Um, Android *is* open source, right, Google?

Google's Android gaffe seems to indicate that the company doesn't fully grok open source yet.

One of the fundamental freedoms of open source is the right to view source code. This freedom is at the heart of open-source security.

It's therefore discouraging, as Techdirt notes, to see Google criticizing Charlie Miller, a security researcher, for revealing a security flaw in its open-source Android platform. Indeed, as CNET reports , Google went a step further and claimed the researcher broke "unwritten rules" in disclosing the flaw.

Huh? Isn't that what open source is all about?

Imagine what would happen to Linux, Apache, MySQL, or other open-source projects if developers followed Google's counsel and stopped reporting bugs, security flaws, etc.

It's possible that Google didn't like Miller's motives or the way in which he announced the flaw, as some have suggested, but in open source form follows function. The "function" is disclosure of code. The form of disclosure? Well, that's a secondary concern.

Google should be grateful for the review Miller and others are giving its Android code. This is how open source improves.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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