FSF wants free version of Siri as Flash replacement dumped from priority list

The Free Software Foundation has said it wants a free software version of a personal assistant among its updated priority projects list.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has declared that Flash is no longer a priority, as the foundation will instead emphasise the need for a free mobile operating system, cloud replacement, Siri-like personal assistant, and Skype replacement.

In its updated High Priority Free Software Projects list, the FSF said users need a free software intelligent assistant replacement to maintain control of their data.

"Apple's Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Amazon Echo's Alexa, and other intelligent personal assistants (IPAs) are becoming more pervasive. Whatever convenience they provide comes with unacceptable tradeoffs: The breadth of access to users' data they take in order to operate is enormous, and both the client and server accessing such data are not distributed," the FSF said.

Despite the existence of Android and its open-source project, the foundation still maintains the need for a free software operating system, such as Replicant, and said it was the most requested item.

"Smartphones are the most widely used form of personal computer today. Thus, the need for a fully free phone operating system is crucial to the proliferation of software freedom," it said.

The FSF also added to its high-priority list the need for decentralised cloud services, to increase the usage of free software in government, and to encourage increased accessibility and internationalisation of free software.

According to the foundation's analysis, the projects selected are of strategic importance to the FSF because they either help the uptake of free software, remove an existing roadblock in the non-proprietary ecosystem, or are of universal need.

Remaining on the list was the need for a video communication platform that could replace Skype or FaceTime.

"These programs seduce free software users into using proprietary software, often two users at a time," the FSF said. "Using proprietary voice and video chat software means that we can't be sure who is listening in, because we can't see the code. Unfortunately, Google Hangouts is also not a solution here, because it still requires users to run proprietary software."

Dumped from the priority list was the need for a free replacement for Adobe Flash, Google Earth, Oracle Forms, BitTorrent, transcription software, and Matlab -- as these projects failed to meet the strategic criteria.

"As the technological landscape has shifted over the last decade since the first version of the list was published, threats to users' freedom to use their computers on their own terms have changed enormously," said FSF's board director Benjamin Mako Hill.

"The updated High Priority Projects list is a description of the most important threats, and most critical opportunities, that free software faces in the modern computing landscape."

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