In 2015, it was reported that the NSA runs its XKEYSCORE program — an application that The Intercept, the website run by journalist Glenn Greenwald, describes as NSA's Google for private communications — for the most part on Red Hat Linux servers.
Employees of other technology companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google have protested when their respective employers indulge in activities that are unethical. Microsoft employees recently protested against their employer's working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the wake of the agency's separation of migrant children from their parents at the Mexico-US border.
Workers at Amazon wrote to chief executive Jeff Bezos, telling him not to sell Rekognition facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies and to cancel the contract for hosting data-mining company Palantir on its cloud.
So why are Red Hat employees silent about their company's role in aiding the NSA to conduct surveillance on a sizeable proportion of the human race? After the disclosures by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, there is no lack of documentation about the ubiquitous nature of the snooping that goes on.
Given its inclination to turn a blind eye and pocket the NSA's cash, Red Hat went missing when 34 tech companies led by Microsoft — yes, that Microsoft — signed a pledge that they would refuse to join cyber attacks by nation-states against innocent citizens and businesses no matter where they are located.
Of course, there were others missing too – Google, Amazon and Apple did not put their names to the pledge, either.
But Red Hat claims to be different from companies that sell proprietary software. It bleats about its opennness whenever given the chance. During its annual summit, its Twitter feed is a deluge of self-righteousness.
Why, its chief executive Jim Whitehurst, one of the great bloviators of all time, has even written a book about the company titled The Open Organisation!
But the company will not tell the world why it continues to do business with the NSA. Nor will it say whether it supports blanket surveillance, which incidentally has been shown time and again to have absolutely no value when it comes to detecting potential terrorists or their plans.
Red Hat earns a tidy sum for every licence it sells to the NSA. The love of money, it has been said by someone somewhere — pardon me, my memory is not the best — is the root of all evil.
Sometimes being a company with a two-billion-plus dollars in turnover can result in the ranks becoming a little tone-deaf. That is what seems to have happened at Red Hat. Money, no matter how tainted the source, has become the only thing that matters.