In association with heise online

23 March 2009, 10:22

Stallman and the "The JavaScript Trap"

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • submit to slashdot
  • StumbleUpon
  • submit to reddit

In a posting on, reminiscent of his "The Java Trap" posting in 2004, Richard Stallman has defined what he calls "The JavaScript Trap". In the article, Stallman points out that non-free programs may be running on your computer in the web browser. Stallman suggests that this happens because users are not aware of the execution of JavaScript code within web pages, saying "the browsers' silence tends to conceal it."

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) founder wants to see browser users being able to replace loaded JavaScript code with their own versions of that code. He also wants to see "Only free programs transmitted to the user" become "part to the criterion for proper behaviour by web sites".

The article proposes a plan of action, starting with a definition of what a "non-trivial JavaScript program" is, and then changing free browsers "to support the freedom for users of pages with JavaScript". The changes, according to Stallman, should include telling the user about non-trivial, non-free JavaScript programs, rather than running them, and include a facility to specify what JavaScript code is used on a certain page. Stallman proposes that a non-trivial program should be defined as being one which defines a method and either downloads an external script, or makes an AJAX request. Under his plan free JavaScript would add an annotation in comments of the source of the code and include a two paragraph licence notice.

Stallman, who is known for reading the web by email, concludes the article saying "These features will make it possible for a JavaScript program included in a web page to be free in a real and practical sense ... Our campaign for web sites to free their JavaScript can then begin."


Print Version | Send by email | Permalink:

  • July's Community Calendar

The H Open

The H Security

The H Developer

The H Internet Toolkit