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    I enjoyed this, well done!

    I’m just speaking for myself (but I know many of my colleagues agree) when I say that I don’t feel great about the source of our revenue. That being said, developing a rendering engine is very expensive (apparently even too expensive for Microsoft) and I’m not sure what the alternative is. Ironically, every time we do try to diversify (pocket, directory tiles, snippets etc), there is an even bigger backlash than the one about Google.

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      That being said, developing a rendering engine is very expensive (apparently even too expensive for Microsoft)…

      It can be hard to keep up when the top Web sites (owned by a special someone) will go out of their way to shake things up or break things for the competition.

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        In the footnote about Mozilla it says,

        Mozilla is now trying to diversify its revenue stream and, in some markets, has different default search engines. For example, it partners with privacy-championing Chinese search engine Baidu in China.

        Baidu has a history of censorship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baidu#Censorship

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        Aral opened my eyes on surveillance capitalism. His message about privacy is refreshing in that it’s free from conspiracy. I think he’s a great speaker and really gets the importance of privacy to a much broader audience.

        I’d like to point to this link for anyone interested. It’s a speech of him on General Assembly in Berlin, an event about “democratic structures on a global level”. In his speech he stands-up against the presence of a member of the ruling party of Turkey (AKP). “a party and a president that used the democratic process to get into power only to then systemically destroy the very democratic instruments they used to get there”. You really have to have a strong backbone to do what he is doing there, especially when you have Turkish origins like he does:

        https://2018.ar.al/notes/my-speech-at-general-assembly-in-berlin-november-2017/ (both video and transcript)

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          This could have been a great rant. What spoils its appeal for me is

          • (a) what looks like a misrepresentation of some parts of reality to make it fit the narrative
          • (b) a healthy dose of hypocrisy?

          For (a), the link for “Google bans copyleft licenses” does not support the claim. Google (officially) bans the use of AGPL, not of copyleft licenses in general. In fact, parts of Google contribute to projects under the GPL which, to my eyes, qualifies them as a stakeholder for a copyleft conference.

          Now, it would be great if the conference did not use sponsors and instead relied on registration fees to pay for a venue in Brussels. If the author doesn’t have any problem with that though (and it seems they don’t), what, exactly, is their issue with the SFC accepting sponsorship from a company like google? I mean, on the one hand, engagement with companies that are either copyleft-hostile or routinely violate copyleft requirements is a large part of what the SFC needs to do to prevent such violations. And, on the other hand, one could easily make an argument against the ideological purity of /any/ company wrt surveillance capitalism[1].

          The author doesn’t make those points though; they busy themselves with naive concerns like “the FSF doesn’t have a problem with their logo appearing next to Google’s and Microsoft’s”.

          Which brings me to (b):

          To support my work, you can buy Better Blocker on iOS and Better Blocker on macOS or become a patron.

          I mean, this concern about appearences is coming from someone who promotes software for iOS and macOS? Exclusively, even?

          It is a shame, because the article does bring up and bundle together a bunch of problematic situations. It’s just that the author is not at all interested in actually engaging with the issues, which have significant differences (and only superficial similarities).

          [1] Given current technological possibilities, what kind of capitalism would not necessarily result in “surveillance capitalism”?

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              @timkuijsten, please refrain from proxying abuse. If you think my arguments are unconvincing, you can explain why without telling me to fuck off. The holier than thou attitude of both the original post and the comment you linked to is just icing on the cake.

              I’m gonna try and pretend you were making these points instead:

              1. “The fact that the author falsely claimed that Google bans copyleft, whereas it only bans the AGPL is a distinction without a difference.”

              First, let us take a second to appreciate the fact that the original author misrepresented reality in a way that is favorable to their point.

              Second, it does make a difference. Companies that have vested interests in copyleft software projects are the only ones that are going to sponsor a copyleft conference. Google participates in a number of copyleft projects, hence the distinction between “Google bans copyleft” and “Google bans the AGPL” is important.

              1. “Google only cares about the AGPL because it’s what would force them to release their core technology as free software”

              This seems like a confused point.

              First, Google “cares” in a similar way about the GPL, which is why they don’t want to have GPL code in the userspace of Android. Also see

              1. for how Google also cares in different ways for the GPL in other projects.

              Second, Google cannot be forced to release their core technology as free software. If they wanted to do that, that would be a conscious choice on their part. The existence of useful code under the AGPL would only incentivize (for sufficiently small epsilon…) this kind of release.

              Yet this seems completely unrelated to the author’s complaint re: surveilance capitalism.

              • the ways that Google collects user data are well documented, access to their source wouldn’t really add much
              • the source of their software infrastructure is only really useful to entities that have huge amounts of capital and would be deploying the whole synergistic infrastructure. How would that be an improvement over Google?
              1. “There is no hypocrisy because the author is not taking money from Apple, they are simply promoting Apple’s ecosystem” or “Apple is not part of surveillance capitalism”

              I’ll let that stand on its own…

              The tragedy here is that there are legitimate points to be made re: the NPOs and their ultimate utility in a capitalist system, but I’ll have to refrain from making them as (a) the author of that post also runs one, and I wouldn’t want to detract from the main point (made in my previous post above) and (b) I would rather make the point on my own terms elsewhere (hint: I find that the concept of ideological purity poisons every discussion it’s brought in).

