COVID-19 +++ Global cooperation +++ Remote working
With the spreading of COVID-19 we are facing a global pandemic that requires a lot of coordinated efforts and asks for new global solutions. Our extraordinary newsletter concentrates on software freedom for global solutions, on Free Software solutions for remote connections and on how the FSFE handles the whole situation. As usual, we highlight our community activities and give tips on what you can do to edutain yourself while staying home. Enjoy the read, stay healthy, and protect freedom.
Global problems need global solutions and local adaption
The global spread of the new Corona virus is said to be still in its beginning and any serious estimations on the impact that countermeasures will have on our daily lives and social organisation are far too early. But there are already some conclusions that we can take from the previous development and current arrangements of our political, social, and economical life. One is that humanity is facing a global problem and so we need global solutions.
This can be the time that more people understand the global potential of Free Software because it is only Free Software that enables global code development, cooperation, and sharing in any jurisdiction. Solutions developed in one country can be reused and adapted in another one. International development agencies and humanitarian movements can help to contain the spread of COVID-19 in any country around the world with Free Software solutions. At the same time only Free Software allows them to adapt a solution to any local needs around the world, for example by translating it into local languages. Any proprietary and privative solution instead will inevitably lead to countless isolated solutions, communication overhead, useless competition about our health desires and creation of problems in our daily work arising from non-interoperability.
Not to forget that a majority of investments in the current crisis and a lot of actors in the medical sector are state-funded. It is a waste of energy and important time to re-invent the same solutions again and again instead of cooperating. It is now even more important than ever to demand, what over 27000 people already ask for, that publicly financed software developed for the public sector must be made publicly available under Free Software licences.
COVID19 apps: They should be Free Software
Free Software is the only solution to offer full transparency and trust in its implementation. More and more people ask about the use and development of apps that aim at helping to contain the corona virus by tracking new infections and their contact persons. The Free Software Foundation Europe demands that any such app may only be introduced on a voluntary basis and the software must be published under a Free Software / Open Source Software licence. Only Free Software offers enough transparency to validate a complete data protection and a compliant use; thus trust can be established.
How the FSFE's work is affected
As always, we keep our eyes open on the well-being of the Free Software ecosystem and keep running our activities like REUSE, Router Freedom or the Next Generation Internet project. We will even intensify the communication with the public via established and new channels online.
But the Corona pandemic also reduces our resources. As you can read in our cancelled events section below, we and other Free Software organisations suffer financially from the physical-distance-ordering and we need your help to get through this phase reasonably well! If you can, please consider joining us as a supporter, by increasing your contribution or by making a one-time donation. Please help us in this important time to help others establishing digital infrastructures based on Free Software. Thank you!
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Free Software For Remote Work
Since more and more people are working remotely now, we wrote a checklist on what you should look for when looking for Free Software. To help people find the right tool for their particular needs that also respects their freedom we also started to publish the setup that the staffers of the FSFE have been used to work with for many years already. Some of our FSFE supporters took the chance to collectively write up a comprehensive list of freedom respecting tools for remote working in our wiki.
Also a lot of individual FSFE supporters made up their mind in the last weeks and started sharing their experiences with tools they use for remote working. Tobias Diekershoff wrote about the experience the Berlin group had with their first online-meeting comparing Jitsi and Big Blue Button (DE), Matthias Kirschner wrote about "Jitsi and the power of shortcuts", Björn Schießle published his introduction to Nextcloud Talk and Vanitas Vitae explains how to Install Jitsi-Meet alongside ejabberd.
Cancelled: upcoming events with the FSFE
It will be to no surprise to you that our own events and the events we were supposed to take part in during the next weeks and months have been cancelled. This puts the Free Software community into difficult times. Real-life meetings now and then are essential for many people inside our vibrant community to keep in touch and are a good chance to breed creativity and inspiring ideas.
