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Sirius Open Source Pays the Price for Many Years of Criminal Behaviour

Video download link | md5sum 54b92623f894a04b61343f93c5d75ba5
Sirius Corruption Roundup
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The crimes committed by my last employer are becoming very apparent and crystal clear to see; meanwhile there are other crime victims coming out of the woodwork and we shall give them a voice, not just further information

THE Sirius ‘Open Source’ series is being followed closely by a lot of people. It’s routinely mentioned in Techrights and Tux Machines, even my personal site for more important topics/aspects.

Many people are impacted by this issue, even if one person is more vocal about it (I’m fortunate to have a platform in which I can speak about this). For the sake of geeks, and for human/labour rights (or “tech rights”), we need to expose what happened in the company I knew from the inside for nearly 12 years. We have lots left to publish and plenty is still being investigated (several things are always being investigated in parallel).

As the a video above notes upfront, I didn’t expect to cover any criminal aspects, but while doing the first batch I stumbled upon anomalies and started contacting authorities, companies, former colleagues etc. It didn’t take long to realise what sort of hydra we had all along dealt with; many workers were robbed and bullied, but the company threatened people not to speak about it with colleagues. Well, enough is enough and the ‘dirty laundry’ will come out. The world needs to see a workplace that isn’t just toxic but also corrupt. Many insiders (back then) didn’t realise the scale of the abuse, but they realised this afterwards or are coming to realise it now (with more facts being made publicly available). The company must have had several hundreds of workers over the years (if one counts associates and partners, maybe 300) and quite a few of them got burned. They’re not alone anymore and accountability will be pursued. The CEO of the company ran away last month, but he too cannot hide. He’s still in the UK, hiding in his ‘tax shell’ (registered at the address of the accountant). At the moment we explore all the legal avenues; exposing what was in the NDA (signed with the Gates Foundation when staff was compelled to sign a new contract in a likely illegal fashion) would be a cherry on the cake. Maybe there will also be arrests, but that can take a long time. That’s OK. We have patience. The facts are on our side.

A Tale of Bossware-at-Home in Company That Rejected Free Software

Video download link | md5sum 9a90a5de7aacd9fc4b8847cf61321f6a
When Sirius Abandoned Jabber for Bossware
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ generally rejected… Open Source. Today’s focus was the migration to Slack.

THE above video discusses the migration/transition/downgrade from Jabber to a truly terrible, centralised, proprietary and vulnerable platform known as Slack. Aside from technical problems and various glaring limitations, Slack was a risk not just to Sirius ‘Open Source’ but also to its clients.

No matter the hard evidence and how much I pointed this out (maybe a dozen times, at personal risk), that always fell on deaf ears. The company was already governed by incompetent people.

It was abundantly clear that many colleagues did not like this. Some opposed this. Some faced disciplinary action for antagonising. That would include me. So in a company called “Open Source” we’re meant to assume that adopting proprietary software — and not because some client requires it — is considered acceptable. Whereas insisting on the company’s values is considered an offense.

From what we can gather, Red Hat staff was subjected to similar treatment after IBM had bought the company. It’s hard to believe that later this year it will be 5 years since that announcement.

Sirius Corporation Was Never the Same After Bill Gates Gave Money to the Boss Through a Newly-Created Shell in the US (First Client, Deal Signed Under a Non-Disclosure Agreement!)

Video download link | md5sum 8a72a6b59521aa3f57a2d3c616edc3af
Sirius Became as Dodgy as It Gets
Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

Summary: A look at half a dozen posts published here yesterday, ranging from security failures to dodgy business practices and status (or several shells registered and accommodated under false pretences)

THE past few years at Sirius ‘Open Source’ were somewhat horrifying not just to me personally; we’ve already shown some hard evidence that colleagues suffered abuse from managers only months after a new shell in the US had bagged money from the Gates Foundation at a very mysterious time (we explained this mystery yesterday). My wife suffered similar abuse — something which according to Tim Bray has some history when it comes to Microsoft.

The video above shows some very dodgy things the company (its management) was doing and saying in recent years. The video limits itself to stuff we covered in the past 24 hours alone. Later this month we’ll provide more detailed and ample evidence.

