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Proprietary malware → Censorship

Proprietary Censorship


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.

This typically takes the form of malicious functionalities.


One kind of malicious functionality is censorship of what users can access. Here are examples of programs which do this. We have a separate list of proprietary systems that censor installation of application programs (we call them “jails”).

Selling products designed as platforms for a company to impose censorship ought to be forbidden by law, but it isn't.

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

Apple

Apple mainly uses iOS, which is a typical jail, to impose censorship through the Apple Store. Please refer to Proprietary Jails for more information.

Google

  • Google offers censorship software, ostensibly for parents to put into their children's computers.

  • On Windows and MacOS, Chrome disables extensions that are not hosted in the Chrome Web Store.

    For example, an extension was banned from the Chrome Web Store, and permanently disabled on more than 40,000 computers.

  • Google censored installation of Samsung's ad-blocker on Android phones, saying that blocking ads is “interference” with the sites that advertise (and surveil users through ads).

    The ad-blocker is proprietary software, just like the program (Google Play) that Google used to deny access to install it. Using a nonfree program gives the owner power over you, and Google has exercised that power.

    Google's censorship, unlike that of Apple, is not total: Android allows users to install apps in other ways. You can install free programs from f-droid.org.

Game consoles

  • The Nintendo 3DS censors web browsing; it is possible to turn off the censorship, but that requires identifying oneself to pay, which is a form of surveillance.

TOP

 [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.”

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