Device Neutrality becomes a reality +++ Stockholm +++ FSFE infrastructure +++ AI

press at press at
Tue Jan 11 09:41:37 UTC 2022

 = Device Neutrality becomes a reality +++ Stockholm +++ FSFE infrastructure +++ AI =

[ Read online: ]

In our January Newsletter, we recognise the importance of the Digital
Markets Act as a mostly positive development for software freedom. Read
how the lack of public code cost Stockholm €100 million. Our System
Hackers team unravel what lies behind the FSFE infrastructure. Vincent
Lequertier stresses that AI needs transparency. FOSDEM is coming up.

 == Device Neutrality finally becomes a reality ==

The European Parliament adopted the Digital Markets Act, which
introduces the principle of Device Neutrality [1]. This is a major first
step. The right for end-users to use their own device and operating
system is an important factor to guarantee access of Free Software
operating systems to dominant platforms. As a daily reality for many
users, this option enlarges the audience for Free Software adoption.

The Digital Markets Act protects the users as it requires stricter
consent for pre-installed apps, it aims to prevent vendor lock-in, and
it requires real time data portability. However, we regret that the
voting has not contemplated setting Open Standards as the default to
define interoperability.

 == Lack of public code cost the city of Stockholm €100 million ==

Parents in Stockholm receive information about their children's schools
or kindergartens directly to their devices with the help of
Skolplattformen ('School platform'), a digital platform offered by the
city of Stockholm. It cost an estimated €100 million and although it was
publicly funded, Skolplattformen's code was private. Parents spotted
irregularities and security issues in the platform and proceeded to fix
the flaws themselves. They created a functional and secure Free Software
alternative, Öppna skolplattformen ('Open school platform'). The city of
Stockholm took legal measures against the developers who wanted to help.

We interviewed Christian Landberg and Alexander Crawford, two major
contributors behind the initiative [2]. According to Alexander Crawford,
Öppna skolplattformen changes the conversation around civic tech and
digitalisation of the public sector.

 == Infrastructure living the ideals of software freedom ==

Can organisations with limited resources be digitally sovereign and
still provide modern services? It is not trivial, but the FSFE proves it
is possible. We have maximized our control over services and servers by
using Free Software. We demonstrate internal and external transparency.
The complexity of our systems is bearable, while we provide a variety of
useful features.

The FSFE shares an overview of its digital infrastructure in an article
[3] that could help other NGOs become independent from proprietary
service providers. Let us take you on a journey through our
infrastructure and its principles, from shiny user interfaces of our
services, crossing the virtualisation methods and monitoring, down to
the bare metal servers they are running on. Our infrastructure is
managed by the System Hackers team.

 == Interview with Vincent Lequertier on AI ==

Vincent Lequertier is a member of the System Hackers team and a
researcher of artificial intelligence for healthcare. For 20 years FSFE,
we interviewed Vincent about crucial aspects of artificial intelligence
[4]. Transparency in AI is necessary to evaluate and understand how data
is processed and how results are calculated. Free Software can play a
crucial role in making AI more transparent.

Vincent notes that in the health sector some aggregated statistics are
widely available. According to his estimate, openness and collaborative
aspects of research on AI will improve. The interview unravels cutting
edge topics such as the possibility of AI obtaining the legal right to
claim copyright.

 == Save the date ==

- On Wednesday 19 January, the FSFE Netherlands country team will have
  its monthly online get-together [5].

- On Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 February FOSDEM 2022 will take place
  online, and the FSFE will co-organise the Legal and Policy Devroom
  again. Last year we co-organised the Legal and Policy Devroom for the
  first time; it included 11 talks on a rich variety of topics [6]. We
  look forward to FOSDEM 2022. Join us to learn the latest developments
  in software freedom. Stay tuned for the schedule.

 == What we have done ==

- On 28 December, Alexander Sander, FSFE's Policy Consultant, gave a
  talk about “Public Money? Public Code! during corona times" at the rC3

- On 16 December, Lina Ceballos, an FSFE Project Manager, participated
  in an online session about some of the FSFE's main activities with a
  focus on "Public Money? Public Code!" and its current status in Spain
  and in Europe. The talk took place at Trantor Tech Talks; a video is
  available in Spanish [7].

- In December, community members published three posts in Planet. A book
  review of Cory Doctorow‘s novel “Walkaway” praises the story-telling
  despite a personal distaste for fantasy around “mind scan” technology.
  An instructional post demonstrates how to disable your internal
  keyboard/touchpad when a cat arrives. A celebratory post announces the
  release of PGPainless version 1.0.0. You can read the thoughts of the
  FSFE community in Planet [8].

 == 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're looking
forward to 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 [9]. Thanks to our community and all the volunteers,
supporters, and donors who make our work possible. And thanks to our
translators, who enable you to read this newsletter in your native

Your editor, Fani Partsafyllidou

Discuss this [10]

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