Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Do ends justify the means when it comes to knowledge being added to the world open-source repository of software? Should we, as a community, reject these people's hard work or just use it while also understanding that they're evil? I'm conflicted.



Emotionally, it feels to me a little like that one time a stalker bought me flowers and had them delivered to my (then-) home. I mean, yes, in general flowers are nice, but: fuck off! You can't buy my memories: a token of your affection won't make me forget what you did to me.

On reflection, the analogy bites a little closer than I might like to admit. They are stalkers, to each and every one of us. What they do is literally an attack on the entire internet (- IAB).

Please bear in mind that GCHQ are actually worse than the NSA in every way. They have essentially no "equities issue" to speak of; they operate both internationally and domestically; they have repeatedly ignored the law with essentially zero oversight, consequences or meaningful reproach; they have spied, and continue to spy, even on UK Government departments and MPs; and they are very probably about to get official powers to do mass hacking, which in typical form, they've already been doing for years anyway.

Bear in mind also that this is software that they use for analysis of data collected by spying on all of us; graph analysis software that is literally being used right now to select who to murder.

Forgive me if, therefore, I might hesitate to run any of the code of an organisation with a long history of deploying malware against innocent people.


I feel as you do. As much as I am loathe to accept anything coming out of one of these organizations as an open-source project, I think it may actually do us more harm than good by attacking this project out of protest for the way they use their tools.

We can be as negative as we wish towards these agencies, but rejecting any and all attempts at communicating with the open source community is a strong way to reinforce their already insular culture. Embracing these projects in some way or another can possibly work as positive feedback toward greater organizational transparency, if not by the brass, than by the developers and engineers that work in these organizations.


  "But software which OpenBSD uses and redistributes must be free
   to all (be they people or companies), for any purpose they wish
   to use it, including modification, use, peeing on, or even
   integration into baby mulching machines or atomic bombs to be
   dropped on Australia."
                                      -- Theo de Raadt


Every large organisation has done some things that are morally wrong, so basing our reactions on the identity of the entire organisation is unworkable - too coarse-grained, too crude, to be anything but counterproductive. We need to base our reactions on actions and policies instead.

Thus, I applaud the helpful and constructive act of releasing this product as open source, and will certainly consider it if I ever need a graph database. This does not, of course, constitute approval of every GCHQ policy.


Ethics, eh? So simple I don't know why people struggle with it.

Who are "these people"?

In what way are GCHQs coders and techies "evil"? Is it just because they have so widespread snooping powers? Is that still a problem if they have used those powers to prevent harm and injury from events that you won't have heard of? At what point does the latter outweigh the former?

I also suspect that if we follow the "GCHQ==Evil" logic, we would pretty quickly find that every coder working for a big enterprise is also "evil", and probably quite a few working for smaller ones too.

Given that it's OSS, it's not as if you're funding their vile actions by using it either.

Oh well.


The Snowden revelations showed unequivocally that the NSA surveillance did not help stop a SINGLE attack in the United States. All of the attacks were foiled due to regular people targeted intelligence. Forget about the ethics of surveilling millions of people indiscriminately, the sheer tax money wasted on this project alone is abhorrent.

And secondly, I'm sorry but i don't buy the slippery slope argument. As intelligent people we have clear boundaries about what is acceptable as the mandate of an organization and what isn't. If we took your approach to social issues we would never protest illegal wars because everyone else is involved in them or protest BP for polluting the Gulf because everyone drives cars. Its a ridiculous argument m


We can't just be consumers here, even though there is no money changing hands. This goes beyond the issue of trusting their code. We should send a clear message that 'dirty bits' are not welcome in community-built software. In effect, this is the only punishment you can dole out to an open source project--that is, choosing not to adopt it. Our 'ethics' as computer scientists are increasingly under fire and I think it's wise to know when to say 'no', especially when the hand that feeds is also the hand that beats you mercilessly.


If you think what they do is evil then explain why. Don't pretend that everyone thinks that way so much so that it doesn't even need an explanation.


It has been discussed to death here why what they do is evil.

If you want a security expert's opinion, read Bruce Schneier's blog, and if you are inclined to learn more about the ethics, this page is great: http://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs201/projects/ethics...


It's simple, they are evil, so what they do has to be evil. They are evil because ... we are good ... and they obviously separate themselves by observing others, while hiding in secrecy. It's more complex than that, but here we go.




Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: