Policy Advocacy Activities
As a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, Free Software
Foundation Europe works to create general understanding and
support for Free Software and Open Standards. The following
activities are concrete actions that we take in the areas of
public awareness, policy advocacy, and legal support.
Since its foundation in 2001, the FSFE has been working every
single day to further Free Software in Europe and beyond. With
our concrete activities, based upon the three pillars of our work, we
focus on protecting and extending user rights. Some of our
actions run for many years, some are aimed at short-term
developments, but all are part of our mission: empower users
to control technology.
Another major part of our work consists of continuous engagement
and background work. We are present at dozens of conferences per year,
support and maintain an excellent community, and
provide it with helpful resources. Furthermore, we are a
prominent contact point for all questions and enquiries around
software freedom, Open Standards, and user rights. We also provide basic education resources on Free Software legal and licensing issues.
We need political change to strengthen Free Software. Learn more about how we
Why is software created using taxpayers' money not released as Free Software? We want legislation requiring that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well. Code paid by the people should be available to the people!
It should go without saying that in our society we should be able
to freely choose technical devices for use in our homes. But some
Internet service providers in Europe dishonor this principle by
dictating which device their customers have to use in order to
connect to the internet, or they discriminate against the owners
of alternative devices. This undermining of our basic freedom of
choice is strongly opposed by the FSFE and many other
organisations, projects, and individuals. Router Freedom is not
merely a topic for experts. It affects all of us.
Although digital devices are ubiquotous today, the number of devices on which users
cannot run Free Software is exponentially increasing. The consequence is an increased
loss of control over users’ technology. Device Neutrality aims to
enable end-users to bypass gatekeepers to have a non-discriminatory use of
Free Software on their devices.
Device Neutrality is the policy concept to regulate monopoly over
devices and re-establish end-user control over their digital equipment.
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulates the economic activity of large
digital platforms and introduces Device Neutrality in the EU
legislation, fostering access to Free Sofware in Devices.
An EU regulation may make it impossible to install a custom piece
of software on most radio devices like WiFi routers, smartphones,
and embedded devices. It requires hardware manufacturers to
implement a barrier that disallows users to install any software
which has not been certified by them. We are working to avoid the
expected negative implications on user rights and Free Software,
security, fair competition, the environment, and charitable
More Policy Activities
What better time is there to ask politicians about their stance
on Free Software and Open Standards than in the time before an
election? We believe that we can and should make these topics an
issue in all elections, be it on a European, national, regional,
or local level. Depending on the electoral system and culture,
there are different strategies and tools we use: Ask Your
Candidates a set of questions, the Digital-O-Mat online tool, the
Freedomvote online platform, and the Let's Promise pledges.
We are working towards a world where software does what software
users want it to do. For this, software users must be able to
participate in the development and distribution of the software.
Software patents block this goal by adding legal and financial
risks to software development and distribution and by giving the
patent holders legal power to completely prohibit software
developers from using the patented ideas.
With the PDFreaders campaign we turn the spotlight on government
organisations who advertise proprietary PDF readers, exposing how
frequent such advertisements for non-free software are. With the
help of activists across Europe, we contacted these organisations
and explained to them how to improve their websites so that they
respect our freedom. On pdfreaders.org we present Free
Software PDF readers for all major operating systems.
In 2001 the European Union started investigating Microsoft's
dominant position in the market for desktop operating systems.
The FSFE played two key roles in this case. First, we represented
the interests of Free Software developers. Second, we are a
public interest organisation who cannot be bought off. Thanks to
the excellent work by all involved parties, the case has been won
in all rulings up to the European Court of Justice in 2012.
We want to enable all citizens to have free access to education
and all other public institutions, both online and offline. We
wish to achieve this by pushing for a mandatory use of Open
Standards and guaranteed platform-independent access to all
materials required in the public educational system. This allows
students and parents to use Free Software, enabling them to tap
into their potential for personal growth and development, without
being made dependent of a company. This activity was specifically
aimed at the Dutch education sector.
The European Commission funds research and development through official
framework programmes (FP for short). From 2007 these framework
programmes were used to select projects for support until 2013. The FSFE
played a central role in supported projects related to Free Software.
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a global policy discussion
forum of the United Nations, established as an outcome of the UN
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). FSFE followed the
IGF to ensure that policy discussions will not endanger digital
freedom in general and Free Software in particular.
Since the very beginning of the standardisation process for
Microsoft's Office Open XML - OOXML (hereinafter MS-OOXML), the
FSFE has expressed serious doubts about whether MS-OOXML could be
considered as open, if even as a standard at all. The FSFE first
raised the issue in the community and led the movement against
the standardisation of MS-OOXML, following closely over the years
the relevant developments.
A second directive on the enforcement of "intellectual
property rights" was proposed by the European
Commission. It aims to criminalise all "intentional,
commercial-scale" infringements, and to allow rights-holders
to take part investigations. The FSFE pointed out to the EU
institutions how such laws encourage abuse of the legal system
and have chilling effects on law-abiding activities.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 16
specialized agencies of the United Nations system of organisations.
Its role is administrating 23 international treates dealing with
different aspects of limited monopolies on knowledge. As an observer
to WIPO and together with a global coalition of other players with
similar goals, FSFE worked towards reshaping it as a "World
Intellectual Wealth Organisation."
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
was a two-summit UN conference organised by the ITU at which important cornerstones for
the information and knowledge society were proposed to be laid. The FSFE
participated along with other civil societies to make sure that the
principles of the digital age would protect digital freedom, sharing of
knowledge, access to information, and Free Software.
Funding of research and development by the European Commission
is usually done within the "framework programmes" (FPs). These
last for four years and FP6 started officially on December
17th, 2002. The FSFE sought to help with Free Software related
activities in FP6.
The objectives were to have Free Software classified as an intangible
world cultural heritage by UNESCO, and registered in the World
Memory Register (another UNESCO project). The Free Software
community and UNESCO share the same values of freedom, equality, and fraternity. Such a recognition would be a great promotion
of Free Software.
The European Copyright Directive (EUCD) was the European
equivalent of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
These laws not only lead to the creation of monopolies and
cartels, they also provide serious impediments to the Freedoms of
speech and press, as they provide means for digital censorship.
The FSFE was actively involved in the resistance against
such harmful legislation.