Router Freedom in Europe +++ Hamburg pro Free Software +++ European Parliament
In our June Newsletter read among other things about the FSFE's achievements regarding Router Freedom in Europe, about a new coalition agreement in Hamburg that puts a focus on Free Software and about the European Parliament demanding "Public Money? Public Code!". As always, also read about our diverse community activities.
Router Freedom in Europe challenged by new set of rules
Since 2013, the FSFE has been advocating for Router Freedom in Europe with outstanding results in Germany and with positive influence across Europe. Now, a new set of rules comes into play regarding Router Freedom, the new Guidelines on the Location of the Network Termination Point (NTP). These are the draft results by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). In a next step, these guidelines have to be implemented locally by states' National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs). We summarised the positive outcomes as well as the challenges ahead.
On the positive side, BEREC acknowledged the contribution brought into the discussion by the FSFE. Most important, BEREC modified the official text in order to adopt our position to the extent that Router Freedom should be the rule when determining the NTP. BEREC also explicitly recognised a lot of other arguments we brought into the discussion in favor of real Router Freedom - from net neutrality to end-users' digital sovereignty to improved innovation and competition. Unfortunately, the new guidelines from BEREC still grant the different NRAs the discretionary power to restrict Router Freedom if they decide that there is an "objective technological necessity" for routers to be part of the ISP's network.
These vague terms used by the guidelines will probably cause discrepancies during the national implementations of 27 different countries. Now help us monitor their implementation. The next six months will be essential to understanding if the NRAs' approach will benefit or harm Router Freedom.
Hamburg focuses more on Free Software
Last month we reported about the new coalition agreement in Munich committing to the principle of "Public Money? Public Code!". This month we are happy to announce that the new coalition agreement in Hamburg goes in a similar direction and sets a focus on Free Software.
In order to strengthen the digital sovereignty of Hamburg, the city wants to use more Free Software in the future (see coalition agreement in German). The goal is to minimise the dependence on individual providers and create transparency. Wherever it appears meaningful, cooperation with other administrations should be established. Unfortunately, the coalition agreement still contains several loopholes, for example for procurement procedures and diffuse justifications that could be used to excuse many protections for proprietary software vendors.
Discharge procedure in the European Parliament
In the middle of May, the European Parliament voted on the discharge of several EU institutions. In order to avoid vendor lock-ins, to be more transparent and to run more secure systems, the European Parliament recommends in its resolutions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) that "software developed for the institution be made publicly available under free and open-source software licence". At the FSFE we are happy to see our "Public Money? Public Code!" demands being amplified by the European Parliament. We will keep an eye on the EU institutions, to see if they will follow the European Parliaments' recommendations in the future.
The biggest financial impact the FSFE faces in these times of physical distancing is the cancellation of Free Software conferences, including our own events. To keep the software freedom movement solid and alive, please consider donating a part of your conference budget to Free Software organisations, including the FSFE.
What have we done? Inside and outside the FSFE
- In the last Newsletter we reported about the Dutch minister for internal affairs Raymond Knops commiting to a "Free Software by default" policy and underlining its benefits for society. This month we are happy to report that the Dutch FSFE team was able to convince the team behind OperationAIR - an easily producible emergency ventilator for which parts could mainly be sourced locally - to provide the software under a Free Software license.
- Etalab is a department of the French public administration in charge of digital affairs that maintains two lists of Free Software. One is about the Free Software recommended for the public sector while the other one links to Free Software repositories created by the public sector. To find out more about the two lists deployed by Etalab we conducted an interview with Bastien Guerry from Etalab.
- The European Commission has launched an evaluation of some central concepts of EU competition law. In order to contribute to a fair and inclusive assessment, the FSFE took part in the public consultation. Since 2001 the FSFE has strongly advocated in favour of Free Software technologies because of their benefits to a competitive market.
- Alexander Sander gave the keynote about "Public Money Public Code – Global problems need global solutions!" at the online event Özgürkon.
- A recording of Erik Albers' talk about how to make Free Software a topic in democratic elections that was given in 2017 at Kielux Linuxtage now has been published (DE).
Many of our local groups do online-meetings now, from local group meetings in Berlin, to regional group meetings in the Rhineland, to country team meetings in Italy and Spain. Most of these meetings are open for FSFE friends to participate. Many other organisations who care about software freedom and digital rights run online-meetings as well. Reach out to them and get to know some new people, discuss with them some burning topics around Free Software or related topics. And use Free Software to participate.
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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.