General Threats to User Freedom
User Freedom Threats
- tivoization [archive] 
- malicious features (examples: macOS and Windows)
- antifeatures [archive]  
- tyrant software [archive]
- treacherous computing [archive], a.k.a. Digital Rights Management (DRM) [archive]  (Digital Restrictions Management [archive])
- compilation toolchain issues (example)
- SaaS (Software as a Service) / SaaSS (Service as a Software Substitute)
- Freedom Software clients requiring the use of non-freedom servers / APIs
- non-root enforcement
- centralization being encouraged instead of federation and decentralization (such as Signal)
- insistence upon the provision of a mobile number for sign-up (Phone Number Validation vs User Privacy)
The Whonix ™ project does not currently have a policy prohibiting discussion of any applications with these traits.
It is important to examine the objectives of the entities backing up a software project even if the code is apparently released under an open license. The impact on users' freedom in the future is at stake as a captive market is a winner takes all scenario. Consider the examples below.
Mono: Microsoft's .NET Implementation for Linux
Mono was released under dubious language concerning patent assertion, allowing Microsoft to arbitrarily enforce them if advantageous. If there had been high adoption of Mono, it would have given Microsoft enormous leverage over the language's ecosystem. Fortunately, the libre community did not take the bait and shunned the framework. Even though the patent situation changed recently, the well had been poisoned.  The SCO patent trolling used by Microsoft as an attempt to kill off Linux in the 2000s was not forgotten.
GCC vs Clang-LLVM
LLVM [archive]  was initially heavily funded by Apple in retaliation for the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) [archive] re-licensing under GPLv3 [archive]. While the permissive licensing is technically libre, it allows companies to close up forks or mandate non-free plugins. This locks in users on hardware platforms which would usher in a new dark age for libre software development and porting, and also lead to significant security and trust issues.
This unscrupulous conduct by industry players was not possible for the longest time because re-inventing another compiler with the same feature-set and architecture support as GCC was cost prohibitive. The widely cited consensus is that the competition has had a healthy outcome for GCC, leading to improved error codes, performance and features like plugin support - albeit carefully, to prevent closed plugins from piggy-backing on the compiler. However, another aspect is that compiler-specific quirks act as a "network effect" whereby if one component of a project only works with LLVM, the rest of the project follows with no interest from the developers to fix bugs or work on compatibility with GCC. For example, Libreoffice (on Windows) is switching to Clang because the the Skia renderer will only compile with it.  Over time, this could drain resources from the copyleft GCC as corporations and distributions conclude it is not cost effective to contribute to a compiler with shrinking market share.
Chromium greatly amplifies Google's influence and ability to impose their custom standards and protocols, including on web standards; the impacts on freedom are unconsidered.  Google repeatedly snub and bypass the W3C standard body especially when improvements to user privacy are proposed.  The features they design also make performance notably worse in competing browsers.  When released, the existing plan for new API limitations will prevent current and even possible future rewrites of adblockers.
No attempt to address these concerns have been made by the Chromium developers.  Every Firefox installation provides Mozilla with a bit more leverage and diverts advertisement money from Google. The less people use Firefox, the less website creators will care to invest into developing websites for compatibility, thus killing it off indirectly. If Mozilla's revenue dies and they cease to exist, Tor Browser will also disappear - destroying a key component of the privacy ecosystem. The present Chromium engine is unsuitable for privacy projects because it cannot provide equivalent Firefox protections, and there is no willingness to change the design to accommodate such initiatives.
Freedom vs Tyrant Security
Table: Freedom vs Tyrant Security
|Freedom (Open Source) Security |
|Disk Encryption||Disk encryption keys are under the sole control of the user.|
|End-to-end (E2E) Encryption||End-to-end encryption keys are under the sole control of the user.|
|Security Features||Security features are available which do not intentionally restrict user customization.|
|User Freedoms||User freedom restrictions are intentionally minimized.|
|Default Privacy, Security and Customization Settings||
|Operating System Selection||
- Policy on Non-Freedom Software
- Unsubstantiated Conclusions
- Avoid Non-Freedom Software
- Why Whonix ™ is Freedom Software
Tivoization is the creation of a system that incorporates software under the terms of a copyleft software license (like the GPL), but uses hardware restrictions or digital rights management to prevent users from running modified versions of the software on that hardware. Richard Stallman coined the term in reference to TiVo's use of GNU GPL licensed software on the TiVo brand digital video recorders (DVR), which actively blocks users from running modified software on its hardware by design.
Antifeatures are flags applied to applications to warn of issues that may be undesirable from the user's perspective. Frequently it is behavior that benefits the developer, but that the end user of the software would prefer not to be there.
- https://f-droid.org/en/docs/Anti-Features/ [archive]
Digital rights management (DRM) tools or technological protection measures (TPM) are a set of access control technologies for restricting the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works (such as software and multimedia content), as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_%28software%29#Mono_and_Microsoft's_patents [archive]
- The LLVM compiler infrastructure project is a collection of modular, reusable compiler and toolchain technologies.
- https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=LibreOffice-Needs-Windows-Clang [archive]
- http://robert.ocallahan.org/2014/08/choose-firefox-now-or-later-you-wont.html [archive]
- https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-24/google-blocks-privacy-push-at-the-group-that-sets-web-standards [archive]
- https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/12/the-web-now-belongs-to-google-and-that-should-worry-us-all/ [archive]
- https://mspoweruser.com/google-may-make-adblocking-impossible-on-edge-and-chrome/ [archive]
- https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=896897&desc=2#c23 [archive]
- Freedom Software [archive] / Open Source.
- Unfortunately, perhaps 99% of laymen utilize stock operating systems with their phone.