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> Gmail uses JavaScript which violate privacy and freedom
redman
 Posted: May 11 2011, 10:59 AM
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Are you using Gmail? Many people these days have an @gmail.com email address.

JavaScript, once lauded for adding simple visual effects to web pages, is now used by web sites like Gmail to run powerful programs on your computer. These programs, like any other program running on your computer, should be free software. But right now, the vast majority of JavaScript programs do not respect your essential freedoms to run, study, modify and share them. They take control of your computer away from you.

Many people suggest that you shouldn't use Gmail at all, because it means losing control over your data and privacy. We agree that this is a very important factor for you to consider when choosing how you will handle your email


Read more on this topic and what you can do about it here.


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wearetheborg
 Posted: May 11 2011, 09:22 PM
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With due respect redman, thats a complete bashing post, and the linked article does not say what harm gmail javascipt is doing; not does it present viable alternatives.

(Partial) Solutions for email:
1. Use PGP for encryption.
2. Use thunderbird etc as the email client.

For javascript:
Use SELinux/AppArmor/Noscript.



Irony: http://scientificlinuxforum.org runs scripts from googleapis.com and google-analytics.com (all currently blocked by noscript) wink.gif


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redman
 Posted: May 12 2011, 06:06 AM
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QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 11 2011, 11:22 PM)
With due respect redman, thats a complete bashing post, and the linked article does not say what harm gmail javascipt is doing; not does it present viable alternatives.

Also with due respect, you think of bashing, I think of informing people who use Gmail and their freedom and privacy. How many people use Gmail simply because it is free without thinking of the consequences? Please read their user agreement. With all their services you always allow them to use your data. The same goes for the JavaScript apps used. This is about awareness. If I wanted to bash, I would have posted something different in a harsh way (which isn't allowed according to the forum rules) wink.gif

No alternatives? Come on ... there are more then enough alternatives for Gmail. Besides, if you read the article, you could have read how to skip the JavaScript apps.

QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 11 2011, 11:22 PM)
Irony: http://scientificlinuxforum.org runs scripts from googleapis.com and google-analytics.com (all currently blocked by noscript)  wink.gif

No irony. This forum is powered/sponsored by services offered by Jcink. So we didn't setup it up on purpose. But it is something to have a look at.


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spoovy
 Posted: May 12 2011, 08:57 AM
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I don't think this is a bashing article as it doesn't slate google, it just points out that gmail website uses proprietry javascript. What is the FSF for if not to raise awareness of these things?


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AndrewSerk
 Posted: May 12 2011, 04:00 PM
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+1 for mozilla-noscript

I have used mozilla-noscript for some time. I find it works well to stop these kinds of "invasions" . Some find noscript a hassle having to allow the scripts you want to run, but I have found the hassle to be well worth the effort. Like any new to the user software, there is a learning curve.
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wearetheborg
 Posted: May 12 2011, 05:59 PM
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QUOTE (redman @ May 12 2011, 01:06 AM)

Also with due respect, you think of bashing, I think of informing people who use Gmail and their freedom and privacy. How many people use Gmail simply because it is free without thinking of the consequences? Please read their user agreement.

I 100% agree with you. I dont use gmail.

However, the title of the thread is "Gmail uses JavaScript to violate privacy and freedom".
How exactly is google using JavaScript to "violate privacy and freedom"? The article does not claim that AT ALL. It is slander.



QUOTE (redman)

With all their services you always allow them to use your data. The same goes for the JavaScript apps used. This is about awareness.

If you want to post about the (very real) dangers of javascript, you should make a thread titled "JavaScript can be used to steal private data" or something like that.

If want to claim google is using JavaScript to steal private data of users, post evidence.




QUOTE (redman)

Besides, if you read the article, you could have read how to skip the JavaScript apps.
I read the article, but I missed the links, my bad.


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redman
 Posted: May 13 2011, 06:04 AM
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It is quite interesting to see where this discussion is going.
So here we go again ...

QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 12 2011, 07:59 PM)
How exactly is google using JavaScript to "violate privacy and freedom"? The article does not claim that AT ALL. It is slander.


QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 12 2011, 07:59 PM)
If want to claim google is using JavaScript to steal private data of users, post evidence.


