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Newsletter

AI in EU +++ Open letter to Bundestag +++ Plasma Mobile +++ Meshnet

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In our April Newsletter, we welcome the promising developments on AI in the EU. We address the German Government to demand a clear budget for Free Software. We interview Plasma Mobile developer Bhushan Shah, and talk with Elektra Wagenrad in a podcast episode about Mesh Networking. We congratulate KDE on the world's first eco-certified software.

European Parliament recognises Free Software as key for fair AI

The Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age (AIDA) of the European Parliament voted on its resolution on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age on March 22nd, and underlined the importance of Free Software for AI with a broad majority. We now ask EU co-legislators to take this position into account and to include provisions and guidelines on Free Software in the upcoming legislation.

Public authorities using AI systems should make them publicly available. Public research inventing AI systems should make them publicly available. Transparency in AI technologies is necessary to test them, evaluate their results, and improve them. The FSFE is following closely the legislative process and analysed how AI can remain verifiable and trustworthy as well as lead to further innovation with Free Software.

Germany has ambitious Free Software plans. Will it realise them?

The coalition agreement of the German government set digitisation as a priority and Free Software as a secure and transparent solution. 100 days into the new German government in office, no action has been taken. On the contrary, German administrations are alarmingly close to using Microsoft products, giving up the chance to adopt a strategy based on open interfaces. Alexander Sander, the FSFE's Policy Consultant, explains: "Instead of finally providing a 'Free Software cloud' for administrations, the new government will again rely on costly proprietary applications." We call upon the government to follow its own plans.

Specifically, together with other actors such as the Open Source Business Alliance and the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, the FSFE demands that the German government includes digital sovereignty in the 2022 federal budget and implement already announced initiatives for software freedom. In an open letter (DE) the signatories address the government groups in the Bundestag.

Plasma Mobile: Running a privacy-respecting and secure GNU/Linux phone

What are my options if I want to run my phone with Free Software? We interviewed Plasma Mobile developer Bhushan Shah to learn more about the project. Plasma Mobile is a full Linux-based system which offers a completely transparent development process. When it comes to privacy, Plasma Mobile is one of the most secure operating systems for phones. There is no tracking, spying, nor data mining to craft targeted ads. Bhushan gives a clear overview of Plasma Mobile, including how it is developed, and how to get it.

7 people in front of a garden and a building in a summer day
Bhushan Shah (second from left), developer in the Plasma Mobile project since 2015.

Listen to our new podcast episode. Discover mesh networking.

In our new Software Freedom Podcast episode, Matthias Kirschner talks with our guest, Elektra Wagenrad, about the origins of Freifunk, the B.A.T.M.A.N. protocol, and the Mesh Potato project. If you are new to the world of mesh networking this episode is an easy entrance to it. Elektra explains the theory behind the protocols and dives deeper into its philosophical idea.

Portrait of a woman smiling
Elektra Wagenrad, one of the original developers of the B.A.T.M.A.N. protocol and of the Mesh Potato project. Image is licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0 and created by Andrea Behrendt.

The most energy-efficient PDF reader is Free Software. Congrats, Okular!

To be exact, Okular is a universal document viewer. This means you are not only able to read PDFs, comics, and EPub books, but also you can browse your image files, visualize Markdown documents, and much more. In February 2022, Okular was awarded the Blue Angel ecolabel, the official environmental label awarded by the German government. In 1978, the German Environment Agency was the first to establish an environmental label; this year the label's scope was extended to include software products, making Okular the first ️ever eco-certified computer program.

In order to receive the Blue Angel ecolabel, a program needs to meet many requirements, including transparency, backwards compatibility, and the ability to run the application on hardware at least five years old. Free Software usually excels in these conditions. The FSFE congratulates Okular and all of the KDE community!

Screenshot of comics opened with Okular
Screenshot from KDE's Okular, Illustrations from David Revoy CC-BY-SA-4.0

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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're looking forward to 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, Fani Partsafyllidou