AI in EU +++ Open letter to Bundestag +++ Plasma Mobile +++ Meshnet
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.
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.
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!
Save the date!
Thursday 14 April is the day of three FSFE local group meetings. At 18:00-21:00 Zurich will have its regular in-person monthly meeting. Anyone interested in Free Software and wanting to stand up for the ideals of Free Software can join. The group will discuss ways to reach out to new people and the upcoming Open Education Day. Hamburg is having its regular in-person monthly meeting too. Please join the group's mailing list for more information. Berlin has its regular online monthly meeting. Subscribe to the mailing list or follow the group's Mastodon page to stay tuned.
On Wednesday 20 April, the FSFE country team Netherlands will have its regular online monthly meeting.
Date TBA. The FSFE local group Aarhus, Denmark, has delayed its first meeting. If you are interested, now is a great time to contact Carsten Agger (agger [at] fsfe [dot] org).
What we have done
On 30 March, Erik Albers, FSFE Programme Manager and sustainability expert, showcased in the Digital Social Summit that software design and Free Software licencing impacts the sustainability of hardware and infrastructure.
On 24 March, the FSFE local group Berlin brainstormed with Jessica Wawrzyniak from Digital Courage how an allowlist of suitable Free Software for Education could work, and how the German administration could compile such a list.
On 20 March, the FSFE Women group met online to discuss past and future events.
On 19 March, the participants of the Upcycling Android workshop flashed phones in Berlin.
On 16 March, the FSFE Country team Netherlands had its monthly online meeting. The team discussed the new telecommunications law in Belgium, and the potential actions to secure Router Freedom. The volunteers have already contacted Neutrinet. The government's open source strategy was also an important topic, as well as the increased dependency on DigID, the Dutch digital identity app. On 19 March the team met in person in the Netherlands Linux Users meeting.
On 15 March, Erik Albers participated in 'Sustainable software for phones that last', a webinar organised by Fairphone. A panel of experts discussed why the longevity of phones continues to decline. Within the panel, Erik took a stand on how the universal right to install Free Software operating systems on any device will help us to live in a more sustainable digital society.
On 12 March, Matthias Kirschner, author of Ada & Zangemann, read the book during Chemnitzer Linux-Tage. A video from an author reading during Wintercongress is now available.
On 10 March, the FSFE local group Berlin had its monthly meeting. The participants discussed matters of financing and security related to Free Software. The group discussed the recent plans of Mozilla to create privacy-friendly advertising.
On 10 March, the FSFE local group Zurich discussed ways to reach out to new people, and explored possible actions such as workshops and information events.
On 9 March, the FSFE local group Hamburg had its monthly meeting.
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Your editor, Fani Partsafyllidou