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FSFE Newsletter – June 2015

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For whom the bell tolls?

On the first Wednesday of May, a coalition of digital liberties organizations, including FSFE, and a multitude of individual activists held the International Day Against DRM 2015 to raise awareness about digital restrictions management, a pervasive and deeply entrenched mechanism designed to plunder the citizenry of the concept of ownership.

Along with numerous other defenders of consumer rights and digital liberties we published a statement asking legislators to guarantee the traditional right to tinker with our property. This was necessitated by both the prior steady erosion of the rights to repair and modify our belongings and the renewed push by various manufacturing companies, like John Deere, one of the largest manufacturers of agricultural equipment, to deny their customers the right to modify their own property in whatever way the customers wish, using bad laws like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forbid consumers to circumvent or remove certain defects from their purchases.

FSFE is looking for a systems architect

Due to sustained growth we have experienced in the last few years, our infrastructure has developed into a state where it is no longer able to fulfil our needs. Therefore, we are looking for a systems architect to help us document our existing infrastructure dependencies, develop this into a maintainable architecture, and help our system administrators migrate our services to the new architecture.

If you have a good grasp of Free Software, creating technical documentation, virtualization, MTAs, database servers, and web services and you wish to help us ensure scalability and continued availability of both Fellowship services and our internal tools, then you are welcome to apply by contacting our Executive Director, Jonas Öberg. This is your chance to gain a deeper understanding of the technical challenges faced by our volunteers and staff, and help us overcome these hurdles!

Something completely different

Get active: call on legislators to oppose TTIP, CETA

This newsletter started with DRM; it will also end with DRM: unscrupulous actors are attempting to use secretly negotiated trade agreements TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) to make it extremely difficult for future governments to get rid of current bans on circumventing digital restrictions mechanisms. Instead, they would force governments to impose ever-harsher penalties on anyone who dares to tinker with their property.

We at FSFE would rather avoid that future. Hence, we are asking you to contact your elected representatives both in the European parliament and various legislative bodies throughout Europe and let them know that you wish European laws to remain the province of European legislators. Ask them to oppose secretly negotiated treaties; ask them to demand transparency and openness; and, most importantly, do it now and tell your legislators about the things you like to do with your possessions.

It would also be nice if you could tell them what you would be unable to do if those secretive trade agreements were ratified, but you cannot: we do not know the current state of the negotiations. This is quite annoying, but despair not: most of our elected representatives are also in the dark, and they are unlikely to enjoy it. This offers us a unique opportunity to tune them against the deals before they are finalized and presented for ratification: let us get our representatives to oppose these deals while they can make a decision based on democratic principles and need not yet decide whether the economic perks outweigh the proposed harm to a free society.

Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors who enable our work,
Heiki Lõhmus, FSFE