First of all, the Free Software Foundation (or FSF)[/ur] strives for many years that software on your computer should be free. Free as outlined in [url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html]The Free Software Definition. Simply put, you as an user have 4 principle rights: the freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0), the freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). And the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Google is a company. The first rule for every company is making money. Google's business model is about gathering information. That is their product: information. The more they know, the better they are. And this is where the discussion starts. How far should a company go? Take StreetView for example. Google has been charting streets around the world with cars that have special equipment. What nobody knew in the beginning was that Google also was registering all WIFI networks (and if they were or weren't protected). Or the fact that track everything you do by using cookies on your computer. Or the fact that they scan your emails in order to display the correct kind of ads? Or the fact that if you remove mails or your account the information still remains on their backup systems for several months?

As for the JavaScript stuff, you might want to read more about in this article.


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Jcink
 Posted: May 13 2011, 07:24 AM
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By FSF standards... the title that redman gave this is correct. You need to read their javascript trap page and then the title does make sense.

Now let me just say: being a programmer myself and having an understanding of javascript, this kind of thing from the FSF is extremism.

You have a choice, don't use GMail or simply don't use their web client. They say that you can't use GMail if you disable their javascript for the site, that's just not true. The basic HTML version has been around for a LONG time and you can pretty much do everything you'd need to with it.

Also, you DO get access to the source code. This is javascript after all. Sure it might be obfuscated but if you really wanted to, you could figure it out and spend the time to remap their javascript files and modify them to do the things you want. I'm pretty sure grease monkey has options to do that.

I'm all for open source but for them to try to demand Google make all the javascript open source is just crazy. GMail is not some simple piece of javascript; it took considerable time, effort and money to make. If they want to keep that for themselves then that's their right.

Let's say they did open source it and hand people the code to distribute and use to modify gmail their way. Does anyone know what a real nightmare for compatibility it would be to have people running around with custom javascript for Google's site? What a massive pain all around that would be. How would "updates" be issued? How could they easily make interface changes without people crying all the time to them that they broke it? Would they have to start storing a million different versions to prevent breaking gmail's stability if the files started being used en-mass? FSF doesn't provide any solution to this one but yet calls for google to do all the extra work to make it 'open source.'

By the way, regarding the google analytics. I can work something out to take that off of just this board if it's a problem. That script is put in there by me as redman says and it runs across all of our hosted boards so we can track statistics to use with adsense. Since this board is advertisement free forever there's no need for it.
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spoovy
 Posted: May 13 2011, 09:27 AM
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i think the FSF can go a bit OTT sometimes, but if they do it's probably because they are trying to catch the attention of an incredibly apathetic audience.

I use gmail and other google services, and I use noscript and other measures to protect my privacy while using them. Its a dance with the devil.


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redman
 Posted: May 13 2011, 10:45 AM
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QUOTE (spoovy @ May 13 2011, 11:27 AM)
... but if they do it's probably because they are trying to catch the attention of an incredibly apathetic audience.

Which might be the reason behind their complaints towards Google. Especially if you think of their plans to move everything into the cloud. The cloud is easy to use, but a mess about freedom considering that it is run by someone else who determines what kind of software is used (so switching is not always easy). Richard Stallman (who started FSF) wrote an intesting article on this subject: link.


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wearetheborg
 Posted: May 13 2011, 05:46 PM
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QUOTE (redman @ May 13 2011, 01:04 AM)
It is quite interesting to see where this discussion is going.
So here we go again ...

QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 12 2011, 07:59 PM)
How exactly is google using JavaScript to "violate privacy and freedom"? The article does not claim that AT ALL. It is slander.


QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 12 2011, 07:59 PM)
If want to claim google is using JavaScript to steal private data of users, post evidence.


First of all, the Free Software Foundation (or FSF)[/ur] strives for many years that software on your computer should be free. Free as outlined in [url=http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html]The Free Software Definition. Simply put, you as an user have 4 principle rights: the freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0), the freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). And the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Google is a company. The first rule for every company is making money. Google's business model is about gathering information. That is their product: information. The more they know, the better they are. And this is where the discussion starts. How far should a company go? Take StreetView for example. Google has been charting streets around the world with cars that have special equipment. What nobody knew in the beginning was that Google also was registering all WIFI networks (and if they were or weren't protected). Or the fact that track everything you do by using cookies on your computer. Or the fact that they scan your emails in order to display the correct kind of ads? Or the fact that if you remove mails or your account the information still remains on their backup systems for several months?