              Also, (c) responding to arguments transparently made in bad faith is tiring and (d) participating in a discussion where you’re likely to be confronted with gratuitous abuse is not a pleasant one.

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                @timkuijsten, please refrain from proxying abuse. If you think my arguments are unconvincing, you can explain why without telling me to fuck off.

                FWIW, I read the Mastodon comment I linked to as being aimed at the surveillance capitalists, not to you or anyone else. I’m sorry if I made you think different or if I misinterpreted the linked comment.

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                  I appreciate your input. And AFAIC I think both you and Aral have good points.

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                    Just to avoid sounding cryptic: when the set of facts you bring to the table is that every NPO (or pretend NPOs like mozilla) that comes to mind that could have anything to say about surveillance capitalism is coy about it, what do you make of that?

                    (a) most NPOs eventually degenerate to feel-good money grabbing operations, as attested to by the number of NPO employees who routinely switch organizations (“I did a stint at $green_npo, now I’m at $digital_foo_npo”). This may or may not have something to do with NPOs having to spend most of their time fundraising (and most of their resources on campaigns), or they won’t be around next year. I.e. 1. “professional activism” necessarily bastardizes the “activism” part and 2. the professionalization of activism is sort of unavoidable when there’s a multitude of NPOs competing for funds.

                    Similarly, delegatory activism (i.e. “support the activists” as opposed to “be an activist”) is a contradiction in terms. And delegatory activism is 1. the reproduction of capitalist structures in activist circles 2. the only form of activism that people working endless hours to hold on to their middle class accomplishments or aspirations can see themselves practice.

                    Note that this has little to do with the personal qualities of the people running the NPOs. Some are no doubt consciously aiming for a reasonably lucrative exit through that revolving door. Others may have come in knowing about this whole arrangement but still toil away in what they think is the most efficient way to further their cause. For the purposes of examining the efficacy of NPOs as a means of achieving political change, none of this is pertinent[1].

                    (b) this is an ethical failing of the people running those NPOs and they should just “take a fucking stand”

                    This is the conclusion of the original article. Hopefully you see why I think that attributing systemic issues to individual failings is recklessly naive. IMHO, it’s commonly deliberate naivete; lots of political narratives try to frame larger issues (here: the fundamentally limited utility of NPOs in a capitalist system) as ethical failings of individuals. Being stuck lamenting the ethical failings of others (if only they were as virtuous as yourself!) or trying to appeal to individual responsibilty without ever considering the system in which political action takes place is a great recipe for being stuck in an unbounded depressive loop. So you can see why political narratives that want to maintain the status quo would adopt this kind of framing.

                    [1] Except in as much as the nature of NPOs in capitalism might attract more of the former than the latter, but that is contestable.

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                      Similarly, delegatory activism (i.e. “support the activists” as opposed to “be an activist”) is a contradiction in terms. And delegatory activism is 1. the reproduction of capitalist structures in activist circles 2. the only form of activism that people working endless hours to hold on to their middle class accomplishments or aspirations can see themselves practice.

                      I agree on your definition of delegatory activism in 1 and 2, but IMHO it doesn’t make “delegatory activism” a “contradiction in terms”.

                      Furthermore, the original article is about surveillance capitalism, not capitalism in general. My take on surveillance capitalism is that it is an economic system in which the behaviour of people is traded for profit by private companies. It has the inevitable consequence that authorities start to make use of the possibilities the created infrastructure to support such an economy provides.

                      this is an ethical failing of the people running those NPOs and they should just “take a fucking stand”

                      This is the conclusion of the original article.

                      I think the conclusion is not about personal failings but failings of the NPO as a whole. That said, I find your reasoning about why “attributing systemic issues to individual failings is recklessly naive” and “why political narratives that want to maintain the status quo would adopt this kind of framing” enlightning. Thanks.

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                        I agree on your definition of delegatory activism in 1 and 2, but IMHO it doesn’t make “delegatory activism” a “contradiction in terms”.

                        Fair enough. How about “a financial transaction in place of actual participation necessarily alienates a person from their political concerns, doubly so from political action”? Finding a sense of identity in what you pay for is one definition of consumerism.

                        Participation builds communities; communities are necessary for strong political action and for individual motivation. Donating, however, is a solitary activity.

                        The fact that part of your donation goes to pay for training activists into becoming lobbyists and another significant part into marketing (i.e. campaigns for donations), as opposed to engagement with the rest of society, is another contradiction.

                        But, one might say, an organization that demands participation, promotes collaboration and deters proffesionalization is decidedly not an NPO, it is a political organization. To which I would respond: precisely. Everything is political, but an NPO is a poor vehicle for effecting political change (in fact, its form promotes alienation from political action).

