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FSFE Newsletter – June 2014

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Security is interdependent: We are all Gmail users now

You care about privacy and you are either paying an e-mail provider, or even run your own mail server to keep autonomy, control, and privacy over your email. You do this because you want to make sure that no big company has copies of all of your personal email. Still, this does not prevent other companies from getting their hands on your data. It is not enough to merely take care of your own security, if you seek to increase your security. You have to convince your peers to increase their security, too: like Jacob Appelbaum says, security is interdependent.

FSF board member Benjamin Mako Hill wondered how much of his email has ended up in the hands of companies such as Google. So he wrote a small program to go through all his email since April 2004 (when Gmail was introduced) and analyse it. Read what Benjamin found out, what results FSFE's Karsten Gerloff and Hugo Roy got when they reproduced it, and why not try those scripts out for yourself?

Is it a torch light or a spy in your pocket?

A lot of programs that people install on their Android devices violate their security. It is common that those programs ask users to accept non-readable terms and conditions, once installed they might reveal where the device (and therefore the user) currently is, and access personal data like user's address books or text messages. A seemingly innocent app such as a torch light can thus violate the user's privacy.

For owners of mobile devices it is important to have an app store that exclusively provides Free Software. Since this means that the source code can be checked by external parties other than the vendor, they can check what an app really does, and highlight or directly remove anti-features. The result is a repository providing software with licenses that respect the user's rights instead of violating them.

In the last months we experienced that more and more people care about the software on their mobile devices. Your editor summarised what is currently happening with Free Your Android, including promotion in Greece, updating and translation status of our F-Droid leaflets, an interview with the F-Droid developer, and your editor participating in an event about consumer protection in the mobile phone sphere in the German Parliament.

Another security nightmare: DRM

After a possible setback for DRM in Europe it is important to raise more awareness about this issue. We cannot stay quiet while some companies use Digital Restriction Management to write their own copyright laws, restrict us, and decrease our IT security. Many organisations including EFF, April, and us participated in the Day Against DRM, organised by FSF to highlight the dangers of DRM. The FSFE used the occasion to contact the European Commission with an Open Letter about DRM in HTML5. We explained that DRM is directly contrary to the interests of the vast majority of Internet users everywhere.

Just a few days later the Free Software community received the bad news from Mozilla: DRM will be implemented in Firefox (the part is called EME). The reactions ranged from the FSF condemning the partnership between Mozilla and Adobe, Mozilla justifying its decision, others supporting it, and Glyn Moody criticising them by comparing Mozilla's mission with its current action. As always we are interested in your opinion. What do you think about Mozilla's decision and its reasoning? What can the Free Software community do to counterbalance this move? Let us know on our public discussion list.

Something completely different

Get active: Your experiences with programming resources for children

Beside publishing the monthly Free Software in education news our education team answers a lot of question by people who want to use more Free Software in education.

As the edu-team was asked for good resources to teach kids to program, Guido Arnold thought the answer (or more a summary of the answers) might be interesting to others as well. So he published the summary. To improve our education website we ask you to give us feedback on those resources. How do you like them, did you already have experience with some of them, what was good, where did you have problems, and which resources did we miss?

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