While it’s totally unclear whether there’s a correlation between the Gates money and the way the company was managed (denial would definitely be possible and there’s an NDA) the reality of the matter is, Sirius was gradually moving away from Free software — including infrastructure it had already had for more than a decade! In turn, the company was becoming several shells (at least 3) and at the moment everything is registered with some accountants rather than a real address of a director or an office.

This series will hopefully become a cautionary tale not just about openwashing companies (or formerly Free software companies). A lot of these things can happen and do occasionally happen in other “IT” companies. It’s important to know when to leave.

Isolated and Gagged Workers at Sirius ‘Open Source’

Don't mind vicious boss; I will always remember

Summary: Staff of Sirius ‘Open Source’ still remembers how badly managers have treated workers in the past 4 years while keeping them isolated, sometimes even gagged

IN yesterday’s video (“Sirius Open Source Uses ‘Privacy’ as a Weapon Against Truth-tellers (Can’t Speak Outside Work)”) we sought to highlight endless hypocrisy and disproportionate powers managers gave themselves. It was not about leadership but about control. Those aren’t the same thing. Leaders motivate people, but the managers Sirius attracted in recent years are power-hungry and don’t know how to manage power; they get drunk on power. Some lack actual experience in management; no, babysitting toddlers or being an assistant of an assistant doesn’t substitute training and experience at leadership. Companies would struggle to compel adults to be managed by babysitters. Programmers and sysadmins are grownups, not toddlers.

The managers at Sirius gradually become insecure, knowing they’re not just unqualified for the job but are in fact failing at their job. Then they try to stop staff from talking about the issues (failures that repeat themselves, e.g. pension contributions not being paid). Then start bullying, intimidation etc. It begets spying and dirt-digging, even habitual insults (like aimlessly accusing staff of “cooking” without any evidence whatsoever; as noted in the last part’s meme, based on a real quote). If managers start falsely accusing staff, then the principal objective is humiliation, hoping to cause guilt and render people more submissive. That never works!

Then come impediments against dialogue. Staff is divided so as to make people feel isolated. Let’s use an example. In a grievance letter posted (reproduced) here last month, a colleague explained that people who work overnight are already isolated and feeling alone. Why add insult to injury?

Then comes suppression of speech in general, like claiming the clients and colleagues deserve total privacy (in practice, it is about censorship), even outside work where they’re mentioned not by name, yet the same people who claim this are engaging in overt acts of surveillance against staff, even outside work.

This hypocritical behaviour is also used by the EPO to basically say that staff cannot speak to one another because of “privacy”, even if the conversations are about managers’ corruption. They misuse “privacy” for cover-up. Privacy is no excuse for those who are committing crimes or engaging in all sorts of wrongdoing.

The icing on the cake is, such rogue management engages in chronic lying while bullying staff and innocent people are warned not to speak to colleagues (“divide and rule”) while managers are spying on everybody. This is all about double-standards. To put it in simple terms, a boss may allege that staff is violating privacy of people and the boss builds this allegation by violating the privacy of the accused.

Sirius has quite a tradition like this. It effectively banned staff conversations in Freenode (outside work), way back in its glory days, not in 2022. It’s as if colleagues cannot have a personal life and cannot socialise outside the workplace.

As a reminder, a decade ago the company resorted to shutting down the company’s own Jabber server, very likely to prevent workers’ solidarity/empathy towards a colleague… or even the ability to find out what had happened.

Sirius created a self-defeating culture wherein people are talking to one another inside the train to avoid detection for fear of committing the “crime” of speaking to co-workers about facts (like bosses doing unethical things, including lying, cheating, engaging in extreme nepotism… like bringing 3 sexual partners to the company in spite of a lack of relevant qualifications).

Sirius is no longer unique in the sense that after COVID-19 lock-downs many people still don’t commute to work and still don’t meet colleagues in person (or seldom do). Generally speaking, when people work from home, and they’re each based in a distant town, they can’t easily meet “down the pub” and have in-person chat, so if conversations outside the spying network of the company are frowned upon, and if spyware becomes the norm, how is staff supposed to be properly informed? Trusting liars? How can a union ever be formed? As we shall show later, the company pretends to be open to the concept of a staff union, but that’s just a convenient lie.

