Proprietary software, nonfree software, means software that doesn't respect users' freedom and community. The developer or owner has power over its users. Proprietary software is itself an injustice, although most users don't recognize it as such. The point of this page is that the one injustice often leads to further injustice.
Power corrupts, so the proprietary program's developer is tempted to design the program to mistreat its users — that is, to make it malware. (Malware means software whose functioning mistreats the user.) Of course, the developer usually does not do this out of malice, but rather to put the users at a disadvantage. That does not make it any less nasty or more legitimate.
Yielding to that temptation has become ever more frequent; nowadays it is standard practice. Modern proprietary software is software for suckers!
Here are examples of widely used proprietary programs that are known to be malware. They are organized by the type of malicious functionality.
- Proprietary back doors
- Proprietary insecurity
- Proprietary sabotage
- Proprietary surveillance
- Proprietary Jails—systems that impose censorship on application programs.
- Proprietary Tyrants—systems that reject any operating system not “authorized” by the manufacturer.
- Digital Restrictions Management
The way to avoid these forms of abuse is by insisting on free (freedom-respecting) software. Since free software is controlled by its users, they have a pretty good defense against malicious software functionality. Users of proprietary software are defenseless.