Programmer Legend Richard Stallman: "Android Phones Don't Respect Your Freedom"

richard stallman

Photo: Stallman.org

Despite being touted as “free” and “open source,” Android is anything but, writes Richard Stallman, prominent hacker, programmer, and software activist, in The Guardian.It’s a dense piece of writing, but here’s some of the nuggets we took away from it:

  • Google said it withheld the 3.0 source code for Android because it was buggy. Stallman says that’s fine for people who want to run the Android system, but the users should be the ones deciding that in order for the software to be truly “free.”
  • Android hardware is often designed to stop people from installing modified software. Sure, you can root your device, but this is considered circumvention.
  • Important Android firmware and device drivers are proprietary too — Wi-Fi, GPS, camera, Bluetooth, phone network radio, and the microphone among many others. You can do without some of these, but certainly not without the microphone or phone network radio.

Stallman wraps up his essay with a bit of a warning — he says that “even though the Android phones of today are considerably less bad than Apple or Windows smartphones, they cannot be said to respect your freedom.”

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