As for the JavaScript stuff, you might want to read more about in this article.


There is nothing in your post which supports your hypothesis of google using JavaScript to violate privacy and freedom.

Asking for software to be free to be modified; saying google is a company with profit as its only motive (duh) is one thing.
Claiming that google is using javascript to steal data is another, and it is slander.


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wearetheborg
 Posted: May 13 2011, 05:46 PM
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QUOTE (Jcink @ May 13 2011, 02:24 AM)
By FSF standards... the title that redman gave this is correct. You need to read their javascript trap page and then the title does make sense.


What trap page?


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redman
 Posted: May 13 2011, 06:54 PM
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QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 13 2011, 07:46 PM)
Claiming that google is using javascript to steal data is another, and it is slander.

Violating privacy and freedom is something different as stealing it. This time they use JavaScript, next time it is cookies. The tool is described here and the means how to disable that tool.


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joutlan
 Posted: May 13 2011, 08:34 PM
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QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 13 2011, 01:46 PM)
QUOTE (redman @ May 13 2011, 01:04 AM)
It is quite interesting to see where this discussion is going.
So here we go again ...

Claiming that google is using javascript to steal data is another, and it is slander.


Actually it would be libel if it's written wink.gif I'm sure Google has some good legal beagles smile.gif


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Jcink
 Posted: May 13 2011, 10:16 PM
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QUOTE (wearetheborg @ May 13 2011, 01:46 PM)
QUOTE (Jcink @ May 13 2011, 02:24 AM)
By FSF standards... the title that redman gave this is correct. You need to read their javascript trap page and then the title does make sense.


What trap page?

Stallman wrote this:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html

Basically if you take this view, then GMail violates freedom and privacy because the javascript code is non-free. Because you can't control what the javascript might be doing it's a privacy violation.

See what I mean?

Simply the fact that this is their attitude toward javascript is what makes it so.
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wearetheborg
 Posted: May 14 2011, 11:17 PM
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QUOTE (Jcink @ May 13 2011, 05:16 PM)

Stallman wrote this:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html

Basically if you take this view, then GMail violates freedom and privacy because the javascript code is non-free. Because you can't control what the javascript might be doing it's a privacy violation.

See what I mean?

Simply the fact that this is their attitude toward javascript is what makes it so.



That is complete BS (your reasoning). I agree with what Stallman wrote. Your (and redman's) claim that just because a site uses javascript means that its violating your privacy is BS. Redman goes a step further blaiming specifically google.

I am not saying that google provably does NOT use javascript to violate privacy. I am saying we do not know (this is why Stallman wrote that article). And Redman claiming otherwise is libel.

For me, privacy violation is someone observing you or obtaining data from you when you have a reasonable expectation to be unobserved, unintruded upon.


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joutlan
 Posted: May 14 2011, 11:45 PM
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You know, there's a flip side to everything....I actually like myself traceable on the 'net because it pretty much shows who I really am and what I'm about, which incidentally I don't care to hide smile.gif That can work to my benefit. I will use Google Services whether they are or are not tracking info for advertising purposes. As long as I don't get phone calls, or junk mail via snail mail, I'm ok smile.gif

If one wants to totally drop off the radar, just stay offline would be my advice wink.gif Don't know if this made sense or is totally relevant to the conversation, but it's my general attitude about such matters. Just be aware, that's all. dry.gif

But I do not believe Google is doing anything that they don't disclose "somewhere". It would ruin them.


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Jcink
 Posted: May 15 2011, 12:49 AM
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I'm not saying that just because a site uses javascript it violates privacy, neither do they. They don't have any problem with simple functions that can easily be looked at or controlled.

I guess it's just how we're interpreting it. Don't get me wrong, I think that use of the word is extreme... but from *my* interpretation of how the FSF looks at freedom and privacy with software I thought it made sense.

