Newsletter

FSFE Newsletter - July 2015

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FSFE pokes the European Commission on its transparency commitment

While looking into the Digital Single Market (DSM) package, our president Karsten Gerloff noticed that the EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger neglected to publish his recent meetings with lobbyists. So Karsten reminded the Commission about their transparency commitment. Meanwhile Oettinger's Head of Cabinet, Michael Hager, explained that a long-term sickness leave in the cabinet has led to a delay in publishing the meetings, and they updated the lists of meetings.

But it turned out Karsten was not the only one interested in Oettinger's meetings. A few days after Karsten's reminder the Spiegel and other media published news stories about it. According to Spiegel Online’s figures, 90% of the Commissioner’s meetings were with corporate representatives, business organisations, consultancies and law firms. Only 3% of his meetings were with NGOs. Of the top ten organisations he’s meeting with, seven are telecoms companies, most of whom are staunchly opposed to net neutrality.

Without the EU's transparency commitment, it would have been almost impossible to research this. This shows how important such transparency commitments are and it shows how important it is that organisations and individuals actually monitor such publications. Furthermore we hope that from now on Oettinger better balances his meetings, so he hears different sides of an issue, and can make an informed decision.

TiSA: intransparent treaty might prevent digital sovereignty

Nowadays countries start to demand the source code for software they procure. If they sign the currently negotiated Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) they might be forbidden to continue doing so.

End of May, a draft of TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) was leaked. TiSA is yet another international agreement, like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), or the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). It is apparently negotiated by 51 countries including the EU. In the section “Transfer or Access to Source Code” the leaked version prevents countries to give priority to Free Software:

  1. No Party may require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition of providing services related to such software in its territory.

  2. For purposes of this Article, software subject to paragraph 1 is limited to mass-market software, and does not include software used for critical infrastructure.

We believe that a trade agreement should not force signatory countries to give up control over their IT infrastructure for decades to come. On the contrary, companies should provide the source code if the public administrations demands it, as well as the corresponding rights to use the software for any purpose, to share the software with others, as well as to adapt the software for their own needs without anyone else's permission.

Something completely different

Get active: Tell us about active groups in Europe

There are many groups in Europe who do advocacy and lobby work for software freedom. Some have done this work for many years, some just started doing it. Unfortunately often they do not know from each other's existence, and therefore cannot benefit from a knowledge exchange.

We want to make sure the FSFE does not overlook other Free Software activities in Europe, so we can learn from each other and improve our way of empowering more users to control their technology. That is why this month we ask you to tell us about the active groups working for software freedom in Europe.

Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE