Software Freedom 2020 +++ EU Open Source Strategy +++ New staffers
In our Newsletter November, we review our annual report "Software Freedom in Europe" and the new Free Software Strategy by the European Commission. We have new staffers, a new call for FSFE community projects, REUSE is taking off, the local group in Zurich received an award, and so much more has happened to discover.
Software Freedom in Europe 2020
2020 is a year to remember. While many may remember the pandemic, there have nevertheless been many positive changes in terms of Free Software in recent months. In fact, a lot has changed. You can now read in one document how busy our movement was in our annual report Software Freedom in Europe 2020.
The EU and the WHO followed our arguments that publicly funded Corona-related contact tracing apps should be published only under a Free Software license. Several cities, including Munich, promised to rely more on Free Software in the future. We convinced publicly funded hackathons to publish their results as Free Software, and the largest conservative party in Europe, the German CDU, resolved to join the FSFE in demanding that software developed with public money should be publicly available as Free Software.
We convinced the Board of European Regulators for Electronic Communications to side with the FSFE's demand that any router and modem be under the full control of the user. With our REUSE initiative, we aim to provide simple best practices and accompanying tools for machine-readable licensing. KDE, one of the largest and oldest projects in our community, adopted the REUSE guidelines in 2020. We now know of around 300 projects which have benefitted from REUSE.
We participated in multiple European public consultations, introduced a new way for our community to get their local community projects funded, moved from physical to online events, had many exciting guests in our regular Software Freedom Podcast, relaunched our website, produced a new multilingual Free Software shirt, and there have been many other activities to report.
Enjoy reading our annual report and discover your personal favorite success story of our community in 2020. This success is based on the shoulders of all the people and communities who support our work.
Join our European movement now and make our success your success.
New EU Free Software Policy misses concrete ideas or actions
The EU Commission published its new "Open Source Strategy". While the proposed strategy recognises the benefits of Free Software, it lacks concrete targets and indicators to implement the strategy. Instead of the hoped-for major step, which would reflect current developments around the debates on digital sovereignty and state of the art administration, the Commission has presented only a fig leaf. What the European Commission presented is simply too little for a strategy. With a lack of clear task descriptions and processes or concrete guidelines for the implementation of wholehearted statements and indicators to monitor success, we worry that the strategy will end up accomplishing too little.
From a general perspective, the strategy mainly repeats previous commitments and activities; sustainable and verifiable approaches are sought in vain. And while the benefits of Free Software are fully emphasised and the Commission is on paper ambitious in its future use of Free Software, concrete goals are rare and a clear commitment to the use of Free Software is lacking.
With this little engagement from the EU Commission it is once more clear to see how important civil society organisations like the FSFE are to make our solutions heard. In contrast to the uninspiring strategy by the central European technocratic institution, our direct bottom-up approach helped many public administrations in Europe find the road to freedom "by themselves" in 2020. Read in our annual report about Munich, Hamburg, Beniganim and the Netherlands taking steps towards more software freedom.
Christmas is coming and our merchandise is a nice surprise for your loved ones or yourself. Order now before we run short.
New staffers: Linda Wagener and Lina Ceballos
Linda Wagener joined the FSFE team as our new office assistant. Linda has an M.A. in communication studies and is looking forward to supporting the organisation and accounting of the FSFE, because - as Linda states - "I believe in the importance of the advancement of free access to information and the means to study and understand the world."
Lina Ceballos is our new intern until March 2021. Lina is an attorney from Colombia with an M.A. in development and governance. Lina is looking forward to working with our community and says: "I am quite excited to be part of this organisation, since one of my main drivers has been always the construction of a more transparent and free society, in this specific case in a digital society."
Call to apply for FSFE support for your local project
We are currently running our second call for FSFE community projects. We happily support you with our expertise, our information material, our networks, or even financially. Participating is as simple as filling out a short online form until 10 January 2021.
