We at EFF are profoundly disappointed to hear of the re-election of Richard Stallman to a leadership position at the Free Software Foundation, after a series of serious accusations of misconduct led to his resignation as president and board member of the FSF in 2019. We are also disappointed that this was done despite no discernible steps taken by him to be accountable for, much less make amends for, his past actions or those who have been harmed by them. Finally, we are also disturbed by the secretive process of his re-election, and how it was belatedly conveyed to FSF’s staff and supporters.
Stallman’s re-election sends a wrong and hurtful message to free software movement, as well as those who have left that movement because of Stallman’s previous behavior.
Free software is a vital component of an open and just technological society: its key institutions and individuals cannot place misguided feelings of loyalty above their commitment to that cause. The movement for digital freedom is larger than any one individual contributor, regardless of their role. Indeed, we hope that this moment can be an opportunity to bring in new leaders and new ideas to the free software movement.
We urge the voting members of the FSF1 to call a special meeting to reconsider this decision, and we also call on Stallman to step down: for the benefit of the organization, the values it represents, and the diversity and long-term viability of the free software movement as a whole.
- 1. Note: If you donate to FSF, you just become a non-voting Associate Member. Voting Members are a separate, and much smaller, category of member.