Preposterous conclusions follow from preposterous questions.

Or, put differently, if you get people asking the wrong questions you don’t have to care about the answers they give.

The BBC reports on “Concerns over security software” and fails to account for the value of giving users software freedom.

The bottom line, according to Mr Day, is that when you download free security software you cannot be certain what you get.

But completely free security software may be a thing of the past when the new version of Windows hits the shops early next year.

In this article, the allowable range of debate extends from proprietary software you get gratis to proprietary software you have to pay to get. At no point does a user’s software freedom enter the debate. So with one sentence Mr. Day (and the BBC which uncritically repeats Day’s argument) establishes price as the most salient factor in determining trust.

The price at which you obtain “security software” is irrelevant. We in the free software movement are repeatedly told that most users “cannot be certain what [they] get” because most users are not programmers. So why should software freedom matter to them?

Software freedom should matter to all computer users because only software freedom grants users what they need to retain control over their lives on the computer. Price is not everything, in fact price isn’t what’s really important for secure computing. Focusing on low-cost, secure software are consequences of software freedom. Being able to share and modify software is crucial: even though you’re not a programmer, you need people who can inspect, share, and improve the software you run. You need to be able to go to anyone willing to do the inspection and modification work and give them a copy of the program to work on. Those hackers should come from a wide variety of places, not just the organization trying to get that software onto your machine; software freedom makes independent review possible. Software freedom lets you purchase the services of people you trust. Proprietary software, no matter its price, doesn’t give users these freedoms.

Try sharing and modifying any of the programs this BBC article mentions. They’re all proprietary programs. You’re trusting one black box to “protect” you from the insecurities of another black box.

Windows Vista, as the new operating system is known, brings a whole new way of dealing with how data is controlled within the operating system.

The BBC has not read Vista source code and thus has no real idea what that OS is capable of doing. This paragraph and others like it are merely repeating Microsoft press release material then distributing it as if it is news or critical understanding of how computers work. Proprietors will not critically review their own work until they have some other trap for you to enter. As for what Microsoft will deliver in Vista, the upcoming version of Windows, if you believe what Microsoft is saying, you’ve not been paying attention to Microsoft’s colossal international record of failure.