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FSFE’s assembly at Chaos Communication Congress (31C3)

The Chaos Communication Congress has been held for the 31st time (“31C3” in short) in the end of 2014 (December 27 to 30) and FSFE was present for the first time with a so-called assembly. An assembly at the Chaos Communication Congress is much more than a “usual” booth that you might think of from other conferences. It is also a place to join in, to sit down and – in our case – to talk about Free Software. Hence, the FSFE assembly was a booth and a meeting place at the same time – for 4 days, day and night, 24 hours.

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Internet (un)governance in Turkey

Do you remember the protests around #GeziPark in Istanbul, Turkey, in June 2013? People were heavily using Twitter and other social media to mobilize and organize an opposition against Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government. Since then, the Internet is Erdogan’s personal enemy.

If we look at a rough timeline of Erdogan’s recent turkish government decisions on internet policy:

  • February 2014: Turkey passes a new internet law No 5651, to censor the web and for data retention (Guardian, BoingBoing). content:
    • block any website within four hours without first seeking a court ruling
    • store all data on web users’ activities for two years and make it available to the authorities upon request
  • March 2014: Turkish government blocks Youtube and Twitter ahead of national elections. (anmnesty international)
  • April – June 2014: Twitter compiles with court decisions to aid and assist Turkish authorities in ceonsoring political content. (Daily Sabah)
  • May to July 2014: Turkey blocks access to approximately 48.000 websites

… we can see that Internet governance in Turkey equals censorshop. However …

What t f?
#IGF2014’s agenda is about reforming ICANN, privacy, fundamental rights, surveillance and net neutrality. Now, guess, who sends most participants into the discussions and decisions about these important topics? Erdogan’s government and authorities.

If you are interested in more details about Turkish governments attack on the internet, read why Yaman Akdeniz and Kerem Altiparmak are boycotting the Internet Governance Forum.
Both are speaking at the Internet Ungovernance Forum, instead. It’s first sentence reads:

We’re organizing the Internet Ungovernance Forum on September 4-5, for people who demand that fundamental freedoms, openness, unity and net neutrality remain the building blocks of the Internet.

The Free Software Pact for the European Elections 2014

The French Free Software Association April is running its “Free Software Pact” campaign again for this years European Elections. Aim of this campaign is to enlighten candidates for the European Elections 2014 about Free Software by signing a “Free Software Pact” at the same time. Core demands of this pact are:

[…] I therefore undertake to:

  • Encourage all administrations, all public or local services to prefer Free Software and open standards in their choices, purchases and own developments;
  • Support active policies in favour of Free Software, and oppose any discrimination against it ;
  • Stand up for Free Software authors’ and users’ rights, especially by requiring the modification of any legal text currently weakening those rights, and opposing any legal project that would lead to such consequences.

In the past, April was very successful with this campaign. For the last European Elections, 2009, they have been able to collect 231 signatories out of 10 different countries. Unfortunately, this time there have been some starting problems, that is why time is already running short. The more urgent it is to become active immediately. This blogpost is supposed to help you in becoming active.

Template for re-use

I just started today to contact the list of candidates of the conservative party CDU here in the state of Berlin, Germany. In the following you will find the text that I have been using until now. Maybe it can be helpful for one or the other in phrasing his own text. Anyway, you are free to use this text in a whole, in part or as an inspiration for your own activity.

Dear Sir/Madam [Name]

I am a [ member / engaged / volunteer …] of the Free Software Foundation Europe and I am writing you today because you are running for office in the name the of the [name of party] for the European Elections 2014.

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I love Free Software: OsmAnd

Today, like every year on Valentine’s Day, the FSFE is running its “I love Free Software” campaign: a day to show and celebrate your love for Free Software. That is why I take my chance today to thank the developers of OsmAnd for all the work they are doing!

Last year in summer, I was doing a bicycle trip for some days through the northern part of Germany, especially through the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte and along the Baltic Sea. Generally, when I am on bicycle trips, I prefer to cycle aside from roads and motorways but along the paths, the hiking trails or even dirt tracks. That was exactly the time, when I fell in love with OsmAnd, a maps & navigation application for Android systems.

