RMS in The Guardian: “A radical proposal to keep your personal data safe”
Here at the Free Software Foundation (FSF), we're never surprised when another violation of privacy by Facebook or other bad actors is exposed: it has long since been obvious that Facebook is a gold mine for government surveillance and advertisers. However, we also recognize that social media has become a crucial part of everyday life, which is why we urge you to ditch Facebook and instead utilize freedom-respecting, distributed, user-controlled services like GNU social, Mastodon, or Diaspora.
In the meantime, something needs to be done to halt the overall abuse of data, and in today's issue of The Guardian, FSF president and founder Richard Stallman (RMS) offers a bold proposal: that systems need to be legally required to not collect data in the first place. “The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data," he writes, "if its basic function can be carried out without that data.” He demands that this change go far beyond Facebook:
“Broader, meaning extending to all surveillance systems, not just Facebook. Deeper, meaning to advance from regulating the use of data to regulating the accumulation of data. Because surveillance is so pervasive, restoring privacy is necessarily a big change, and requires powerful measures.”
As an example of a system that could be adjusted to work this way, RMS notes that London trains and buses don't actually need to centrally record records of where people travel in order to work, although they now do so, which is a fundamental invasion of privacy. He also offers the example of GNU Taler, a convenient digital payment system that keeps payers anonymous: this is a system that already exists and respects users' privacy.