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Proprietary Surveillance

Other examples of proprietary malware

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; that is the basic injustice. The developers and manufacturers often exercise that power to the detriment of the users they ought to serve.

One common form of mistreatment is to snoop on the user. This page records clearly established cases of proprietary software that spies on or tracks users. Manufacturers even refuse to say whether they snoop on users for the state.

All appliances and applications that are tethered to a specific server are snoopers by nature. We do not list them in this page because they have their own page: Proprietary Tethers.

If you know of an example that ought to be in this page but isn't here, please write to <webmasters@gnu.org> to inform us. Please include the URL of a trustworthy reference or two to serve as specific substantiation.


For decades, the Free Software movement has been denouncing the abusive surveillance machine of proprietary software companies such as Microsoft and Apple. In the recent years, this tendency to watch people has spread across industries, not only in the software business, but also in the hardware. Moreover, it also spread dramatically away from the keyboard, in the mobile computing industry, in the office, at home, in transportation systems, and in the classroom.

Aggregate or anonymized data

Many companies, in their privacy policy, have a clause that claims they share aggregate, non-personally identifiable information with third parties/partners. Such claims are worthless, for several reasons:

Therefore, we must not be distracted by companies' statements of what they will do with the data they collect. The wrong is that they collect it at all.

Latest additions

Entries in each category are in reverse chronological order, based on the dates of publication of linked articles. The latest additions are listed on the main page of the Malware section.

Spyware in Laptops and Desktops




Microsoft's snooping on users did not start with Windows 10. There's a lot more Microsoft malware.



There's a lot more iThing spyware, and Apple malware.

Spyware on Mobiles


All “Smart” Phones




Android Telephones


Spyware in Applications


Desktop Apps


Mobile Apps






Spyware in Connected Equipment


TV Sets


Emo Phillips made a joke: The other day a woman came up to me and said, “Didn't I see you on television?” I said, “I don't know. You can't see out the other way.” Evidently that was before Amazon “smart” TVs.





Other Appliances



“Smart” Watches



Virtual Reality


Spyware on the Web


In addition, many web sites spy on their visitors. Web sites are not programs, so it makes no sense to call them “free” or “proprietary”, but the surveillance is an abuse all the same.







Spyware in Networks


 [FSF logo] “The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a nonprofit with a worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom. We defend the rights of all software users.”