Apple's approval is tyranny. Apple says the check will
    only look for malware (not counting the malware that is <a
    href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html#TOC">part of
    the operating system</a>), but Apple could change that policy step
    by step.  Or perhaps Apple will define malware to include any app
    that China does not like.</p>

    <p>For free software, this means users will need to get Apple's
    approval after compilation.  This amounts to a system of surveilling
    the use of free programs.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201910130">
    <p>The Chinese Communist Party's “Study
    the Great Nation” app requires users to grant it <a
    href="https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/chinese-app-allows-officials-access-to-100-million-users-phone-report-2115962">
    access to the phone's microphone, photos, text messages, contacts, and
    internet history</a>, and the Android version was found to contain a
    back-door allowing developers to run any code they wish in the users'
    phone, as “superusers.” Downloading and using this
    app is mandatory at some workplaces.</p>

    <p>Note: The <a
    href="http://web-old.archive.org/web/20191015005153/https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/chinese-app-on-xis-ideology-allows-data-access-to-100-million-users-phones-report-says/2019/10/11/2d53bbae-eb4d-11e9-bafb-da248f8d5734_story.html">
    Washington Post version of the article</a> (partly obfuscated, but
    readable after copy-pasting in a text editor) includes a clarification
    saying that the tests were only performed on the Android version
    of the app, and that, according to Apple, “this kind of
    ‘superuser’ surveillance could not be conducted on
    Apple's operating system.”</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201910070">
    <p>Apple <a
    href="https://boingboing.net/2019/10/07/apple-ios-13-1-2-for-hong-kong.html">
    censors the Taiwan flag in iOS</a> on behalf of the Chinese
    government. When the region is set to Hong Kong, this flag is not
    visible in the emoji selection widget but is still accessible. When the
    region is set to mainland China, all attempts to display it will result
    in the “empty emoji” icon as if the flag never existed.</p>

    <p>Thus, not only does Apple use the App Store as an instrument
    of censorship, it also uses the iThing operating system for that
    purpose.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201910100">
    <p>Apple has <a
    href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/10/hong-kong-protests-apple-pulls-tracking-app-after-china-criticism">
    banned the app that Hong Kong protesters use to communicate</a>.</p>

    <p>Obeying the “local laws” about what people can do with
    software is no excuse for censoring what software people can use.</p>
  </li>
</ul>


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