The company goes out of its way to prevent and impede communication between workers, usually by means of blackmail/threats. How unhealthy a work atmosphere! For instance, staff is not permitted to know if someone is investigated or disciplined and similarly staff being bullies is explicitly forbidden from talking about this to anybody. This poses a threat to people’s health and safety. The company knows that, but it does not care. People are isolated and asked not to cooperate with their colleagues. It’s not limited to “bollocking” inside the company as the same goes for salaries, work status etc. Sirius is just a very secretive company that misuses the name “Open Source” and conceals the operational aspects. It’s proprietary, intransparent, and truly dishonest. It lies about its very own people when it suits the managers. As a result, colleagues are just vanishing without anyone bothering to explain why (skeletons in the closet), we have had colleagues that say they’re under de facto gag order and cannot talk about what they know, and it starts to resemble Life Is Beautiful where nobody can speak about the gas in the showers. People just vanish, no more questions…

The workplace inevitably becomes very mentally unhealthy; as we’ll show later this month, it becomes physically unhealthy too (some colleagues got diarrhoea from the stress). These tactics of isolation are being resisted, as colleagues occasionally reach out to one another, even people who are working from home. Their safety net does not come from “leaders” but from peers. The leaders are correctly perceived as dictators, who aren’t to be trusted with anything. There’s no comforting shoulder. This should not be considered standard business practice, but this is where Sirius was heading just to ensure workers were always disadvantaged, underpaid, mistreated, falsely accused. They cannot unite, they can barely even form a coalition through which to negotiate with management. Things were so out of hand in Sirius that even to have a colleague as a witness would require prior permission from management so that the management can ‘tamper’ with the person a priori (like issuing warnings or curtail freedom of expression).

The tactics employed in 2022 began to resemble authoritarian regimes and aggressive cops, more so towards the end of the year; relatives were being kept as pawns and false accusations thrown while distorting facts. Managers very well understand that scaring workers won’t make them productive; au contraire — it leads to misery.

We’ve seen these things before. At the EPO, for instance, the union (SUEPO) explained how a spouse needed to come to the Office to pick up her husband after he had suffered a mental breakdown (due to ruthless ‘investigation’). We’ll soon show that Sirius too employed a kind of Reid method/technique, which is controversial and likely illegal. This was done to Aaron Swartz.

One colleague used to joke that the company’s slogan, “stress-free technology”, took no account of how workers felt. Workers had no real voice in the company. They were barely consulted about important things.

Unfortunately, SUEPO uses the same Microsoft spyware that EPO management uses, probably because of the “installed based” (number of workers who already have that set up). But since [cref 141348 Microsoft colludes with the EPO] they can undermine communications, spy, and worse. We’ve repeatedly said that a union using the “bossware” of the boss, controlled by a truly hostile corporation, isn’t a good idea.

The reason we are writing these detailed reports is clear to those who have had similar experiences in their career. It’s important because workers would be empowered if they could identify emergent patterns of technological oppression and then respond them them, equipped with knowledge of the law in their country. Don’t let people be subjected to that; don’t be subjected to that yourself. Workers aren’t supposed to be pointed at for doing perfectly lawful things, even if their bosses aren’t happy about those things. That can lead to conflicts in one’s mind, with questions arising like, “are they telling the truth? Am I overrating or overthinking?”

Remember that sociopaths and pathological liars do this as a matter of routine; they’ve mastered all these tricks and they keep using them again and again.

The staff, they hope, may remains defenseless after all the gaslighting; when you stop receiving actual information and get fed disinformation from management, repeatedly even (and you might even start to believe it!) you may eventually lose a sense of reality.

In my personal case, working backwards to figure out where and why it started, it seems like management truly hated how I scrutinised a contract they had wanted us to sign without any legal advice, challenging the legality of it and even considering a lawyers’ consultation (advice can take weeks unless it is treated urgently).

One can assume that managers were maybe worried other people (like colleagues) would realise what’s going on and follow suit.

That’s when one manager was starting a malicious, vicious, baseless witch-hunt that backfired so badly. We’ll give more details about this later.

