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FSFE Newsletter February 2019

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This month's Newsletter is introducing our new expert policy brochure "Public Money? Public Code" and reflecting the importance of source code availability for trust and security in critical IT-infrastructure. As always the Newsletter gives an overview about the talks given and the booths set-up by our community as well as a short summary of what we have done - this month including FOSDEM, 35C3, FOSS4SMEs and the Next Generation Internet. As a "get active" item, this month we encourage you to participate in our IloveFS-campaign.

FSFE publishes expert brochure about “Public Money? Public Code!"

Convincing decision-makers why more public code would benefit us all should be easy. There are so many good arguments for putting publicly funded code under a Free Software licence: Tax savings, transparency, and innovation – just to name a few. But, in practice, we experience that there are still a lot of basics that need to be explained. Starting with: What is Free Software? Why should governments develop Free Software? What are Free Software business models? To answer these questions and give practical guidelines to decision-makers, we have published a policy brochure that presents the most important facts and arguments about publicly funded code.

This publication answers decision-makers' most common questions and refutes widespread misunderstandings about Free Software. In several articles and contributions from experts, the brochure presents successful Free Software use-cases and inspiring legislation that show that change is already taking place. Overall, the brochure provides practical guidance for moving the modernisation of public infrastructure forward and hints at how procurement guidelines can be updated to include the strong points of Free Software. Downloads and prints are available under a Creative Commons license

Among the contributions included in the brochure, that feature experts from various fields, is an interview with Francesca Bria, Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer for the City of Barcelona, who drives the modernisation of Barcelona's public infrastructure. She says: "The Barcelona City Council supports the FSFE's campaign 'Public Money, Public Code', because we need alliances to make Free Software the default setting in the public sector. The digital public infrastructure that we use should be a public good, owned and controlled by the citizens."

Help us with a donation to print and distribute the new FSFE expert policy brochure

About publishing source code to establish trust in critical infrastructure

In many countries, the Chinese company Huawei is facing distrust after allegations of potential state espionage. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of 5G equipment, the upcoming generation of cellular mobile communications. To ensure that the products and the underlying infrastructure are safe, network providers and politicians proposed an inspection of the equipment's source code. The FSFE welcomes this move to recognize the importance of source code availability , but is afraid that the proposed solution falls too short. Allowing inspection of the secret code by selected authorities and telephone companies might help in this specific case, but will not solve the general problem. Instead, to establish trust in critical infrastructure like 5G, it is a crucial precondition that all software code powering those devices is published under a Free and Open Source Software licence. On this basis, everyone can inspect the code, not only for backdoors, but for all security risks. Only these freedoms allow for independent and continuous security audits which will lead citizens, the economy, and the public sector to trust their communication and data exchange. Furthermore, in order to verify code integrity – so that the provided source code corresponds to the executable code running on the equipment – it is either necessary that there are reproducible builds in case of binary distribution, or that providers are brought into the position to compile and deploy the code on their own.

"We should not only debate the Huawei case but extend the discussion to all critical infrastructure." says Max Mehl, FSFE Programme Manager. "Only with Free and Open Source Software can transparency and accountability be guaranteed. This is a long-known crucial precondition for security and trust. We expect state actors to immediately implement this solution not only for the Huawei case but for all comparable IT security issues."

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What else have we done? Inside and Outside the FSFE

FSFE booth during 35C3, the 35th Chaos Communication Congress

Do not miss: upcoming events with the FSFE

Get Active

On February 14, our community around the globe celebrates "I love Free Software" Day. We would like to encourage you to be part of our online campaign by creating, sharing or simply enjoying love messages all around the world dedicated to Free Software and the people behind it. Enjoy the day, share and refuel your energy!

I love Free Software!

As in previous editions, we are looking forward to seeing you spreading all kind of materials, be they texts, pictures, graphics, scripts or whatever comes to your mind, to show your love to Free Software. Throughout the day, we will share your contributions around the globe on our media channels and collect them for a nice write-up about the love you have for our communities. If you share something, remember to use the hashtag #ilovefs, or if you happen to use the IloveFS visuals on your web platform, website or a blog, please, let us know, so we can include it in our stream.

Contribute to our newsletter

If you would like to share any thoughts, pictures, or news, send them to us. As always, the address is We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Thanks to our community, all the volunteers, supporters and donors who make our work possible. And thanks to our translators, who enable you to read this newsletter in your mother tongue.

Your editor,
Erik Albers

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