VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Richard Stallman on Africa, PRISM, ID cards and eTolls

Following Dr Richard Stallman’s presentation at Wits University in Johannesburg on Saturday, we got to sit down with him and ask him some questions about free software, Africa and more. The highlights are embedded below.

Dr Stallman is the president and founder of the Free Software Foundation, and the videos below are encoded in Theora format. They should play in any modern web browser, but if you can’t see them, the original files can be downloaded here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

If you need a player that will run them, we recommend VLC. Without further ado, on to something I’m calling the New Video Interview Q&A Format. Expect more polish with time.


In this post-PRISM world, do you ever think: “I told you so”?


Is it a problem that the outcry over PRISM in the US is largely confined to the US government spying on US citizens?

What would you say to people who welcome South Africa’s new ID cards as a tool against identity fraud and other crimes?

Many people advocate digital technologies as a way to cut down on corruption. It’s harder for security guards to solicit bribes, for example, if you’re using a cashless card.

Are people too ready to adopt a digital way of solving problems like this?

Africa’s tech hubs are primarily focussed on mobile technology – does that make them bad even though they have been hailed as a way of helping to address unemployment on the continent and create jobs?

[Note – Dr Stallman refuses to carry a mobile phone on account of the ability of telco operators to locate the user and potentially turn the handset into a bugging device]

Does it worry you that most of the funding for high quality computer programming training in Africa comes from the likes of Microsoft, Google, BlackBerry et al?


Recent statistics showed that fewer than 4 600 developers use Github in Africa. Does that worry you that there are so few people collaborating in this manner on free software?

You mentioned in your talk that you think crowdfunding is generally a good thing. Is it possible to support crowdfunding anonymously?

[Surprisingly, the answer also includes a discussion of how etolls could be done without tracking too]
On a side note, if any one knows a simple way to get WordPress video embeds to behave themselves when it comes to size and alignment, please do let us know…


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