A Jan. 17 article “Freedom software advocate warns about privacy concerns” erred when describing me as an “open source advocate.” In 1983, I founded the free software movement to win freedom for computer users. The “free” in free software refers to freedom, not price. Therefore, please describe me as a “free software advocate”.

The term “open source” was coined in 1998 by people who wanted to bury the free software ideals. They have a right to their views, but I disagree with them, so it is misleading to use “open” or “closed” to say where I stand.

I didn’t speak of “surveillance that Stalin can only dream of,” since Stalin died in 1953. I said “could.” Here’s a list of shocking examples of digital surveillance — there are many more.

I think the article was unfair to the Luddites. They didn’t blindly oppose technology. Rather, they fought technology that caused massive unemployment and poverty — as is the case in the United States today.

The article ends with a correction stating, accurately, that I didn’t develop Linux. Linux is a kernel that was started by Linus Torvalds in 1991. However, when people say “Linux operating system,” they mean the operating system I started in 1984, which is the GNU system.

Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation

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