[FSFE PR][EN] FSFE: 20 years of empowering people to control technology

press at fsfe.org press at fsfe.org
Wed Jul 21 07:38:43 UTC 2021

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 = FSFE: 20 years of empowering people to control technology =

[ Read online: https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210721-01.en.html ]

Marking twenty years of the FSFE, we highlight the importance of
software freedom in Europe and important accomplishments since 2001. We
shed light on our community with a birthday page where you can find
community interviews and videos. People are invited to celebrate with us
and share their own stories.

Long before the first smartphone was introduced, it was evident to the
FSFE's founders that it is the people who should be in control of
technology and not vice versa. In 2001, Free Software experts around
Europe therefore created [1] the Free Software Foundation Europe. 20
years later, we successfully concentrate our daily work on three main
pillars [2] to help software freedom thrive in Europe: public awareness,
policy advocacy, and legal support.

 == Some highlights of the last 20 years ==

In 2021, the FSFE looks back on a successful history with major
successes in the public, legal, and policy fields. For example in 2005,
when our intense campaigning [3] and collaboration with other
organisations persuaded the European Parliament to vote [4] against
Software Patents. Or two years later, when the European Court of Justice
aligned with the FSFE, requiring Microsoft to publish interoperability
information [5]. During that time, we saw that it was needed to help
Free Software developers by clarifying the legal aspects of their work,
such as the enforcement in case of license violations. This led to the
FSFE starting to work with Free Software legal advocates and
practitioners for legal initiatives in 2006.

Meanwhile, the FSFE maintains the world's largest professional network
on legal issues related to Free Software [6]. The FSFE's legal experts
on this network help with concrete licensing consultancy. To this end in
2017 we also created the highly successful REUSE [7] initiative to
provide a set of recommendations that make licensing Free Software
projects easier for developers. REUSE has been adopted by well known
projects such as the German Corona Warn App and the KDE.

Since its founding, the FSFE has been committed to running public
campaigns and helping people to understand the benefits of Free
Software. As early as 2012, we helped users to overcome software
restrictions in their phones with the launch of our 'Free Your Android'
campaign [8]. Two years earlier we introduced "I Love Free Software Day"
[9] which is celebrated around the globe every year on 14 February. In
2017, we launched the extraordinarily successful 'Public Money? Public
Code!' campaign [10], convincing several public administrations to
change their IT strategy. The accompanying open letter [11] has been
signed by over 200 civil society organisations, 31.000 individuals, and
several public administrations like the city of Barcelona and the
Swedish JobTech Development center.

 == FSFE20 campaign: handing over the mic to our community ==

Of course, all these accomplishments can only give a glimpse of the
impact of the FSFE and our activities in the last 20 years. They do not
tell how all these successes are the result of our large community that
we can rely on. To at least shed light on some of them we created the
FSFE20 campaign [12] this year, where we hand over the mic to our

We have contacted people who paved the way of the FSFE since its
beginning, such as long term contributors and past staffers. In a series
of interviews we discuss the progress of the FSFE as well as
technological topics. Every person who is involved in the FSFE has
unique memories, expertise, and hopes for the future. They are all part
of the story of 20 Years FSFE.

So far we interviewed Georg Greve [13], founder president of the FSFE;
Reinhard Müller [14], long-term volunteer and former Financial Officer
of the FSFE; Fernanda Weiden [15], former Vice President of FSFE and
founding member of FSF Latin America; and Torsten Grote [16], Free
Software developer and long time volunteer in the FSFE.

And this is just the beginning. We will conduct several more interviews
to shed light on 20 Years FSFE. In addition, this autumn we want to
publish another dedicated birthday page whose content is entirely made
from our community contributions. You will find more on this and the
interviews on our birthday page [17]! Besides these interviews, you will
also find a birthday video from science-fiction author Cory Doctorow and
one by our current president Matthias Kirschner alongside information on
how people can join the celebrations.

 === A message from our President Matthias Kirschner ===

Although technology is ever-changing, our values have been consistent
throughout the last twenty years. The core of our work is, in a
nutshell: educating people on the nature of Free Software, highlighting
its political implications, and simplifying its legal preconditions.
Matthias Kirschner, President of the FSFE since 2015, explains this in
his own words in a short video on our birthday page:


  1: https://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/press-release/2001q2/000003.html
  2: https://fsfe.org/about/ourwork.en.html
  3: https://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/press-release/2004q2/000057.html
  4: https://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/press-release/2005q3/000109.html
  5: https://fsfe.org/activities/ms-vs-eu/ms-vs-eu.en.html
  6: https://fsfe.org/activities/ftf/ln.en.html
  7: https://reuse.software/
  8: https://fsfe.org/activities/android/index.en.html
  9: https://fsfe.org/activities/ilovefs/index.en.html
 10: https://publiccode.eu/
 11: https://publiccode.eu/openletter/
 12: https://fsfe.org/activities/20years/20years.en.html
 13: https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210204-01.en.html
 14: https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210305-01.en.html
 15: https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210420-01.en.html
 16: https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210625-01.en.html
 17: https://fsfe.org/activities/20years/20years.en.html

  == About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  Free Software Foundation Europe is a charity that empowers users to
  control technology. Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our
  lives; and it is important that this technology empowers rather than
  restricts us. Free Software gives everybody the rights to use,
  understand, adapt and share software. These rights help support other
  fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, press and privacy.

  The FSFE helps individuals and organisations understand how Free
  Software contributes to freedom, transparency and self-determination. We
  enhance users' rights by abolishing barriers to Free Software adoption,
  encourage people to use and develop Free Software, and provide resources
  to enable everyone to further promote Free Software in Europe.


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