Karl Fogel

Karl Fogel at

The Trump administration is reportedly considering (somehow) banning TikTok.

Serious question: is this a Free Software issue?

The app itself isn't FOSS, but the government telling people what bits -- proprietary or otherwise -- they can run on their own devices seems bad...

(Substitute "software freedom" for "Free Software" in the above if that makes the question clearer.)

Karl Fogel at 2020-07-23T14:31:05Z

The US and Australian militaries banned it on their networks and devices over security concerns.  The National Defense Authorization Act 2021 provision being moved states in operative part: “In General.--Except as provided in subsection (b), no employee of the United States, officer of the United States, Member of Congress, congressional employee, or officer or employee of a government corporation may download or use TikTok or any successor application developed by ByteDance or any entity owned by ByteDance on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation.”  The exception allows for research, law enforcement, and intelligence activity usage notwithstanding.
This means no civil servants or troopers will be able to use the SaaS on their official devices and official networks.  Off-duty they can do what they want.  Private individuals are not covered by this.  There is no software freedom issue as an employer is regulating its employees.

Stephen Michael Kellat at 2020-07-23T18:36:02Z

I'll play devil's advocate a bit to figure out what you're getting at:

if the government were to forbid everyone from running any non-free software whatsoever, would that be a bad thing, a software freedom issue?

would the rationale that the goal is to stop people from being victims of malware not be a good one?

one could argue, as we often have in public tenders that demanded software freedom, that no software has the restrictions that render it non-free built into it; any piece of software could be made available in a freedom-respecting, thus no software is really excluded, it's only the abuse that comes with it when it's non-free that would be excluded

Alexandre Oliva at 2020-07-25T17:34:01Z