Since 2001 the FSFE has been enhancing users' rights by abolishing barriers for software freedom. For 20 years we have been helping individuals and organisations to understand how Free Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination.

For the next two decades we need your help. We want everyone to be able to control their technology. Free Software and its freedoms to use, study, share, and improve are the key to that goal.

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Software Freedom 2020 +++ EU Open Source Strategy +++ New staffers

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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.

A fig leaf
European Commission presented only a fig leaf

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.

Upcoming events

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

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!

Our merchandise is a nice surprise for your loved ones for Christmas - and during the year.

Contribute to our newsletter

If you would like to share any thoughts, pictures, or news, please send them to us. As always, the address is newsletter@fsfe.org. We are looking forward hearing from you!

If you also want to support us and our work, join our community and support us with a donation or a monthly contribution.

Thanks to our community and 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.

Your editor, Erik Albers


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