A Way To Save BlackBerry

Editor’s note: Andrew Auernheimer, aka Weev, a hacker who was convicted of hacking AT&T’s iPad customer information service and sentenced to 41 months in prison. Since June, he has sent TechCrunch two other essays from prison, “The Tiger And The Cicada” and “State Machinery For State Machines.”

The first smartphone I owned was a Nokia Communicator, which I chose because the C++ dev kit gave me the most freedom. When the iPhone appeared I did not switch, because mandatory App Store signing to execute code seemed like a major step in the war on general computation. Eventually I rid myself of Nokia and got an Android acting upon a moral imperative.

Many hackers adhere to the ideology of Richard Stallman. We believe that the use of free software (that is software whose source can be viewed, altered and distributed by all of its users) is morally advantageous. We subject ourselves to “inferior” platforms in exchange for more liberty. Android is not free software, but has many free software components, so it is the most free for the time being.

BlackBerry is a flickering candle about to be snuffed, but hope yet lies in the baptismal flame of liberty.

Stallman himself refuses to carry a cellphone because none of them are free software and they have government back doors. His ascetic devotion to our cause is noble, but not realistic for those of us who find mobile devices irreplaceable tools for improving our incomes and sex lives. We less devout followers of the Church of Emacs settle for the most free platform in lieu of true freedom.

I hate Android’s UI/UX cesspool and Google’s growing surveillance state. There are vast numbers of us sharing that sentiment, and all of us could be happy BlackBerry users. BlackBerry would merely have to perform a single revolutionary act: the liberation of mobile users and developers. Release every line of source under the GPLv3. Open up the specs for every hardware component and let the community build their own devices without NSA or corporate backdoors. Our gratitude and fealty will show themselves in BlackBerry’s quarterly earnings reports.

BlackBerry is a flickering candle about to be snuffed, but hope yet lies in the baptismal flame of liberty. With nothing left to lose, perhaps BlackBerry will have the courage to disrupt its competitors and world governments.

[Image: Flickr / Brian Gautreau]