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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>.  A proprietary program puts its developer or owner
<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; the proprietary program's developer is tempted to
design the program to mistreat its users.  (Software whose functioning
mistreats the user is called <em>malware</em>.)  Of course, the
developer usually does not do this out of malice, but rather to profit
more at 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 typically
a way to be had.</p>
<hr class="thin" />
</div>

<p>As of January, 2017, 2020, the files pages in this directory list around 260 450
instances of malicious functionalities, functionalities (with more than 500 references to
back them up), but there are surely thousands more we don't know about.</p>

<div class="toc">
<div class="companies">
<ul>
  <li><strong>Company

<table id="TOC">
 <tr>
  <th>Injustices or type of product</strong></li> techniques</th>
  <th>Products or companies</th>
 </tr>
 <tr>
  <td>
   <ul class="columns">
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html">Addictions</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/proprietary-back-doors.html">Back doors</a> (<a href="#f1">1</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-apple.html">Apple Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-censorship.html">Censorship</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-microsoft.html">Microsoft Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-coverups.html">Coverups</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-adobe.html">Adobe Malware</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-deception.html">Deception</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-mobiles.html">Malware in mobile devices</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-drm.html">DRM</a> (<a href="#f2">2</a>)</li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-kindle-swindle.html">Malware in the Amazon
      Swindle</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-fraud.html">Fraud</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-games.html">Malware in games</a></li> href="/proprietary/proprietary-incompatibility.html">Incompatibility</a></li>
    <li><a href="/proprietary/malware-appliances.html">Malware in appliances</a></li> 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 pipe</a></li>
   </ul>
</div>

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

    <li id="f3"><em>Jail:</em>  system that impose imposes censorship on
     application programs.</li>
<li><a href="/proprietary/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="M201504210">
    <p>Runescape is a popular online game with some <a
    href="https://www.reddit.com/r/runescape/comments/33cd8g/question_why_is_runescape_so_addicting/">
    addictive features</a> derived from <a
    href="/proprietary/proprietary-addictions.html#addictiveness">
    behavioral manipulation techniques</a>. Certain
    repetitive aspects of the game, like <a
    href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grinding_(video_games)">
    grinding</a>, can be minimised by becoming a paying member, and can
    thus encourage children and impressionable people to spend money on
    the game.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202006260">
    <p>Most apps are malware, but
    Trump's campaign app, like Modi's campaign app, is <a
    href="https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/06/21/1004228/trumps-data-hungry-invasive-app-is-a-voter-surveillance-tool-of-extraordinary-scope/
    ">especially nasty malware, helping companies snoop on users as well
    as snooping on them itself</a>.</p>

    <p>The article says that Biden's app has a less manipulative overall
    approach, but that does not tell us whether it has functionalities we
    consider malicious, such as sending data the user has not explicitly
    asked to send.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202006250">
    <p>TV manufacturers are able to <a
    href="https://www.zdnet.com/article/fbi-warns-about-snoopy-smart-tvs-spying-on-you/">snoop
    every second of what the user is watching</a>. This is illegal due to
    the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988, but they're circumventing
    it through EULAs.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M202006160">
    <p><a
    href="https://www.wired.com/story/ripple20-iot-vulnerabilities/?bxid=5bd66d4c2ddf9c619437e4b8&cndid=9608804&esrc=Wired_etl_load&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_DAILY_ZZ&utm_bran%5C">
    A disasterous security bug</a> touches millions of products in the
    Internet of Stings.</p>

    <p>As a result, anyone can sting the user, not only the
    manufacturer.</p>
  </li>

  <li id="M201909061">
    <p>Best Buy made controllable appliances and <a
    href="https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/6/20853671/best-buy-connect-insignia-smart-plug-wifi-freezer-mobile-app-shutdown-november-6">
    shut down the service to control them through</a>.</p>

    <p>While it is laudable that Best Buy recognized it was mistreating
    the customers by doing so, this doesn't alter the facts that
    tethering the device to a particular server is a path to screwing the
    users, and that it is a consequence of having nonfree software in the
    device.</p>
  </li>
</ul>

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