The portion of the report below talks about the awful, centralised, outsourced telephony system, the “timetracker” which everyone hated (except bosses who exempted themselves), and the aftermath of these misguided moves, which not only harmed the company but lowered morale. The timetracker was so counterproductive that it was quietly dropped, for the second time, a few years ago. It was more about surveillance than productivity or timekeeping.


The company ought to remove the term “Open Source” from its name; the company has presence only in proprietary platforms but none in “Open Source” ones, except maybe “legacy” systems from the “old” Sirius era. Over time it’s gravitating towards 100% proprietary, but people who run the company cannot even distinguish, so explaining the issue can be an exercise in futility. To give just recent examples, Sirius moved to a system of telephony that did not work and did so even faster as a result of it not working (example of extreme incompetence), resulting in poor service to clients that could previously make contact effortlessly. This document won’t name the systems, but it’s clear that improving the ability to answer calls or communicate was not a priority. ‘Freebies’ from Google aren’t free; they’re only temporarily available ‘free samples’.

To cite an older example, all the staff hated the timetracker and hilariously enough those who imposed it on staff refused to do the timetracker routines themselves. When challenged on this (highly hypocritical behaviour that harms morale), one of them sobbed and went away, unable to actually justify this arrogant ego trip (imposing unwanted things on people vastly more qualified). The person who sobbed later messed up the salaries (many times), then did not respond for months when question on the matter. This resulted in financial harm. The person responsible for this error was never reprimanded or punished, neither for these mistakes nor for failing to respond, which is very typical in today’s Sirius management, even the CEO lying about not receiving E-mails.

No wonder lots of workers left. Those who did not leave constantly face abuse and are being silenced. Dissent in Sirius isn’t being dealt with by grown-ups. No wonder associates were openly mocking the CEO for being non-technical and for writing face-saving cruft to clients. In fact, it seems like a lot of people either left or became cynical about the company. Those who stayed (and remains cynical) are now being maliciously targeted and it is truly sad to say that the company became a bit of a hoax, as it is neither about Open Source nor caring about the devoted staff that made many personal compromises, only pretending to care in very shallow ways like annual vouchers (worth less than one shift).

Sirius Open Source Has Long Been Blind to Criticism

Sirius shown to the public as women-friendly a decade ago

Sirius 'Open Source' in 2012

Summary: Sirius ‘Open Source’ was taken to court after it had wrongly fired a couple of employees, one of whom was blind; this was accompanied by lies about why the staff’s communication server was shut down

THE year was 2011 or thereabouts. Sirius hired a kind German lady, was also completely blind. Colleagues were happy to help, but clients were not being informed that she was blind and management feared that clients might find out that she was blind. A year or two later she was fired and simply ‘vanished’; nobody was allowed to talk about that.

This, among other incidents, is an example of a ruthless company that does not tolerate staff dialogue and relies on secrecy (or clients being blind to what really goes on). The relevant part of the report is below.


Blindness to Criticism

The foundations of the company need to be protected, not the personal agenda of pertinent, individual workers and/or cliques/factions of workers. Lack of communication blinds us to our weaknesses. Over a decade ago when the company-wide Jabber server was disabled (probably to prevent unity and sympathy among staff) workers’ ability to interact with colleagues was curtailed, leaving everyone in a position where supporting clients was a lot harder. The widespread belief at the time was that the server was intentionally offline (nobody wanted to talk about it, let alone lie) because the company faced a lawsuit from a couple wrongly accused/dismissed (at least one of them). Roy and Rianne have supported blind people’s charities for nearly a decade already, so recalling how the company treated a blind colleague, likely an innocent colleague, is a bit of deja vu in light of later sections of this document. Roy and Rianne poured in a portion of their income (received monthly from Sirius) into blind people’s charities after the company, Sirius, had unfairly dismissed a legally blind — and much-liked among her colleagues — vulnerable lady.

