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.
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.
"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.
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