(Y)our recent successes towards software freedom in Europe
The spread of Covid-19 brought dramatic and drastic changes for us and our societies, and this shed light on the global need for global solutions like Free Software. Here is a short summary of the recent successes towards software freedom in Europe we achieved together with your help and despite the crisis.
The spread of Covid-19 brought dramatic and drastic changes for us and our societies. One of the things most of us experienced was to stay at home or in quarantine. Apart from severe consequences people have been facing, suddenly many people also have been forced to work from home. In response, our community was quick and eager in helping people to stay in control of technology. Already, in the very beginning, our community members gathered knowledge and wrote a guide to freedom respecting online collaboration and communication tools into our wiki.
In our official channels, the FSFE focused early on highlighting that global problems need global solutions and on explaining why only Free Software creates global solutions and cooperation. We received positive feedback and we luckily have seen tremendous success with our message: the European Union, the World Health Organsation and the EU eHealth Network followed our arguments and they now recommend that any COVID-19 contact tracing app development be published as Free Software. Many countries followed their recommendations, for example Austria with StoppCorona, the Netherlands with PrivateTracer, Germany with the Corona Warn App, Czech Republic with eRouška and Italy with Immuni App.
This is a huge success for software freedom! It is a result of the daily work we all persistently invest in Free Software advocacy. For almost 20 years the FSFE has been part of an ever growing freedom respecting community in Europe. We gather reliable expertise and consultancy and continuously explain to the public and political representatives the benefits of software freedom. Now, in the face of the crisis, national and international players finally seem to realize the advantages of Free Software.
Health care apps as Free Software
Hopefully, the decision to publish Covid-19 health care apps as Free Software by itself helps to change mindsets of decision-makers in the long run. But also the viral effect of the preceding discussions, publications and decisions is priceless. Major international and national news agencies have reported about health care apps becoming Free Software and the benefits involved. In several countries we have seen a coalition of scientists, data protection agencies, ministries and politicians who argued in favor of software freedom. Every time they do, more people are understanding why software freedom matters for our society. And any time more people are understanding the importance of software freedom, it is likely that some of them join our cause.
These developments are part of the success of our work and they show that even in a time of dramatic crisis you can help people to understand the benefits of controlling technology. On the other hand, there is still a lot to do. Many countries still encourage the use of proprietary tracing apps. In other countries - for example in Germany where the Corona Warn App was developed - the tracing apps themselves are Free Software but they depend on the proprietary "Exposure Notification Framework" only accessible by installing the proprietary Google Play services or Apple iOS update. You also need to use the proprietary app market to install the app itself. Then what is all freedom worth if the solution depends on third-party proprietary blobs? And if you have to use proprietary software to install them?
Public administrations for Free Software
If we take a look at the big picture and away from the COVID-19 apps, many administrations recently have announced that they plan to follow our road to freedom. Hamburg wants to focus more on Free Software, Munich commits to "Public Money? Public Code!", the Netherlands commit to Free Software by default, the Spanish Municipality of Benigànim signs the Open Letter of our "Public Money? Public Code!" campaign and the German city of Bühl uses Free Software to connect their citizens. We want to help them on their journey and ask more to join! We want to make sure people understand that this is a long term activity, and we offer help and guidance.
Now is a good time to raise awareness about our mission in new audiences. Progressing for our long term work, the recent successes and the public discussions about Free Software we want to speed up the path towards a Europe built on Free Software. Please help us to convince more decision-makers and to supply them with good material to show the benefits of Free Software.
Join us as a supporter and help us with a financial contribution so we can boost our work, repeat our recent successes and help people understand why Free Software is important for our future:
The FSFE wishes you all an enjoyable and healthy summer in (software) freedom.
PS: A financial support towards the FSFE is tax-deductible in some countries. They say it is good for your karma in any country around the globe.