So the internet’s winners are finally chipping in? About time…

The generosity of Facebook, Microsoft et al in the wake of the Heartbleed bug only highlights the degree to which the giants of Silicon Valley are willing to shirk their responsibilities“It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” wrote Upton Sinclair, the great American muckraking journalist, “when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” That was in 1935, so let us update it for our times: “It is impossible to get an executive of an internet company to understand anything if the value of his (or her) stock options depends on not understanding it.”There are two things in particular that the various infant prodigies, charlatans, megalomaniacs, sociopaths and venture capitalists who run our great internet companies have a vested interest in not understanding.

Even more interesting is the fact that the core infrastructure of the network runs on software that is all in the public domain. Almost every broadband modem, for example, runs on the Linux operating system, which is free software created by programmers for the love of it. The corporations who make the modems profit from them; but they never paid a cent for Linux.I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with, however, is that these neoliberal free riders on public resources seem to feel no obligation to give anything back. For not only do they go to fantastic lengths to avoid paying tax, but they also feel little obligation to contribute to the upkeep of the public-domain code that enables them to function.

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