FSFE Newsletter – September 2014
press at fsfeurope.org
press at fsfeurope.org
Thu Sep 4 17:50:02 CEST 2014
= FSFE Newsletter – September 2014 =
[ Read online: https://fsfe.org/news/nl/nl-201409.ru.html ]
== An Introduction to Free Software and the liberation of cyberspace ==
The freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly,
freedom of association, and privacy are essential preconditions for a
Free Society. If it lacks one of those freedoms, it is difficult to
maintain the others. As a society, it is important to defend those
freedoms, especially in light of fundamental changes such as the one
introduced by the ubiquity of computers. Such changes can threaten old
freedoms and can create the need for new ones. So now software freedom
is crucial to distribute and balance power in society. The FSFE is
convinced that a free society needs the freedoms which only Free
Software can offer. That is, why we advocate Free Software.
In 2010, we wrote the article "Democracy requires Free Software",
explaining the message above to politicians at the ceremony at which the
Theodor-Heuss medal was awarded to the FSFE. Thanks to FSFE's
translators team, the article is meanwhile available in 15 languages,
and is shared widely.
Since last month, the message of the importance of Free Software is also
featured in a short TEDx video "Introduction to Free Software and the
liberation of cyberspace" by Richard Stallman. It is a good way to
make others aware of the significance of Free Software and why it
matters. We need more people to understand why Free Software matters for
a free society, as the following examples will show once again.
== Slovakia still forcing users to use non-free software ==
In 2012 -- thanks to our former intern Martin Husovec -- the FSFE got
engaged in a case against the Slovak Tax Authorities together with
the European Information Society Institute (EISi). As current FSFE
intern Matej Gera writes in his blog the problem of Slovak
authorities forcing people to use non-free software is still ongoing:
According to a new regulation in Slovakia, people who own agricultural
land and want to sell it must make an offer on web page of the Ministry
of Agriculture first. In order to submit an offer to the Ministry's web
page, you need to use additional software. The software in question is
proprietary and only available for Microsoft Windows, and it is the only
way -- there is no paper form. If you would try to sell the land
otherwise, you would break the law.
This practice is not only unacceptable for Free Software users, but also
unlawful itself in Slovakia. Since 2008, there is a binding regulation
which forbids public authorities to request users to use a specific
operating system. But the website of Ministry clearly does not comply
with this rule. Now, the Slovak non-profit organisation EISi sent a
letter to Ministry of Agriculture, calling to end this practice. If they
will not comply with the letter and will not provide an interoperable
solution until October, EISi will go to court to protect rights of
Slovak software users.
== Forced by Internet Service Provider to use certain hardware ==
It should go without saying that in our society, we should be able to
freely choose technical devices for use in our homes like we choose the
furniture or the books in our shelves. But besides authorities forcing
us to to use non-free software, the FSFE currently also has to counter
companies who want to force us to use certain computers in our home. In
this case even one of the most important computers: the router, which
should act as the gatekeeper between our private network and the public
In Germany, Internet service providers (ISPs) force their customers to
use certain types of hardware in order to connect to the internet. Users
of alternative devices, instead, are not able to connect to the internet
by those ISPs. Together with other members of the Free Software
community, our German team wrote several comments on this case and we
entered talks with government agencies, corporations, and other
organisations about compulsory routers.
As this topic was mainly covered in Germany and in German, our German
team member Max Mehl summarised this case and made a timeline of the
most important events which lead to the current state. We hope that
with this information we can support other Free Software activists
around the world, who might face similar problems.
== Something completely different ==
- FSFE has received television coverage twice in the last months. First,
our legal coordinator Matija Šuklje was interviewed for the RTV
Slovenia to point out the challenges for the newly appointed
Information Commissioner of Slovenia related to cloud computing.
Although they translated the FSFE into "Foundation for unrestricted
programming", it was the first time for the FSFE to appear on
Slovenian television. Thereafter, our Austrian coordinator Peter
Bubestinger was in Mexico City at an archiving seminar, where he
presented use cases for file-formats and long-term storage implemented
in Free Software. The whole seminar was translated live into Spanish
and broadcasted on Televison Educativa, a nation-wide education TV
channel. They also uploaded the videos to youtube. Peter's
interview can be found at 3h50m.
- Guido Arnold published some education news covering a hacking
contest to find security holes in Moodle, Free Software activists
visiting schools in Slovakia, and other education related news.
- GNU community members and collaborators have discovered details about
a five-country government surveillance program codenamed HACIENDA.
Those same hackers have already worked out a Free Software
countermeasure to thwart the program.
- Equipped with free GNU Radio software, a group of citizen scientists
has contacted, controlled, and is attempting to recapture a 1970s-era
satellite and bring it back into an orbit close to Earth. The story
behind this demonstrates the importance of developing,
maintaining, and promoting Free Software.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Hugo Roy takes a look at what is featured in the European Court of
Justice's "right to be forgotten". As he found it difficult to
read, he wrote an alternate version of the directive. In another
post he explains why he helped the Free Software search engine
developer Pablo Joubert to publish a defensive publication
around search engines making use of distributed hash tables.
- Our former intern Lucile Falgueyrac writes about why TTIP CETA
entails a few reasons for Free Software advocates to get
angry. She argues that now, there is a good moment to send a
strong message to the European Commission, the governments and
states that policy laundering is not a legitimate way to
legislate, and never should be.
- Our current intern Bela Seeger wrote a blog post about Off-The-
Record (OTR) Messaging, clarifying the meaning and
technicalities of "off-the-record" (OTR) messaging and giving
insight into the possibilities of implementing it in various
devices. (You might have noticed in this edition, that current and
former interns of FSFE are quite active!)
- Our Fellows participated at many events. Nikos Roussos writes
about his personal highlights of the Fedora Contributor Conference
2014. He also mentioned the keynote about the Novena laptop
project, which was summarised on LWN. Mario Fux and Mirko Böhm
report from the KDE meeting in Randa, with around 50 Free Software
activists improving KDE. To get some impressions from the meeting,
Mirko posted a short video from the meeting in Switzerland.
- André Ockers, who is currently updating and translating almost all
FSFE materials into Dutch, started blogging. He writes in
English, Dutch, German, and French.
- Kevin Keijzer, also from the Netherlands, gives a detailed
overview of Free Software he is using.
- Daniel Pocock gives an update on WebRTC, explaining what works,
what does not.
- Matija reports from his free music expirement, highlighting
his favourite artists who are using Creative Commons licenses for
== Get active: Spread the word on Software Freedom Day ==
On 20 September 2014, people around the world celebrate Free Software.
The organisers from Software Freedom International announced that the
registration for events is now open. They provide a start guide with
tips and pointers for organising your own SFD team event. If you
organise an event, or just want to spread information about Free
Software on Software Freedom Day you can also:
- order printed information materials from us
- send around the FSF's e-mail self defence guide which is now
available in 11 languages. (At the "Freedom not Fear" demonstration
our Berlin Fellowship group handed out a hundreds of printed leaflet
of the German version, which you can also order from us.)
- share Richard Stallman's video, or the article mentioned above
to explain your friends Free Software.
Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors
who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE
Free Software Foundation Europe <https://fsfe.org>
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