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Freenode staff members quit network, accuse owner of exploiting data

Freenode, an IRC network owned by Andrew Lee, is seeing the mass resignation of staff members as they accuse the network owner of exploiting the IRC server’s data.

Christian, also known as Fuchs on the Freenode network is among the staff members who resigned. His resignation letter noted:

"A couple of years ago, christel, now former head of freenode staff
sold `freenode ltd` (a holding company) to a third party, 
Andrew Lee[1], under terms that have not been disclosed to the staff body.
This was done, from what we were informed, to organize our freenode 
#live conferences, that required a legal body.
We were repeatedly promised, by both christel and Andrew Lee, 
that neither the holding nor Andrew Lee would have any operational impact 
on freenode the IRC network. We gladly forwarded this to our users,
who were understandably concerned as well.

In the past few weeks, this has changed[2], and the existance of a legal threat
to freenode has become apparent. We cannot know the substance of this legal
threat as it contains some kind of gag order
preventing its broader discussion within staff.
The democratically elected heads of their respective teams, 
development, infrastructure, projects and communities
were removed by force[3] and have been informed that they are not 
entitled to act in their respective capacity.
As a result, Mr Lee wants and partially has operational control
over the freenode IRC network now. 
This goes against my personal values, beliefs and rules,
this goes against what we have been doing for the past 10 years, 
this goes against our promises to our users and communities. 

Due to a leak of a personal resignation letter draft, 
Andrew Lee learned of the situation and asked democratically elected
freenode volunteers to step down from their position, as seen in the 
logs linked on [4] [5] [6]
Included in these logs are also logs from third party users that show 
that associates from Mr Lee, namely the user rdv, contacted 
various people and offered them oper access on the new network 
for money or revenge. It sickens me to the stomach to see our community 
that we built in the last 20 years to be lost to this kind of management. 
As you can imagine, the community was unhappy as well and we got loads
of feedback. Thank you very much, this means a lot to us. We've also seen
channel ops standing up to the potential new management, see e.g. [7]

This really means a lot to us, but unfortunately reality sometimes looks 
different, especially when lawyers and potential lawsuits were involved. 
A contract in which christel, former head of staff, allegedly sold freenode, surfaced.
And while I personally think that this would have neither included any servers
or code or user data, since that did not belong to christel to sell, I am not a lawyer
and apparently some of our volunteers got pressured very hard and their personal life
could have been ruined easily should we have fought against this apparent contract."

Another staff member who goes by the name 'Kline' wrote that: "We're really sorry it's had to come to this, and horrified that someone we knew and trusted violated that trust to sell your (and our) data and communities from under us."

While Freenode has been long criticized by its users for being less tolerant compared to other networks, it seems that this is yet another blunder that is going to decrease popularity of Freenode.

Freenode at this time, with more than 80,000 users, continues to remain the most populated IRC server.





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