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You are here: Home FSF Appeals 2010 Technological power should be held by all users of a technology.

Technological power should be held by all users of a technology.

by Benjamin Mako Hill Contributions Published on Jan 23, 2011 08:58 PM
As our lives become increasingly mediated by technology, the question of who controls technology becomes another way of asking "Who controls us?"

As computers play an increasingly important role in the way we communicate, the people who control the software that runs on computers play an increasingly important role in determining what we can say, how we can say it, who we can say it to, and when we can say it:

  • Control over technology is power.
  • Free software is an attempt to say that this power should be wielded democratically.
  • Technological power should be held by all users of a technology.
  • Software freedom and user freedom are intimately connected.

Suffice it to say that most users do not think about their software this way. Many pay for software that is intentionally locked down so that they can not change it, share it, or see how it works. Many use software that spies on them, that wields antifeatures against them to extort money from them, and that is designed and licensed in order to keep communities of users divided and helpless.

Users only put up with software like this, in large part, because they don't think of software in terms of freedom.

Making a change

For those of us that understand that user control over technology can be important, it falls on us to help fight for all users' freedom. Work in the next decade will determine if we live in a world that is full of DRM, locked down mobile phones, and opaque and manipulative network services or, alternatively, in a world in which users can choose to live in freedom with control over their software and over their own lives.

The Free Software Foundation continues to play a central and critical role in this struggle. Support of the FSF is an important way that you can take action today. More than any other organization, the FSF creates, supports, and protects the licenses, laws, communities, and software that is necessary to ensure the existence of technology under its users' control. The FSF is nearly alone in its direct outreach to to raise awareness of DRM, software patents, and issues of software freedom and technology control. It has a strong record as a steward of software freedom and an advocate for the ideals of technological control by users.

As someone who understands why software freedom is important, your support forms the bulk of resources that allow the FSF to reach out to others and to help support the possibility of a brighter technology future. As someone who understands why control over software is power, your support is critically important to ensuring that the FSF can continue its work. I know that this is not the first fundraising appeal you've read this season and I know that the weakened economy makes giving difficult for many. I understand that the cost of a membership or donation may be less easy to afford this year. But we also cannot afford a weakened FSF at this important point in time.

Help this work to continue

If you are not an FSF associate member, now is the time to become one. If you've read my appeal the last two years and decided to wait, now is the time to take the plunge. Membership is $120 per year ($60 for students) and payable monthly. If you are already a member, please join me in giving generously through a tax-deductible donation, or encourage a friend to sign up. The FSF is a small, humble organization of passionate individuals working tirelessly for our software freedom. I've seen firsthand that even small gifts make a difference.

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