Richard Stallman, known for his instrumental role in the creation of Linux, has written an opinion piece arguing that nearly any operating system you might use today can be considered malware, and that goes for popular mobile platforms as well as desktop operating systems.
According to Stallman’s post in The Guardian, any software that’s not distributed free of charge can be considered malware. “In the 21st century, proprietary software is computing for suckers,” he wrote.
Stallman says OS software is currently designed to spy on users, shackle them via DRM and even have backdoors that can be used for malicious purposes.
“What kinds of programs constitute malware? Operating systems, first of all,” he said. “Windows snoops on users, shackles users and, on mobiles, censors apps; it also has a universal back door that allows Microsoft to remotely impose software changes. Microsoft sabotages Windows users by showing security holes to the NSA before fixing them.”
“Apple systems are malware too: Mac OS snoops and shackles; iOS snoops, shackles, censors apps and has a back door. Even Android contains malware in a nonfree component: a back door for remote forcible installation or deinstallation of any app,” Stallman added.
He also said that paid apps contain plenty of malware as well, as they can spy on the user and report data to other companies. Similarly, he identified streaming apps as malware, since they prevent people from “saving a copy of the data that they receive,” and track viewing and listening habits.
“Should you trust an Internet of proprietary software things?” he rhetorically asked. “Don’t be an ass.”
“It is fashionable to recognize the viciousness of today’s computing only to declare resistance unthinkable. Many claim that no one could resist gratification for mere freedom and privacy. But it’s not as hard as they say. We can resist,” he concluded.
The solution, he said, is to reject software and web services that snoop or track, to support the development of free software that doesn’t track the user, and to design legislation that would criminalize all of these new forms of “malware.”