Device Neutrality becomes a reality +++ Stockholm +++ FSFE infrastructure +++ AI
In our January Newsletter, we recognise the importance of the Digital Markets Act as a mostly positive development for software freedom. Read how the lack of public code cost Stockholm €100 million. Our System Hackers team unravel what lies behind the FSFE infrastructure. Vincent Lequertier stresses that AI needs transparency. FOSDEM is coming up.
Device Neutrality finally becomes a reality
The European Parliament adopted the Digital Markets Act, which introduces the principle of Device Neutrality. This is a major first step. The right for end-users to use their own device and operating system is an important factor to guarantee access of Free Software operating systems to dominant platforms. As a daily reality for many users, this option enlarges the audience for Free Software adoption.
The Digital Markets Act protects the users as it requires stricter consent for pre-installed apps, it aims to prevent vendor lock-in, and it requires real time data portability. However, we regret that the voting has not contemplated setting Open Standards as the default to define interoperability.
Lack of public code cost the city of Stockholm €100 million
Parents in Stockholm receive information about their children's schools or kindergartens directly to their devices with the help of Skolplattformen ('School platform'), a digital platform offered by the city of Stockholm. It cost an estimated €100 million and although it was publicly funded, Skolplattformen's code was private. Parents spotted irregularities and security issues in the platform and proceeded to fix the flaws themselves. They created a functional and secure Free Software alternative, Öppna skolplattformen ('Open school platform'). The city of Stockholm took legal measures against the developers who wanted to help.
We interviewed Christian Landberg and Alexander Crawford, two major contributors behind the initiative. According to Alexander Crawford, Öppna skolplattformen changes the conversation around civic tech and digitalisation of the public sector.
Infrastructure living the ideals of software freedom
Can organisations with limited resources be digitally sovereign and still provide modern services? It is not trivial, but the FSFE proves it is possible. We have maximized our control over services and servers by using Free Software. We demonstrate internal and external transparency. The complexity of our systems is bearable, while we provide a variety of useful features.
The FSFE shares an overview of its digital infrastructure in an article that could help other NGOs become independent from proprietary service providers. Let us take you on a journey through our infrastructure and its principles, from shiny user interfaces of our services, crossing the virtualisation methods and monitoring, down to the bare metal servers they are running on. Our infrastructure is managed by the System Hackers team.
Interview with Vincent Lequertier on AI
Vincent Lequertier is a member of the System Hackers team and a researcher of artificial intelligence for healthcare. For 20 years FSFE, we interviewed Vincent about crucial aspects of artificial intelligence. Transparency in AI is necessary to evaluate and understand how data is processed and how results are calculated. Free Software can play a crucial role in making AI more transparent.
Vincent notes that in the health sector some aggregated statistics are widely available. According to his estimate, openness and collaborative aspects of research on AI will improve. The interview unravels cutting edge topics such as the possibility of AI obtaining the legal right to claim copyright.
Save the date
- On Wednesday 19 January, the FSFE Netherlands country team will have its monthly online get-together.
- On Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 February FOSDEM 2022 will take place online, and the FSFE will co-organise the Legal and Policy Devroom again. Last year we co-organised the Legal and Policy Devroom for the first time; it included 11 talks on a rich variety of topics. We look forward to FOSDEM 2022. Join us to learn the latest developments in software freedom. Stay tuned for the schedule.
What we have done
- On 28 December, Alexander Sander, FSFE's Policy Consultant, gave a talk about “Public Money? Public Code! during corona times" at the rC3 conference.
- On 16 December, Lina Ceballos, an FSFE Project Manager, participated in an online session about some of the FSFE's main activities with a focus on "Public Money? Public Code!" and its current status in Spain and in Europe. The talk took place at Trantor Tech Talks; a video is available in Spanish.
- In December, community members published three posts in Planet. A book review of Cory Doctorow‘s novel “Walkaway” praises the story-telling despite a personal distaste for fantasy around “mind scan” technology. An instructional post demonstrates how to disable your internal keyboard/touchpad when a cat arrives. A celebratory post announces the release of PGPainless version 1.0.0. You can read the thoughts of the FSFE community in Planet.
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Your editor, Fani Partsafyllidou