For us at the FSFE, booths and talks are among the main channels over which we inform people about Free Software and the FSFE’s work. Our European community is creative in putting information booths on street festivals, hacker camps, vegan gatherings and many occasions more. Now losing the ability to directly contact people does heavily limit the visibility of our organisation and our mission, which naturally comes with a loss in new supporters and donors for our mutual cause. In the case of our own events - like the annual Legal and Licensing Workshop or the “Public Money? Public Code!” conference, it is an even more direct financial burden due to already invested work and non-refundable costs.
If you like to support us and our work and you are saving some costs this year because you are not going to an event that has been cancelled, please consider donating a part of your costs to the organisers that struggle hard and another part to NGOs like the FSFE who struggle as well. And since we cannot spread our word anymore at various events, help us to spread the word. The material we used to send out is also available as downloads. Tell people about Free Software and the FSFE and why we need your help now.
What have we done? Inside and Outside the FSFE
- Max Mehl and Lucas Lasota moved within Germany and individually wanted to connect to the Internet through our own routers. They reported about various hard and soft barriers, to share their experience and help you to take back your rights! Router Freedom concerns all of us and you can find all necessary information to get active against the disruption of Router Freedom and to raise awareness among your community and political representatives on our wiki page.
- Our Policy Expert Brochure "Public Money Public Code – Modernising Public Infrastructure with Free Software" is now available in three more languages: German, Czech, and Brazilian Portuguese
- Nothing new in the proprietary world: new security issues around WhatsApp show the need for decentralised messengers and digital sovereignty.
- One of our last meetings before the shutdown was the FSFE's system hackers meetings. The System Hackers are responsible for the maintenance and development of a large number of services. From the fsfe.org website’s deployment to the mail servers and blogs, from Git to internal services like DNS and so on. The report from Max Mehl reads as a big success and as if they would have known they already prepared to switch between real-meetings and virtual online meetings in the future.
- Back on February 25, our French coordinators organised a debate between candidates for the municipal elections in Paris about their digital program at Sciences Po Paris university. This event was co-organised with student association Espace Numérique and masters association Innovation and Digital Transformation. We'll come in with a full report so long you can watch the full debate (here).
- Gabriel Ku Wei Bin gave a talk about Making Free Software Licensing Easier For All with REUSE at foss north (video), which happened to be held as an online event this year.
- At the Winterkongress Digitale Gesellschaft Matthias Kirschner talked about the ethics of Free Software (video, DE) and Max Mehl about security and Free Software (video, DE).
- Erik Albers was invited as part of an expert panel to give input on the current AI strategy of the German government and its impact on climate change.
- Matthias Kirschner gave a keynote at FOSS Backstage about "The core values of software freedom" (video)
Stories from the Planet
- Henri Bergius writes about how to use Free Software for Cruising sailboat electronics setup with Signal K.
- Matija Šukle writes about How and why to properly write copyright statements in your code.
- Vanitas Vitae reports about the OMEMO Specification Sprint
- Evaggelos Balaskas gives insights about Using LibreDNS with dnscrypt-proxy
Edutain yourself while staying at home
In many countries around the world, people are asked to stay home after work, over weekends and also during vacation periods. If you are looking for some edutainment, the FSFE offers a lot for you. Our Software Freedom Podcast regularly features inspiring people and topics ranging from political questions to community developments to legal issues around Free Software. On our Peertube and Youtube video channels we collect talks by the FSFE and our community members and otherwise thrilling material for hours of binge watching. Our Planet is a collection of individual blogs by our community and the "Our Work" section on the homepage offers hours of reading about insights and backgrounds on the political side of software freedom.
In times like now, in that our lives, work and relationships move more and more into digital realms, it becomes fundamental to tell others about software and users' freedom. Try to see a chance in the crisis. Use the time to help people understand how Free Software can help us to find global solutions that can help everyone no matter their background or the jurisdiction they happen to be in. Inspire them about why it is so important for a free society to build its digital infrastructure on free and decentralized solutions. Note down your thoughts in a blog post or write in social media, maybe share and offer your experience or know-how. Also consider to sharing your thoughts with us so we can reflect them in the next Newsletter.
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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 native languages.