Among the successful applications in the last round is GnuLinux.ch, which we support with promotion, a new logo, stickers, and a microphone set for their regular podcast. Another project we will support is Freedombox install events, which we will support with premises. If you need support for a FSFE community project, don't hesitate to apply.
Together with a lot of other civil (digital) rights organisations, the FSFE forms the cluster "about:freedom" during the annual Chaos Communication Congresses, which have become one of the biggest hacking-related events in Europe. The event takes place from the 27th to the 30th of December, this year for the first time online. We are currently reviewing the proposals we received in our call for participation to offer you a good choice of software freedom related content.
What have we done? Inside and outside the FSFE
- Our REUSE campaign is taking off. Some weeks ago KDE adopted the REUSE guidelines and a new screencast has been produced to show how to make a repository REUSE compliant. Also the German Corona Warn App's iOS version is REUSE compliant now and we helped almost a hundred projects so far that are supported by the FSFE's help in the NGI0 project to do likewise.
- The local FSFE group in Zurich created a website called "Learning like a pro" (original German: "Lernen wie die Profis") that explains the needs and benefits of using Free Software in education. It proceeds describing individual Free Software solutions and how these solutions in particular can be used to make school learning efficient and easy. This project has now been awarded a special award by the Dinacon conference - a conference on digital sustainability. The FSFE is proud of the Zurich local group's success and recommends that you look at other interesting local projects in 2020 in our yearly report
- Several sessions were organised by the FSFE for this year's SFScon. We have a long-lasting relationship with that conference. Last year we also celebrated our annual community meeting at SFScon. This year, we focused on talks in which legal issues are clarified and current political developments are analysed. Concrete practical questions concerning compliance were addressed as well as questions about machine learning and problems that arise in the development of a free smartphone. In talks from our own staffers, Alexander Sander talked about our "Public Money? Public Code!" campaign and Lucas Lasota about the "Challenges ahead for software freedom in Europe".
- The FSFE participated in the consultation by the European Commission regarding "Interoperable digital public services – European Interoperability Framework evaluation & strategy" in that we highlighted the crucial role Free Software and Open Standards play for interoperability.
- The FSFE demanded establishing Free Software as a standard for publicly funded software and concrete data-oriented monitoring of the adopted strategies with measurable reports of progress evaluation in our consultation feedback for "eGovernment services across the EU (ISA² programme) - final evaluation" by the European Commission.
- Germany tested their public alert system with an official warning day in September. The proprietary apps involved caused the event to become an official failure. We analysed the situation and found more robust solutions that respect user rights.
- Thomas Friese published a blog post (DE) in which he tells the background story and gives insights on the creative work behind the Software Freedom Podcast jingle.
- A coalition of organisations in Switzerland produce the 7at7 event series. In its November edition, the FSFE's There is no cloud campaign was part of a virtual exhibition on "campaigning for digital rights".
- From October 2020 until March 2021 our legal expert Lucas Lasota is conducting a course on software licensing at Humboldt University of Berlin.
- Our policy expert Alexander Sander gave talks about our "Public Money? Public Code!" campaign at the openSUSE + LibreOffice Virtual Conference, at the Open Web Lounge / CMS Unconference, at the Open Source Summit Europe, and at FOSSCOMM2020.
- Our president, Matthias Kirschner, gave a talk about "The long road to freedom" at the KNF Conference.
- Like many local FSFE groups, the Dutch country team now started with regular online meetings.
Get Equipped (aka Get Active)
Christmas is coming and if you'd like to make a loved one happy and spread the message of Free Software at the same time, check out our online shop. We have a new multilingual Free Software shirt for men and women, in beautiful colors and with a print of a big heart. Our "No Cloud" and "Public Money? Public Code!" shirts go very well in any professional setting, as well as in private. And our "100 Freedoms" puts a smile on any insider's face.
We have buttons, magnets and for the parents we have our highly demanded baby bibs and kid's t-shirts stating "I am a fork ()".
We cannot refill our stock before Christmas. So get your special present before it is too late!
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Your editor, Erik Albers