QUOTE
You know, there's a flip side to everything....I actually like myself traceable on the 'net because it pretty much shows who I really am and what I'm about, which incidentally I don't care to hide smile.gif That can work to my benefit.


joutlan, here's the thing though. You put yourself out there online and that's fine. That's voluntary. I also use Google services for quite a lot. I put a lot of trust in them that even though they're logging a lot they aren't going to release everything I'm doing.

I still don't want people to know every site or search term I've ever used. Those aren't things I want associated with my name. I don't want people having access to all of my emails. I think there are a lot of others who can say the same thing. We put trust in these companies that they won't do such things with the information. If they released this information tomorrow to everyone, I would be mad.

One other thing... google or any other site having all of your search terms and being able to trace them to your residence really does not benefit your or anyone elses business at all except them. Period. Even if we all have nothing to hide, them logging it does not make it cool, but we just roll with it. A price to pay for the use of such things.
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joutlan
 Posted: May 15 2011, 01:12 AM
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QUOTE (Jcink @ May 14 2011, 08:49 PM)
I'm not saying that just because a site uses javascript it violates privacy, neither do they. They don't have any problem with simple functions that can easily be looked at or controlled.

I guess it's just how we're interpreting it. Don't get me wrong, I think that use of the word is extreme... but from *my* interpretation of how the FSF looks at freedom and privacy with software I thought it made sense.

QUOTE
You know, there's a flip side to everything....I actually like myself traceable on the 'net because it pretty much shows who I really am and what I'm about, which incidentally I don't care to hide smile.gif That can work to my benefit.


joutlan, here's the thing though. You put yourself out there online and that's fine. That's voluntary. I also use Google services for quite a lot. snip....


What I was trying to say, is if you are aware of what's going on, it's all voluntary. Just be aware that's all.


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spoovy
 Posted: May 15 2011, 09:03 AM
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QUOTE (joutlan @ May 14 2011, 11:45 PM)

But I do not believe Google is doing anything that they don't disclose "somewhere".  It would ruin them.



They most definitely did; and people barely noticed - http://is.gd/K4ESQ6
But that's a different subject altogether.

This javascript/email scanning conversation comes down to consent imo. As I see it, if someone signs up to Google's free email service then they have given implicit consent for Google to get some information out of them in return; Google has to get paid after all. Even if Google doesn't explicitly state that they are scanning emails etc then it's implicit that they are doing so.

Same goes for the javascript on the Gmail website. If your privacy is that important to you then you shouldn't really be using free-as-in-beer services from a company whose core business is to collect and sell personal information!


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redman
 Posted: May 15 2011, 10:21 AM
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This discussion is going to repeat itself, although in other words. Since this is not going to be resolved here (simply because people have different believes and/or views) I'm closing this thread. And since the issue was with what things were done I have changed the topic title and replaced "to" into "which" (it was about the tools and not who).


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helikaon
 Posted: May 18 2011, 09:36 AM
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QUOTE (redman @ May 11 2011, 10:59 AM)
Are you using Gmail? Many people these days have an @gmail.com email address.

JavaScript, once lauded for adding simple visual effects to web pages, is now used by web sites like Gmail to run powerful programs on your computer...
Read more on this topic and what you can do about it here.


Well guys,
this discussion has more like philosphy proportion for me and is much more broad than only this, since we could start with street cameras, mobile operators tracking your cell phones, you being scanned naked on airports and so on and so on .. all this for your better security .... (and ofc making heaps of cash by selling data to marketing companies ... welcome to world of free trade...)
Regarding this particular issue .... if youre afraid, uninstall Desktop, X server, install TOR, privoxy etc and browse www from cli using LYNX ! biggrin.gif
Sometimes, i still use the lynx and its still pretty good and fast browser smile.gif


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redman
 Posted: May 18 2011, 10:23 AM
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Helikaon, the thread was closed.
But because you are a moderator still could post.


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joutlan
 Posted: May 18 2011, 04:43 PM
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QUOTE (redman @ May 18 2011, 06:23 AM)
Helikaon, the thread was closed.
But because you are a moderator still could post.


Ha ha yes....we were talking past each other because it came down to philosophy. Spoov made a good point.

xxx CLOSED xxx biggrin.gif


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