FSFE Newsletter - August 2013
press at fsfeurope.org
press at fsfeurope.org
Tue Aug 6 12:10:08 CEST 2013
= FSFE Newsletter - August 2013 =
[Read online: http://fsfe.org/news/nl/nl-201308.html ]
== Proprietary companies ask European Commission to restrict business
Because Android is Free Software and gratis, the non-free software
competition cannot compete with it, therefore the market has less
alternatives, thus the consumer suffers from this lack of competition.
In a nutshell that is the argumentation of the so-called "Fair Search"
coalition. Essentially they are asking the European Commission to favour
a restrictive business model over a liberal one, which is exactly the
opposite of what competition regulators should do in order to achieve a
Asking the European Commission to cripple Free Software in order to
allow proprietary vendors to sell their locked-down systems is absurd.
Therefore the FSFE has written a letter to the European Commission's
competition authorities to refute the claims, and make it clear that
Free Software is critical for a competitive IT market. In our letter we
ask the European Commission to dismiss the "FairSearch" coalition's
unfounded claims regarding predatory pricing, and not make them part of
whatever steps it decides to take. For further information: our legal
council Carlo Piana wrote a background article about this case.
== Election software: source code available but not Free Software ==
Estonia has used Internet voting for general elections since 2005. Local
activists have recently managed to convince Estonia's National Electoral
Committee (NEC) to release source code for some of the software under a
non-free licence, but this licence does not permit distribution of
derivative works or commercial use and therefore is non-free. Besides
"[i]mportant system components remain completely unknown to the general
public. One of those components is the client side voting application
that must be loaded and executed on the voter's computer," said Heiki
Ojasild, Fellowship representative in the FSFE's General Assembly in our
press release accompanying our open letter to NEC regarding the
country's Internet voting system.
Similar in Norway: Paul Boddie reports about the Norwegian voting and
the illusion of "Open Source", where the published software covers
only "testing, reviewing or evaluating the code", restricts commercial
purposes, and for a lot of things you need a "written approval" from the
== NSA leaks motivates Free Software activists ==
For almost two decades the Free Software Foundations have been working
for a society where the power over technology is distributed. We work
for a world in which nobody can prevent others from learning how
computers work. A world in which programmers can work with each other
instead against each other. Nobody should be forced to use a certain
kind of software without being able to adjust it to her own needs
instead of adjusting herself to the software. Everybody should be able
to audit software, to understand what a program does exactly and what
happens to your data.
The Free Software movement wrote a lot of software which respects your
privacy, including encryption and anonymisation software. The FSFE
pushed for Open Standards to prevent monopolies by enabling different
software to work with each other. We promote decentralised systems, so
there is no single point in our infrastructure which has too much power
and which enables you to store the data in a trusted enviroment.
It seems the NSA leaks of the last weeks have strengthened the Free
Software community's will to continue fighting for our freedoms in a
digital society. More people are listening to Free Software programmers
and activists, more people demand Free Software solutions, more people
are using Free Software to protect their privacy, and more people
appreciate Free Software developer's work. E.g. Eva Galperin from EFF
said in her keynote at KDE's conference akademy: "Help us Free
Software, you are our last and only hope". She asked Free Software
developers to build new products, and "save us"! And as you will see
below, the Free Software movement will continue to do so.
== Something completely different ==
- Privacy is a fundamental human right, and is central to maintaining
democratic societies. The FSFE joined more than 100 other
organisations in demanding that states respect human rights, and bring
their surveillance apparatus under democratic control. More than
one year in the making, the demands are now more relevant than ever.
The FSFE also signed an Open Letter to stop surveillance, which
calls for twelve political steps including the development and
promotion of Free Software for digital self-defence.
- The FSFE commented on leaked documents which show how Microsoft is
actively cooperating with the NSA.
- Together with the Open Rights Group we sent an open letter on
transparency to Martin Schulz, President of the European
Parliament. Mr Schulz has recently been asked to produce a study
on transparency within the Parliament. In our letter we are offering
Mr Schulz our help in this effort and suggest several questions, e.g.
if the Parliament would be obliged to publish the source code of the
software it uses.
