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Free Software Foundation statement on PRISM revelations

by John Sullivan Contributions Published on Jun 07, 2013 04:45 PM
To protect their freedom and privacy, the FSF urges everyone to contact their representatives, avoid Software as a Service, and donate to support projects working for a better, safer world.

In response to the Guardian report that major Internet companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google, YouTube, Skype, Yahoo, PalTalk, and AOL, have apparently been providing sensitive user data to the National Security Agency (NSA), FSF executive director John Sullivan made the following statement:

Massive privacy intrusions like this are to be expected when people shift from storing their media locally and using local software, to storing them on other people's servers and using hosted (Web) applications. Giants like Microsoft, Facebook and Google are vulnerable to government requests for user data, and there are better, more secure ways to share information online. Free software projects like GNU MediaGoblin, StatusNet, Diaspora,, Tahoe-LAFS, FreedomBox and SparkleShare are hard at work creating a less centralized world where users retain control over both their media and the software used to access it, while still getting the social and convenience benefits of the giant centralized -- and compromised -- services.

The FSF will continue to follow this story.

For the moment, we encourage people to:

  1. Contact their representatives, if in the US. The FSF signed a letter with 85 other organizations demanding an investigation into the spying practices.
  2. Avoid Software as a Service, and instead pursue autonomous and free software solutions. So-called "cloud computing" is a trap. Sites like the Free Software Directory and PRISM Break may help you get started.
  3. Donate to support free software projects like the above as well as organizations working on behalf of user freedom and privacy.

2013-06-11: Updated to add that the FSF signed the coalition letter demanding an investigation into the spying practices, to add reference to Richard Stallman's interview warning about the danger of "cloud computing," and to provide links to sites listing relevant free software.

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