CWA without Google +++ International development cooperation +++ KDE interview

press at press at
Wed Dec 16 17:43:08 UTC 2020

 = CWA without Google +++ International development cooperation +++ KDE interview =

[ Read online: ]

In our December Newsletter, read about the German Corona Warn App being
published independently to extend software freedom, learn about public
code in international development cooperation, enjoy an interview with
Cord-Landwehr from KDE about REUSE adoption, one about the Zurich local
group receiving a DINACon award and much more.

 == German Corona tracing app available without Google services ==

Christian Grigis, Fynn Godau, Marcus Hoffmann and Marvin Wißfeld
achieved what official bodies have been missing for months: They have
made available the German "Corona Warn App" (CWA) for tracing Covid-19
risk contacts in a version that is completely free of dependencies on
Google and is available in F-Droid, the Free Software app store.

Initial release of the CWA was in June and the FSFE's demand that any
Corona tracking app must be used voluntarily and be Free Software [1]
has been followed. However, the implemented exchange of device keys via
Bluetooth, on the basis of which the risk is calculated, is handled by
an underlying interface called Exposure Notifications API, which was,
significantly, developed by Apple and Google and was largely
proprietary. One also had to use proprietary Google Play Services or the
iTunes store to install it.

So while on the one hand we were satisfied that the publicly funded CWA
has been released as Free Software, we raised the question what is all
this freedom worth if the solution depends on third-party proprietary
blobs? [2] And if one has to use proprietary software to install them?

 === Indepently published in F-Droid ===

A first major improvement towards fixing this issue was provided by Free
Software developer and FSFE supporter Marvin Wißfeld [3] in September.
He built the exposure notification functionality into microG [4], a Free
Software implementation of the proprietary Google services. This allowed
at least people who owned a Google-free Android phone [5] and had microG
installed to use various Corona apps.

A few days ago, Christian Grigis, Fynn Godau, Marcus Hoffmann and Marvin
Wißfeld went one step farther. They integrated the exposure notification
component of microG directly into the German Corona Warn App [6]. This
so-called Drop-In-Replacement enables even people who have neither the
Google services nor their Free Software alternative microG installed, to
use the CWA. They also made the app available on F-Droid [7], an app
store with exclusively Free Software.

We would like to thank all persons involved who made the use of the CWA
in Germany possible without having to accept any loss of software
freedom. Furthermore, the FSFE appeals to governments and
administrations to publish developed software as Free Software, to break
dependencies on Google's and Apple's app stores and instead make their
apps installable from independent sources like F-Droid and to renounce
proprietary dependencies.

 == FSFE demands public code in international development cooperation ==

International development cooperation is increasingly digitised. Whether
in agriculture, industrial production, health care or public
administration, the development and maintenance of modern social
processes is no longer conceivable without software. Free Software thus
is becoming a fundamental technology to reach the United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals. International development cooperation
strives to achieve the UN sustainability goals by improving global
conditions and the empowering of local partners. As in the case of
Software Freedom in general, in international development cooperation
existing dependencies should be reduced and new dependencies avoided at
all costs.

Together with experts in the field, the FSFE summarises these
interrelations in an article [8] and demands that publicly funded
software in international development cooperation be published as Free
Software [9].


Start the new year as a supporter of the Free Software Foundation Europe


 == Upcoming events ==

- Together with many other civil (digital) rights organisations, the
  FSFE forms the cluster "about:freedom" [11] during the annual Chaos
  Communication Congresses, which have come to be among the biggest
  hacking-related events in Europe. The event takes place from the 27th
  to the 30th of December. The schedule is not yet final but there will
  be many talks about various topics regarding software freedom. From
  the FSFE staffers, Lucas Lasota speaks about "Net neutrality 2.0:
  Router Freedom and device neutrality in Europe".

- Our Pre-FOSDEM events [12] in the recent years have been highly
  successful thanks to your contributions. Now we will go one step
  further: integrate our fruitful exchange directly into FOSDEM! We are
  therefore pleased to announce that we will co-organise the upcoming
  Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom at FOSDEM 2021 [13]. The event will
  take place online and we are looking forward to your exciting
  submissions. The Call for Participation [14] is running until 20
  December 2020.