Sirius was not always criticised or fearful of criticism, certainly not as a whole (criticising one particular aspect of Sirius is not the same as just rejecting Sirius as a whole). In fact the company used to boast true transparency (also full access to the wiki, which Roy helped manage/install), like telling workers not only which clients were paying but also how much they were paying (so it was possible to understand the commercial side of things). In some sense, workers felt connected to the company, not left out to hang. Internal presentations in the company, or even the habitual workshop, gave all workers a lot of information. The accountant and other people met staff in person, offering good advice on a number of things. Not much was outsourced or left behind walled gardens.

Things have changed a lot since then.

Mastodon is Free Software, But It Does Not Respect Free Speech (Updated)

This is what I get when I log in

Mastodon oops

SO-called ‘social networks’ (I’ve coined the term “social control networks” for these) are supposed to facilitate a diversity of views. Not threats. Not calls for genocide. These strands of ‘speech’ constitute violations of very particular laws and for defensible reasons. But the point being, let people express their views, even if and when you disagree with these views.

I am not vulgar, I don’t really curse, and I don’t write negatively about vulnerable groups; my criticisms are usually directed at large organisations, institutions, corporations, political parties and so on. I never really considered myself worthy of censorship of any kind, yet Twitter has, on several occasions, shadowbanned me for no reason at all or simply because I was being bullied (shadowban by algorithms can lead to that). Time-limited shadowbans are not so severe because the user is typically not aware of them and can still post (albeit the audience is severely limited, it’s almost like talking to oneself sometimes).

Twitter, to its credit, never ever suspended me. Ever. The funny thing is that people in Mastodon say that I should delete Twitter and not participate in it. Eventually, as it turns out, it’s actually Mastodon that censors me. It’s an actual suspension for which I have not been given reason other than some people reporting me (as if that alone merits action, DMCA-style).

I am guessing that the suspension will eventually be undone, but that may still result in self-censorship. I was actually very surprised when it happened and spent over an hour investigating what I assumed to be a technical fault. The above says “error”; it does not tell me that I got suspended.

As Mastodon has just suspended me (mastodon.technology to be precise), I believe it can do it to virtually anyone. Apparently all it takes is a complaint citing something from the rather vague ToS, which can be interpreted as “don’t cause people offense” (or make an “oppressive” environment — whatever exactly that may mean). Even without insulting any other user — let alone a mention of another user — one’s views/links can apparently get one the ‘boot’, without as little as due process of some kind.

Mastodon was always known to be tough on Nazis; it was known that they were strict on free speech only to a degree. After the treatment that I received yesterday, however, I can no longer recommend Mastodon. It may be Free software, but it’s very weak on free speech.

The most insulting thing about all this is that I wrote many hundreds of toots/tweets/other in favour of Mastodon, urging people to join. I also wrote a lot in that platform and had amicable conversations there. To be treated this poorly by Mastodon admins hurts somewhat.

Update:

Mastodon Censored Me for a Long Time, They Just Found an Excuse to Ban Me As Well

So, after an E-mail exchange it turned out they had been silencing my posts for a long time, simply because of volume (people alerted me about this omission of posts, but I foolishly chose to believe it was due to a software bug) and it all ended when, totally out of the blue, I got banned without them even informing me (again, making it all look like a technical error/glitch, which I spent a long time trying to diagnose). The trigger was used was “Islamophobia” — I presume a link to some news article whose content someone found to be offensive. Everything was done to avoid showing me that they had been censoring me for a long time, albeit quietly.

There’s a lot at stake for me: Losing thousands of connections (people), tens of thousands of posts and replies, and no migration option (I cannot even log in to export anything!). They’re suppressing speech and then canning me, in spite of me being among the most popular users.

Identi.ca did something similar 4.5 years ago, though it was not censorship but merely a migration that nuked everyone’s posts.

Cyber Security a Matter of Life and Death Sometimes

CIA interference

If CIA blows up GAS PIPES BECAUSE RUSSIA CAN IT COMPLAIN about pipe bombs BECAUSE TERROR?

When oil rigs/platforms sink (recall this incident) a lot of people die. When gas pipes explode a lot of people can die as well. In the case of BP, Microsoft Windows was at least partly to blame for the incident (I wrote about this many times at Techrights) and the above, just (re)published by Wikileaks, makes one wonder where the US derives its moral high ground from. This shows the importance of using software one can truly control and always trust, such as Free/Libre software.

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