FSFE Newsletter – August 2014
press at fsfeurope.org
press at fsfeurope.org
Mon Aug 4 20:00:22 CEST 2014
= FSFE Newsletter – August 2014 =
[ Read online: https://fsfe.org/news/nl/nl-201408.fi.html ]
== Privilege and Power ==
In the olden days a common citizen of a republic going about their
everyday business was quite, shall we say, free. While tending to their
chores they would occasionally need a new tool or some advice, but the
old Latin proverb /scientia potentia est/ dictated the limits of their
freedom to be the limits of their knowledge: if they needed a new tool
and lacked the knowledge to make it, they became dependent on the
toolmaker only to obtain the tool.
In the brave new world it is different: not only do we depend on the
toolmaker when we wish to obtain a new tool, but oft we remain dependent
on them forever after. In the olden days a hammer could be used both to
put stakes in the ground (or vampires) and nail planks atop the
vampire's coffin. Today, the customer buying a general purpose tool has
to pay twice for it: once to put stakes in the vampire and then again to
nail planks atop its coffin.
This is great if you happen to be one of the few toolmakers: not only
are they one of the few privileged to be in control of their own
property, but they have also stripped the rest of us of our rights and
have the power to command our tools and hence have the power over us.
Unfortunately, the privilege blinds them to the situation's
Times have not been kind and, in addition to the revolting consequences
of failed regulations and cold, unjust, profit-oriented business logic,
we have been treated with a revelation after a revelation of agencies
and offices founded to protect us, and subsequently given an impossible
mission, preying on us. These developments, while despicable, can at
least be rationally understood.
However, it cannot be rationally comprehended why our /democratically
elected representatives/ would seek to entrench these unfortunate
encroaches on our rights, on their own rights. Yet many of them do: the
European Commission is refusing to break Microsoft's stranglehold on the
EU and, as an even more deeply unsettling development, the
Communications Committee of the UK parliament's House of Lords has
proposed to end anonymity on the Internet.
If the danger to privacy and freedom were not so grave, the latter's
technical ineptitude and arguments utterly unsuitable to the birthplace
of liberalism would be highly amusing. Yet the danger posed by people
who have been corrupted by power or greed is real and our resolve to
confront that danger with more decentralization, security, privacy, and
anonymity must become ever greater.
== We are all Targets ==
According to new revelations from early July pretty much anyone in
the technological community is a target for surveillance. Among other
activities we have been, or will be picked out, for visiting the Tor
website, reading the Linux Journal, connecting to Mixminion
anonymous remailer service, and downloading Tails, a privacy-
sensitive GNU/Linux distribution. These sobering facts ought to be
remembered every hour, every day. In the end our greatest weapon is
developing and promoting projects that will one day land people
interested in them on that very same list.
== Something Completely Different ==
- FSFE will have a booth at FrOSCon, where our Vice President
Matthias Kirschner will also give a talk on the demise of the
general purpose computer.
- Our President Karsten Gerloff writes about evaluating Free
Software for procurement.
- Hugo Roy, our Deputy Legal Coordinator writes about defensive
publications and his work for the Open Invention network at his
- Matthias writes at his Fellowship blog about the invisible tasks
that are being attended to by Reinhard Müller, our Financial
- Guido Arnold, our Education Team Coordinator, has finished composing
his collection of Free Software in Education News for June.
- From the planet aggregation: Kevin Keijzer writes about
receiving TV using a DVB-T USB dongle. For our more
adventurous readers we suggest tuning the receiver to 1090 MHz and
obtaining an overview of the local civilian air air traffic as
reported by ADS-B transmitters on the aircraft.
- Sergey Matveev reports on the GoVPN daemon he wrote in the Go
== Get Active! ==
1. Use and spread the word about GnuPG, Off-the-Record
messaging, Tor, cryptsetup, HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy
Badger and other privacy-enhancing Free Software.
2. If you can write code and understand a bit of computer science, find
a cool privacy-or-anonymity-enhancing concept in a scientific journal
and make it come alive.
We thank all our volunteers, Fellows, and donors who make
our efforts possible,
Heiki Ojasild – FSFE
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