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Privacy Requires Freedom - 2016/11/02
It is very simple, in order to have privacy there needs to be free software. You may notice that almost all privacy software is free software (e.g. Tor, BitMessage, Tox, Enigmail, etc.), and there is a very simple reason for this: if the software is not free software it is much more likely to be compromised. Essentially there are three aspects to free software that are essential for privacy, and if a software is not free then it is either compromised or can easily be compromised.

The first aspect of free software which is required for privacy has to do with freedom 0, the freedom to use the program as you please for any purpose. This is important because you are not limited as to what you can use it for, something essential for privacy, especially if what you're doing may be considered illegal in your country (say you live in a repressive regime that would severely punish anyone who criticizes it). So you must be able to use the software for whatever purpose in order not to be limited (as well as if you are limited in your use of the software then it is more likely that any activity using the software will be reported).

Then there is freedom 1, the freedom to view, analyze, and modify the source-code of a program. This is something absolutely necessary, since this is what allows the user to know whether the software they are using is compromised or not. They must be able to read the source-code (compile it from source to make sure they are running what they are reading) and modify it in the case that there is some malicious software or a security leak in the software that would compromise the user's security and privacy (*cough* Ubuntu Unity Shell *cough* Ubuntu adware *cough*). Let's say you're running a piece of proprietary software (like Windows or Mac), you have no clue whether or not that software is spying on your or does something to compromise your security or privacy (unless someone like Snowden comes around and shows us things like PRISM and XKeyscore), therefore it is necessary to be able to read and analyze the source-code. However, you must also be able to modify it in the case that the software does indeed compromise your security and/or privacy (look at the FSF link above on Ubuntu's spyware). Therefore freedom 1 is one of the most essential for privacy.

Thirdly, freedoms 2 and 3 are also very important, since they are what allow you to be secure with other people and services (what good would encryption be if the person you're trying to send the message to can't decrypt it). Therefore you need the freedoms to distribute the software as well as all modified version you may make of said software. Say there were a leak in the encryption of the GNU Privacy Guard encryption tool (i.e. GnuPG or GPG for short), you must have the freedom to fix this leak and distribute that fix to all your friends so that you may all be secure together, otherwise with one link in the chain running a buggy version of the software the privacy of the entire group is compromised.

Therefore all the freedoms of free software are necessary in order to be private and secure, and to make sure your communications and general computer usage are not being spied on by any third parties.


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