                        This is why, IMO, “delegatory activism” is inherently paradoxical.

                        Furthermore, the original article is about surveillance capitalism, not capitalism in general.

                        The article was about how some visible NPOs (and not-actually-NPOs and free software projects; again: it’s conflating dissimilar things) are being largely silent on or accepting of the development and ramifications of surveillance capitalism. The issue the NPOs are skittish about is surveilance capitalism. The reason they’re being skittish is (see previous comment for the argumentation) that they are NPOs operating in a capitalist system.

                        I think the conclusion is not about personal failings but failings of the NPO as a whole.

                        Well, AFAICT, either you attribute common failings of the NPOs to some systemic factor (like I tried to do in my previous reply) or you’re stuck arguing that a number of wildly dissimilar NPOs all happen to have moral failings in the exact same way. The article definitely doesn’t do the former, instead it just calls on them to, again, “take a fucking stand”. Who is the call to if not to the people running the NPOs (who, apparently, “just” have to see the error of their ways)?

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                          Everything is political, but an NPO is a poor vehicle for effecting political change (in fact, its form promotes alienation from political action).

                          I should point out that some of those NPOs have been consistently trying to effect political change (instead of simply paying lip-service to their purported goals). They should not all be painted with the same brush.

                          As you can imagine, my opinion is that they’ve managed to do so despite having to operate as an NPO, not because of it.

                          Similarly, I’m sure the people who have worked the hardest and longest in an NPO and have managed to make some difference would make an argument to the contrary. I do not intend to discount their point of view, even as I remain very much unconvinced by it.

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              I’m inclined to agree that there are systemic harms introduced by surveillance capitalism, but reading through two of Aral’s articles I only got a sense of the conflict of interest these companies represent. Could you point me in the direction of any foundational articles that discuss the specific systemic damage?

              (Admittedly, I haven’t watched the video that you linked. If that is a good place to start, feel free to tell me to watch the damn video.)

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                When it comes to foundational articles of systemic damage of surveillance capitalism I think of this report done by PEN in 2015 about the global chilling effect of mass surveillance, driving writers to self-censor:

                a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide, demonstrates the damaging impact of surveillance by the United States and other governments on free expression and creative freedom around the world

                https://pen.org/press-release/new-pen-report-demonstrates-global-chilling-effect-of-mass-surveillance/

                The report itself can be found here: https://pen.org/sites/default/files/globalchilling_2015.pdf (disclaimer: I have not taken the time to read this report myself, if you do, I’m curious what you think about it)

                Another video of Aral (without transcript) goes into the relation between systemic inequality and surveillance capitalism: Excuse Me, Your Unicorn Keeps Shitting In My Back Yard, Can He Please Not?

                Find out why Surveillance Capitalism isn’t compatible with human rights, democracy, or a future with humans in it. Duration: 33 mins. Recorded: 7th August, 2016.

                The video I linked in my previous post is not about surveillance capitalism, but about the teardown of democracy in Turkey by the AKP. I only linked to it because it’s some other work done by the same author of the OP that I find very impressive.

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              When I added support for FastMail to Geary, my changes were rejected.

              The whole discussion thread on their merge request was painful to read:

              https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/geary/merge_requests/26#note_281362

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                To support my work, you can buy Better Blocker on iOS and Better Blocker on macOS or become a patron.

                What is the difference between him selling a product on a closed market place like App Store and all these companies and organizations being sponsored by the very same companies they criticize/fight?

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                  A bit tongue-in-cheek.

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                    Pretty sure it was meant to be. I really liked its application here, too.

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                      maybe the “rant” or “satire” tags would be appropriate

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                        I thought about it, but since he twists everything in the last paragraph, I thought it wasn’t either a proper rant nor a proper satirical piece, so I left it as it was.

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                      I think in large, it’s good that Google promotes itself through privacy-conscious companies. We don’t need Google to stop existing, we need them to be held accountable when they do bad things, and we need competitive alternatives. So them prioritizing these companies is good. Maybe it’s only lip service? Certainly it seems unlikely that Google will change. And of course Balkan is attacking the companies “accepting the support”/promoting Google. He’s even suggesting these companies prioritize Google, in exchange. Well, I think Google’s services are fairly ubiquitous, even among the privacy-focused.

                      Admittedly, I’ve only read Balkan’s blog, not seen him speak, but his line seems to be mean-spirited.

                      (In my experience, there are good alternatives, it’s just that few care.)

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                        I really disagree with having a ‘satire’ tag. It just seems wrong, it’s like tagging ‘sarcasm’ with a ‘/s’ in your post, it defeats the whole purpose of satire.

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                          I didn’t add it, but I do get it. Some people aren’t interested in satirical articles, and filter them instead (just like I filter games, finance, ios, cryptocurrencies, …). But other than that, I don’t think it totally defeats it’s intention either.

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                            You are absolutely right. /s