February 19, 2019

GNU/Linux: Source Code and Human Rights - page 4

Reframing the Conversation

  • May 8, 2008
  • By Bruce Byfield

All these personal rights are in aid of an even larger right--the one alluded to in the Free Software Foundation's definition of "free" as "free as in speech." If freedom of speech is to have any meaning in the modern world, then accessibility to computers and the Internet is an inevitable corollary. Just as free speech is not served by one person buying an hour of prime time TV and a rival handing out photocopies on the street corners, so free speech becomes meaningless in the modern world without access to the Internet.

Without this access, people--in fact, whole nations--are cut off from not only convenient and efficient communication, but also much of the ongoing dialog in the modern world. Although the cost of hardware remains a problem, the rights inherent in FOSS go a long way towards enabling this access.

By using FOSS and claiming your rights as a consumer, you are also encouraging the spread of this access. You are supporting one of the few initiatives that give developing nations and the poor any hope of participating as equals in the modern world. That is why you should be using FOSS--not, in the end because you have any interest in tinkering with code, but as a way of extending human rights and dignity.

In the short term, why should average users care about accessible source code? But, in the long term, that right to source code is the means of enabling other, even more basic rights, both for yourself and others.

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