On Monday, Computer scientist and free software advocate Richard Stallman stepped down from the Free Software Foundation board of directors.
“The board will be conducting a search for a new president, beginning immediately,” Stallman backed foundation said in a blog post.
In parallel, he also resigned from his position as a visiting scientist at MIT Computer Science and AI division (CSAIL).
In the email sent to MIT, also published on his blog, Stallman wrote, “To the MIT Community, I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT.”
“I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.”
Stallman’s departure from both the organizations comes after he described the victims of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as “entirely willing” in one of the email threads sent to the MIT department.
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The emails were made public last week by MIT alum Selam Jie Gano. Since then, his comments on such a sensitive issue have gathered a lot of criticism.
Stallman and Free Software Foundation
Richard Stallman, aka RMS, started the non-profit foundation in 1983 with a belief that users can and should be able to use, modify and share programs freely.
Further down the line, Stallman and others were able to build one of the biggest free operation systems known as GNU/Linux. FSF also developed the GNU General Public License (GPL) that is used to authorize free software projects.
Over the years, Stallman has been seen as a strong advocate for free and software. He has also been a long-time Microsoft critic because of the company’s history favoring proprietary software.
In fact, Stallman has created an entire series of blog posts on different tech companies, including Netflix, Slack, Google, Intel, etc.. He focuses on the reasons, mostly related to free software, for not using their services.
But recently, Stallman made it to the headlines by giving a talk under Microsoft’s roof.
Speaking of FSF, it remains to be seen what impact Stallman’s resignation will make on the Foundation and the future of free software movement.