FSFE Newsletter – July 2014
Privacy café: e-mail encryption as the main course!
Imagine you take some friends to a café, but instead of hot and cold beverages, the menu features information on measures of ensuring digital privacy. Like "https everywhere" as a starter, "GnuPG e-mail encryption" for the main course, and "tosdr.org" (information about terms of services) as dessert. Such cafés already exist in the Netherlands. At the German speaking FSFE meeting in Essen, Felix Stegerman, our Deputy Coordinator Netherlands, presented his plans to set up more privacy cafés and why he thinks it is the right time and a good opportunity for Free Software to do so in other places as well.
The reason is that most of the people that go to a privacy café are already aware of issues around privacy and freedom. But it gives local volunteers a good opportunity to talk about Free Software, and the importance of using Free Software for privacy issues. For example, by asking the participants "who controls the software?" Read Felix's blog post for more details about the cafés and future plans.
E-mail self-defence goes multilingual
Good information material about encryption and Free Software is crucial for the privacy cafés just mentioned. Fortunately, our sister organisation, the FSF, published the e-mail self-defence guide and volunteers translated the guide and the infographic in 6 other languages: English, German, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Russian, Turkish, and Japanese. This guide explains the installation of the necessary programs for e-mail encryption under GNU/Linux, MacOS, and Microsoft Windows as well as the key generation, the web of trust and the usage of those programs. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection, an email account, and about half an hour. For information how you can help to spread information about e-mail self-defence, see this edition's "get active" section.
What to use instead of WhatsApp and Threema?
"How can I encrypt my e-mail" was one of the most common questions we received in the last months. Thanks to the e-mail self-defence guide we now have a good answer. Another questions about encryption and privacy we were asked frequently was: "is there a secure and free WhatsApp alternative?"
WhatsApp is a messaging program for mobiles that allows you to send (text) messages free-of-charge. After WhatsApp's recent acquisition by Facebook and in the face of the NSA revelations, many WhatsApp users are looking for secure and trustworthy alternatives.
Because this effects so many people, we at the Free Software Foundation Europe would like to be able to promote an alternative that respects your freedom and privacy. Therefore we decided to do some research and to hold a workshop on WhatsApp alternatives during our latest FSFE team meeting in Essen. Hannes Hauswedell and Torsten Grote summarised the results.
Something completely different
- Local group activities: FSFE had professional outdoor booths at the vegan summer festival in Vienna, as well as at Corso Leopold in Munich. At the Free Software meeting in Athens FSFE's our local group discussed how to build your own home server. Nikos Roussos documented how to setup a home server with Fedora and Beagle Bone Black. Our local group in Frankfurt focused on crypto topics, and Hugo Roy, coordinator of local group in Paris, gave a talk at the local Ubuntu party.
- "Free Software needs a strong community. If we fail to attract everyone willing to work for Free Software, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot." wrote Karsten Gerloff in his blog post "Four social rules for a 'No Asshole Zone'". Our local group coordinators have a similar discussion, and started with a code of conduct for FSFE's discussions. We are interested in your feedback on the pad.
- The Free Software community now has 33 supporters in the European Parliament. All of them signed the Free Software pact for the European elections, and we are sure there will be times in which we will remind them of the promise they have given, and ask them to support our cause.
- Our president Karsten Gerloff was delivering a keynote at the European Christian Internet Conference. Afterwards he was asked by a pastor to comment on a draft strategy to move the churches in his region towards Free Software, which Karsten did.
- From 7 to 8 June 2014 Fundația Ceata, an associated organisation of FSFE, organised the second Coliberator conference in Bucharest. At the first edition FSFE president Karsten Gerloff gave the keynote, and at this edition it was the Richard Stallman, president of FSF. The first batch of talks are already published on the conference's website.
- Guido Arnold provides the news from Free Software in education - May 2014.
- Public administration: Joinup reports that the complexity of proprietary software licences is encouraging the uptake of Free Software in the Greater London Authority, that the Extremadura health care has switched to Free Software, and that the German city of Leipzig already migrated 2792 of the city's 4300 workstations to the Free Software office suites Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. They expect "that in the first five years the anticipated savings will be swallowed by the exit costs associated with the proprietary software used by the city."
- From the planet aggregation:
- More female speakers at the conference and ATMs running GNU/Linux. Torsten was giving a talk about Free Your Android at FISL in Brazil.
- Under the slogan "your data at the intelligence services" the German Humanistische Union organised a "blog parade", asking organisations to participate with a blog post. Erik Albers wrote a post "Protection against surveillance through encryption with Free Software" (in German).
- The Randa Meetings, a collection of sprints that make KDE software better needs your help for this year's edition. Mario Fux asks everyone to spread the word, help, donate and/or support them.
- Hugo Roy lists some "awesome tools" he uses but are little known.
- Bdale Garbee wrote about TeleGPS, an easy-to-use tracking-only board providing GPS location.
- Photography: Hannes started to publish a photo of the month, edited with the Free Software Darktable, and Paul Boddie explains how he was tuning digiKam’s picture previews.
- Björn Schießle describes how to integrate the todo list software "ToDo.txt" into Claws Mail.
- Former FSFE employee Sam Tuke explains how to backup multiple e-mail accounts automatically on GNU/Linux.
Get active: Spread the e-mail self-defence guide!
The FSF's e-mail self-defence guide and the corresponding infographic is good material to explain e-mail encryption to wider audience. For some time now FSFE ships Free Software information materials to activists. Beside general information about Free Software, Open Standards, Digital Restrictions Management, or F-Droid, we would like to distribute the infographic in future.
Before we print a larger amount and ship it to our local groups and other activists around Europe, we would like you to test the infographics with friends, family and colleagues. Try to find out if they have problems understanding some parts and use our public discussion lists, so that we--together with our sister organisation--can modify them if necessary.
Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and
corporate donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE