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FSFE Newsletter - July 2012
"Secure Boot": Who will control your next computer?
The FSFE's goal is to ensure that the owners of IT devices are always in full and sole control of them. This fundamental principle is recently being challenged. For maintaining sustained growth in the development and use of software, the broad availability of general purpose computers is crucial. This month the FSFE published its "Secure Boot" analysis.
We demand that before purchasing a device, buyers must be informed concisely about the technical measures implemented in this device, as well as the specific usage restrictions and their consequences for the owner.
Furthermore, we strongly recommend to exclusively purchase IT devices which grant their owners full, sole and permanent control over security subsystems (e. g. signature-based usage restrictions), in order to maintain the ability to install arbitrary software and lastly to retain exclusive control over ones own data.
European Court of Justice confirms: We are right!
We always said "They are willing to deal with everybody, but those who compete with them." Meaning, proposing conditions against Free Software is an abuse. Microsoft replied "change your business model to suit our licensing scheme and you'll be served", or "Free what? Who the hell are you, what's your turnover", or dismissals like this. Apart from annoying, they were wrong. (Carlo Piana, who represented the FSFE and the Samba Team)
This month the European Court of Justice has ordered Microsoft to finally pay a record fine of 860 million euros for using its near-monopoly on the desktop to keep rivals out of the workgroup server market.
Microsoft spent over 3.000.000.000 EUR to buy third parties out of this case. But for a decade, we continued to participate in the case, to assert the rights of Free Software developers to access interoperability information, especially for the Samba Team. Samba is a Free Software to share files and printers in a network competing with Microsoft's proprietary product.
This decision establishes that we were right: Receiving the interoperability information was our right as Free Software community, not a concession by Microsoft.
Spain won the Championship! What about Finland?
Interesting times in the European Free Software Championship. Spain won the European Free Software Championship with 4:3 against Norway. Thanks to referee Guido Arnold we did not receive any reports of fouls during the alternative games. Outside those games the FSFE also works on fairness.
We have started an initiative to advance fair public procurements in Finland, to lower the barrier for Free Software in the Finnish public sector. The initiative concentrates on IT related procurement notices that require brand instead of defining functionality required by the procurer. To date the FSFE has skimmed over 300 procurement notices, and of those taken into closer analysis, 14 have been found to clearly violate the Finnish procurement law. These violating notices explicitly asked for tenders of specific brands of software manufacturers or products and thus discriminate all other brands and manufacturers, effectively stopping free competition.
The FSFE contacts the violating authorities and informs them about the specific violation the notice contains, including a six item list of recommendations to ensure proper competition.
Something completely different
- The FSFE's former legal coordinator Shane Coughlan launched OpenRelief. The project is aimed at developing inexpensive—"disposable"—drone aircraft to assist relief teams in detecting people, changes in terrain, smoke, radiation, and other conditions in places that may be difficult or dangerous for on-the-ground exploration.
- After meeting other Fellows at Linuxtag in Berlin, Heiki Ojasild decided to hold a PDFreaders sprint at Akademy in Tallinn, Estonia. On July 4th everyone is invited to follow our PDF Readers Sprint Guide stopping public bodies from restricting the users' freedom and unfairly distorting the competition in favour of certain proprietary software makers.
- The FSFE's president Karsten Gerloff welcomes the Basque Country's move to introduce a policy that software developed with public funds will be released as Free Software by default.
- The draft for the UK Communications Bill outlines how civil servants are intent on surveilling the internet communications of British citizens. Sam Tuke wrote about how to use Free Software to protect your privacy online, regardless of the measures that the Coalition may impose upon you or your telecoms providers.
UPDATE: The European Parliament rejected
The FSFE has been asking activists across Europe to protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Our aim is that the European Parliament finally rejects this controversial treaty, which would greatly harm citizens' rights. The Parliament will hold a plenary vote on ACTA on 4th of July.
- A bit sarcastic: some people are wondering who was violating the GNU GPL with StuxNet.
- And in the upcoming month, the FSFE will be present at the RMLL (Libre Software Meeting) in Geneva, and as you can see on our event page Richard Stallman is giving talks in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Spain.
- A selection from the Fellowship blog aggregation:
- Fellowship representative Hugo Roy commented on Facebook's updates of the terms of service (that is the document most people never read, but everyone agrees to when they sign up to services online).
- Mirko Böhm is analysing why Nokia is laying off 10.000 employees, including 700 core Qt developers?
- A Federal US Judge says APIs are not copyrightable. Read more in Carlo Piana's article, and learn why copyright in software is not the same copyright as the one granted to literary works.
- Hannes Hauswedell wrote a triology (part 0 part 1, and part 2) about a versatile, open and future-proof audio setup.
- And finally, read why it might somtimes be complicated to really "try turning it off and on again"?.
Get Active: Whom should we ask next?
Every time your editor reads a Fellowship interview he feels proud to work for the FSFE with all those amazing people. Again this month when Bjarni Runar Einarsson was interviewed about PageKite, an application which allows the publication of websites stored on personal computers. PageKite can be combined with other Free Software to realise decentralisation.
Please help Chris Woolfrey and Sam Tuke by suggesting other Fellows for an interview. You can also participate in our editors team to help interviewing people and editing other publications. And finally, if you know interesting people in the Free Software community who are not yet Fellows (it is hard to believe, but your editor heard rumours they still exist), convince them to become a Fellow, so we can make new interesting interviews for you.