Richard Stallman: Why you should not use Uber

Richard Stallman’s views are always “interesting”…his latest on Uber are no different ranging from well-reasoned to the absolutely insane

  • It requires passengers to run a nonfree program (an app). As always, a nonfree program tramples its users’ freedom.

Free software has never figured out the incentive problem. Look at all the problems we’ve had with buggy free security software like OpenSSL in 2014.

  • That app requires running other nonfree software (in the case of Android, Google Play).

Moving on.

  • It requires you to let Big Brother track you, with a portable phone.
  • Uber requires you to identify yourself, both to order a cab and to pay.
  • Uber also records where you get the cab and where you go with it.

There are huge benefits to non-anonymous system, but important to keep in mind the privacy costs.

  • The US government can get those records, and any lawsuit (such as a divorce lawsuit) can subpoena them.

They can get taxi records as well. Taxis often have cameras and many pay with identifiable payment methods like credit card. If you’re worried about divorce lawsuits, you can always consider not getting married.

  • Uber is an unregulated near-monopoly, so it can cut rates for drivers arbitrarily.

Lack of regulation is a feature not a bug

  • Drivers are starting to complain that they’re left with little money for their work.
  • Uber drivers are getting shafted; Uber can arbitrarily cut their pay, and they have to work 15 hours a day.

They’re free to drive for another company or get another job.

  • Uber plans to do away with human cab drivers.

Awesome! You’d think a technology visionary like Stallman would be excited about this!

  • It would be easy for a non-plutocratic government to prohibit this, and that’s what every country ought to do, unless/until every person gets an adequate basic income so people don’t need to be employed.

Ban Uber because governments haven’t implemented Stallman’s fringe socialist vision for society? What?

  • Uber executives and staff have stalked passengers in various ways.

I’ve actually experienced this. It’s kind of creepy. The company needs figure out its policy on this.

  • Uber can track who has a one-night stand. In fact, it did so.

People (including Uber) should spend less time and brainpower worrying about who is sleeping with whom. Grow up!

  Updated
Larry Salibra

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I'm the Founder & CEO of Pay4Bugs, the crowdsourced testing service that finds product bugs before they cost you sales. More about me.