 == PMPC Video in Dutch ==

FSFE supporters from the Netherlands created a Dutch video translation
of the popular Public Money? Public Code! campaign video. After a sneak
preview on the 25th of November in the Netherlands online get-together,
you can now watch it yourself [15].

Nico Rikken, the FSFE coordinator Netherlands who mainly coordinated the
project, wrote a detailed blog-post about the whole process [16] - from
subtitle translation to the audio recording to its final editing and
mastering. Nico wrote it for your curiosity but also for you to pick it
up: /"I wrote this blogpost, to encourage you to do it too and save you
time by suggesting a methodology. In the process I learned some new
skills and got to use some free software that was new to me."/

With the Dutch version, the Public Money? Public Code! campaign video is
now translated and audio-dubbed in seven languages (DE, EN, FR, IT, NL,
PT, RU) and subtitled in nine languages (DE, EN, ES, FR, IT, NL, PT, SK,
RU). If you would like to see your language added to the list, get in
contact with Nico or the FSFE.

 == What have we done? Inside and outside the FSFE ==

- In just three years, our REUSE initiative [17] has successfully
  changed licensing practices of over five hundred projects. In 2020 one
  of the biggest and oldest Free Software projects, the well-known KDE
  community, included REUSE in their licensing policy and migrated all
  their frameworks to the recommended standard. We took this opportunity
  to speak with Andreas Cord-Landwehr, development engineer at KDE,
  about REUSE adoption in the KDE community [18].

- In 2019, the FSFE's local group in Zurich launched the "Learn like the
  pros" campaign [19]. The goal of the campaign is to present solutions
  for the use of Free Software in education. Recently, the campaign was
  awarded the DINACon Special Award. On this occasion, we interviewed
  the local coordinators Ralf Hersel and Gian-Maria Daffré [20] about
  the background and the success of this campaign.

- On the 25th of November the European Parliament adopted the resolution
  "Towards a more sustainable single market for business and consumers"
  [21] in which they call on the Commission "to establish a consumers’
  ‘right to repair". The document acknowledges the problems of software
  obsolescence as a limitation to hardware's life-time longevity.
  Unfortunately, the document misses the chance to tackle the problem
  with solutions offered by Free Software licensing, e.g. the obligation
  to freely license software code after its support ends. The FSFE will
  follow the process and raise its voice for software freedom as a means
  towards a more sustainable IT.

 == From the Planet ==

- Bdale Garbee looks back on a long history of debian packaging and
  encourages other Debian package maintainers with the right skills and
  motivation to consider adopting some of his packages [22].

- Albert Astals Cid shows and explains software obsolescence he
  experienced with his Android phone OnePlus2 and how he solved it using
  the CustomROM LineageOS [23].

- Sebastian Schauenburg writes about his favorite terminals [24] and how
  he solved a bug for the st terminal emulator.

 == Get Active: 20 years of FSFE ==

This time we do not have a particular get active item for you but a
general reminder that next year we shall have had 20 years of FSFE and
we would like to celebrate that with you. So watch our news. There will
be some interesting backgrounds on the FSFE's history. We will introduce
you to some of our well-established community members and also dig into
past success stories as well as some funny fails we made. In particular
watch out for the several participative campaigns we are planning; we
look forward to seeing many of you taking part.

 == Call to apply for FSFE support for your local project ==

We are currently running our second call for FSFE community projects
[25]. We happily support you with our expertise, our information
material, our networks, or even financially. Participating is as simple
as filling out a short online form [26] until 10 January 2021.

Among the successful applications in the last round is,
which we support with promotion, a new logo, stickers, and a microphone
set for their regular podcast. Another project we will support is
Freedombox install events, which we will support with premises. If you
need support for a FSFE community project, don't hesitate to apply.

 == Contribute to our newsletter ==

If you would like to share any thoughts, pictures, or news, please send
them to us. As always, the address is newsletter at We are
looking forward hearing from you!

If you also want to support us and our work, join our community and
support us with a donation or a monthly contribution [27].

Thanks to our community and all the volunteers [28], supporters [29],
and donors [30] who make our work possible. And thanks to our
translators [31], who enable you to read this newsletter in your native

Your editor, Erik Albers


Support us with your donation [32]


Discuss this [33]

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