FSFE Newsletter - December 2013
Our cryptocards and straw fires
In 2005 we started giving crypto cards to individuals who donated to us and have become Fellow of FSFE. We believe it is important to remind people about Free Software tools to encrypt our communications. Besides since FSFE was founded in 2001, we have been explaining that those 40 digits on our business cards are about encryption and why this is important. 8 years later, the topic encryption hit ithe media, and it is now mentioned in every newspaper in Europe. This is good and bad at the same time: We currently face the problem that media attention is very high but it does not mean we have more resources to deal with it. We would like to work more on these issues but we also cannot stop working on other long term topics.
Importance of long term work
If you take a look at our new timeline you will see that we often had to work on topics which are difficult to explain to a larger audience, work intensive, and sometimes unpopular. Companies worked against Free Software as they saw it as threat to them earning money but we helped them to understand how they can make revenues with Free Software. We had to spend 8 years of work with the European Commission and the European Court of Justice to make sure Free Software companies are allowed to compete with Microsoft's work group servers and since then we are pushing this knowledge also on the national and local levels. License compliance was an unpopular topic for a long time but developers have to make sure our software can be programmed and used without legal risks. When we started working on Open Standards it was a niche topic, now it is main stream. Companies opposed our position on software patents, now a lot of businesses and politicians realised they are a dangerous business risk. Today they use our arguments and ask us for input to get rid of them.
What we need to master the challenge
We believe in a society in which software is in the hands of all of us: as individuals, companies and organisations, or governments, instead of a few powerful entities. Nobody should be allowed to prevent you from changing software, or asking someone else to change it for you, on your mobile phone, router, car, or other belongings. The last months have shown us that it is important for our society to have computers we can trust. Computers we control. Programs that are transparent in what they do with our data and which can be changed to fulfil our needs. The only way to achieve this is with Free Software.
Such a challenge cannot be solved in a few months, it takes a long time. It takes organisations which continue to work when there is no big media attention. An organisation which fights for your freedom in the digital age. FSFE has worked on those issues for over 12 years.
To face this challenge FSFE needs to work continuously towards this goal, and for this we need you, to invest in your freedom! At the moment it is a good time to intensify our work, as there are many people out there who listen differently to the same messages we had before. We would like to expand our activities, and therefore we need your donation. Do what others did who value software freedom: Become a supporting member by joining the Fellowship of FSFE!
Something completely different
- FSFE published a press release about the Rockstar vs. Google case: Rockstar, a consortium of companies formed to collect certain patents put on sale in the dissolution procedure of Nortel, has sued Google and other companies over seven of those patents. FSFE already voiced serious concerns and warned competition regulators against exactly such a scenario in December 2011. Again an example how software patents are a dangerous business risk.
- We welcome our new core team member Maurice Verheesen from the Netherlands. He already took care of our booth at T-Dose which also becomes a meeting point for Fellows from the Netherlands and the Rhineland.
- Shall I buy a computer without an operating system and install GNU/Linux distribution of my own choice, or buy a laptop with GNU/Linux preinstalled which includes non-free software? Participate in the discussion on our public English speaking list by reading this message , continue with the mentioned blogs articles there, comment on the list, and like Paul Boddie wrote: join other volunteers to maintain the hardware vendors page.
- Thanks to Nermin Canik, FSFE had its first booth in Turkey, and Michael Stehmann took care of an FSFE booth and two talks at OpenRheinRuhr.
- FSFE participated at the Open Knowledge Festival. At the "speed geeking", in which Lucile Falgueyrac gave the same five minutes talk seven times, she presented FSFE, Open Standards and Document Freedom Day.
- The Parliament in Spain's Andalusia is unanimously urging the region's government to switch to Free Software.
- Guido Arnold published the FSFE education update from October.
- Jérémie Zimmermann from our friends at La Quadrature Du Net argues in "Snowden and the Future of our Communication Architecture" that the "Snowden revelations give us a vivid illustration that Richard Stallman and others have been right for all these years." He writes that we need decentralised services, Free Software, and end-to-end encryption.
- The Guardian project wrote about how to set up your own app store with F-Droid. If you host your own F-Droid repository, then people can use F-Droid to install your own apps signed by your own signing key.
- Renault apparently has the ability to remotely prevent the battery from charging. Karsten Gerloff wrote about the Zoe electric car.
- He also summarised a report by the French website Mediapart. At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, a technically skilled person managed to intercept 14 Members of the European Parliament and their staffers using trivial tools.
- From the planet aggregation:
- After discussion with a Danish Member of Parliament, Thomas Locke wrote what he did to support Tor and is now running a Tor exit node.
- Torsten Grote summarised the presentation about Dark Mail as Next-Generation Email to Stop Spying.
- Fellowship representative Nikos Roussos wrote about how he started with GNU/Linux.
- The Neo900 phone moved beyond the discussion phase and into the fundraising phase. Paul Boddie gives some background.
- Besides he takes a look at the Free Software Desktop. He argues that "Free Software desktop developers have imperilled their own mission with the result that they now have to make up lost ground in the struggle to get people to use their software."
- In Paris another MutterWare meeting took place. Nicolas Jean wrote a short summary, about the email client meeting. Hugo Roy documents how to do a carddav lookup in mutt and Karsten Gerloff how to do address lookup with mu. If you regret not living in Paris, Hugo and Nicolas suggest to start MutterWare meetings in your city, too.
- A court in Caen/France ruled that a French SME did not infringe Skype's copyright by reverse-engineering the algorithm used by the company for its VoIP services, and attempting to use it commercially.
- Daniel Pocock highlights the applications for the Outreach Program for Women and the option for Australian women to get $75,000 to make free software during maternity leave.
- Cryptography: Sergey Matveev wrote about a big cryptoparty in Moscow, Lucile Falgueyrac helped at a cryptoparty for journalists, and wrote about the problems accepting a security signature in GNU/Linux.
- Anna spent a week with some 5-11 year old children for an plasticine animating using Phatch, Linux Stop Motion and Kdenlive.
- And your editor highlighted the part about Free Software from David Wheelers's article "Vulnerability bidding wars and vulnerability economics".
Get active: Why does Free Software matter to you?
This month Jacob Appelbaum, spokesperson for the Tor Project, and two other Tor developers became supporting members of FSFE and Jacob explained why he did so:
I believe that actions of support for the FSFE are important for encouraging Free Software development and adoption in Europe as well as the rest of the world. I'm an FSFE Fellow because financially supporting the cause of Free Software brings positive improvements to all societies throughout the world.
Quotes like this help others understanding the importance of our work. On our english Fellowship page some of our Fellows already explain why Free Software and FSFE's work is important to them. We would also like you to write us why Free Software and our work matters to you. In agreement with you, we would then like to publish some of the submissions on our website. Else they just motivate FSFE's working teams.