- News about Free Software in education are back: Guido Arnold
summarised what happened in the education sector during April,
May, and June. He also summarised the relevant parts of the UNESO
conference World Summit on an Information Society (WSIS+10).
- Ubuntu is aiming to raise $32 million in crowdfunding to produce
Ubuntu Edge, a mobile computer that can dual-boot between Android and
Ubuntu GNU/Linux. Our sister organisation the FSF is asking the
crucial question: Will Ubuntu Edge commit to using only Free
Software?. Paul Boddie, Fellow and maintainer of Fellowship
wiki, looked into the question if Ubuntu Edge is making things
even harder for open hardware?
- Besides our sister organisation reports that the New Internationalist
adopted the DRM-free label and over 50 others were added to the
- From the public administrations: Students and teachers at 160 high
schools in the Brussels Region have started to use Free Software
like LibreOffice or Mozilla Thunderbird on PCs and tablets. Joinup
reports that France's ministry of Agriculture extensively uses Free
Software: For instance in 2012 it spent 174,000 euro on support
for Free Software. Additionally news from France: Lucile wrote about
the Zombie Free Software provision -- a Free Software law for
France's higher education -- and how to contact politicians.
- For those amongst you giving talks at conferences: LWN now offers a
handy calendar for call for papers.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Former FSFE president Georg Greve wrote a tetralogy about the Post
PRISM society. He puts together what actually has been proven so
far, what that means for society, what the implications for
businesses around the world are, and takes a look at
governments. He argues that any government should be able to
answer the following question: What is your policy on a sovereign
software supply and digital infrastructure? If that question cannot
be answered, he suggests it is time to get to work. And soon.
- FSFE's president Karsten Gerloff wrote about what you can do to
secure your communications, e.g. participating in politics,
- Werner Koch, author of GnuPG and FSFE GA member wrote about Gpg4win
and the feds, commenting on a CT article which mentions GnuPG
and claims that only a self compiled version is trustworthy.
- and Kevin Keijzer documented how he maintains his online
- Anonymisation hobbyist Jens Lechtenboerger explains how he selects
Tor guard nodes under global surveillance, and also publishing
code how he analysed the situation.
- A proposal for a new encrypted mobile messaging app called Hemlis
received $125,000 in crowdfunding. It is good to see ambitious new
software projects get support from the community when they are Free
Software. Sam Tuke checks if this is really the case with
- Viktor Horvath published the video from his talk at FOSDEM about
SlapOS a decentralised Free Software plattform.
- Lucile wrote about several examples of interesting uses of
transparency policies, related to Free Software especially for
person has been effectively coerced into accepting them? Other
questions about IT in universities are asked by Paul Boddie in
"Students: Beware of the Academic Cloud!"
- News from Martin Gollowitzer's "Tracking for Freedom" project:
he is now cycling with the pros.
- Mirko Böhm reports from his travel to Akademy and the Qt contributor
summit. Together with Armijn Hemel he started a process to make
defensive publications a routine part of the Qt release process,
- and Free Software activities in Munich have intensified. Christof
Kalkhoff and the Munich group now bought a pavilion to be present at
more and more public events (German).
== Get active: Help with Crypto parties! ==
Crypto parties are getting more popular. They also attract funding from
non-free software companies. One company offered money to crypto party
organisers if they also mention non-free software (German). Good
that a lot of FSFE's volunteers already support the organisers to help
people install encryption software, and educate participants about Free
In the Free Software community a lot of us understand how end-to-end
encryption works. At the moment a lot of people new to Free Software
want to use it themselves. If you have some time, either help some
friends, colleagues, or search for local crypto parties and show others
how to use GnuPG for e-mail encryption, OTR for encrypted chats, TOR to
anonymise your online behaviour or programs like Jitsi to have encrypted
audio and video communications.
Thanks to all the Fellows and donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE
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