This is not just because it gives me the ability to use Free Software with really good maps for navigation. This is especially because you can download any maps of the world (as long as you have enough space to save them) whenever you like (While you are on Wifi, e.g.) and use it afterwards completely offline. For example, when you go to some foreign country, you can download the entire map of this country before and then enjoy a complete maps&navigation system without the need of having internet access or having to pay any roaming charges for internet access. Or, like in my case, when you cycle long distances through landscape (where you miss power plugs as well as network connectivity most of the time) you can stay in flight-mode all the time and keep on cycling with navigation for days. In addition, the maps are really good and detailed and you can see even tiny hiking trails to follow. You can also set your own favorite points on the map, without having to fear that these favorite points will be send to or tracked by any server – as you are using it offline.

Last, but not least, you can download OsmAnd from F-droid, the Free Software App Repository, so you can use all OsmAnd features on an Android based operating system without the need of any Google account.

In short: Dear OsmAnd developers, thank you very much for this useful app. Keep the good work going, I love you guys!

FOSDEM 2014 – FSFE, Fellowship and speaking schedule

Just three days left until FOSDEM 2014. For every Fellow and friend of FSFE who is attending, here is some useful information:

As every year, the FSFE has a booth that you will find in building K. This is a good chance to meet other Fellows and staff of the FSFE and to have a chat with each other.

On Saturday afternoon, at 16 hours, there is a general Fellowship meeting in front of the cafeteria in between the main building and building K. Erik will tell you about the European Elections project 2014 and how you can participate. In addition, this is again a good chance to get to know Fellows from all over Europe and discuss various topics.

On Saturday night, starting from 8pm, there is a FSFE social event in a small bar in the center of Brussels. Feel free to join and enjoy an evening together. The address:

Au Vieux Port
21 Quai au Bois a Bruler
1000 Bruxelles

Also, be aware, that many Fellows will speak during FOSDEM. Here are the Fellows that give a presentation during FOSDEM and I am aware of:
(chronological order)

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FSFE First European Coordinators Meeting

Ten days ago, on September 27 to 29, FSFE held its first European Coordinators Meeting (#ECM) in Berlin. Therefore, the FSFE invited Fellowship Coordinators from all over Europe to come for a weekend to exchange knowledge and visions between FSFE staff and the Fellowship. In total, we have been 22 people from 10 different countries which served as a good base for a lot of input. As the main organiser of the weekend, I would like to give you a report and feedback of the weekend.

Group Picture of FSFE's first European Coordinators Meeting

On Friday evening, all attendees were gathering inside FSFE’s new office in Berlin for a warm-up meeting. As the office is pretty small, shortly the room became very crowded with so many people. On the other hand, this was a good way to directly get in first contact with most people, as everybody was just standing next to each other. And, standing in the office, was also a good chance for everyone to directly grab FSFE’s promotion material.

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About ownership, remote control and privacy

Recently, I made a blogpost about the ownership of your own device and how control of technology is directly linked with the freedom of society – as well as with the freedom of each individual. The argument made in that post was, that remote control of technology in the hands of manufacturers put users out of their own control and makes censorship, supervision and control of society more and more easy and – therefore – likely to happen. Image of a router that looks like a camera

Just some weeks later, Edward Snowden leaked documents that show how the NSA was granted access to users data from US internet giants like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and many more. These documents show that remote storage of private data puts users out of control of their privacy. As we will see, the worst still is to come: remote private data storage by a machine that is under remote control.

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Digital and physical restrictions on your own device

Ownership of content and devices

About digital restrictions

Today, May 3rd 2013, is the international day against Digital Restrictions Management, powered by the Free Software Foundation. Usually, the term Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) refers to various restrictions that companies – or any other content provider – impose on digital media and data. These restrictions are there to let providers decide what you can do with your media and data and what not. By this, they keep you out of having true ownership of your data. This data is defective by design – no matter how much money you maybe paid for it. And it brings us into a world where we do not longer “buy” anything but only “license” the use of it. Restrictions like these evolve, just until one day when a licenser may legally decide to suddenly delete everything you have bought – remotely!

This year’s day against DRM focusses on a new and global threat to everything we are used to know about the World Wide Web: the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is discussing an Encrypted Media Extensions proposal (EME), that aims at incorporating support for DRM into HTML5. HTML is in the very heart of the Internet. Establishing DRM into HTML might become a terrific threat to the freedom of the Internet, to Free Software browsers and users freedom in general.
I hope, many people around the world join FSF and FSFE or align with other organisations in their fight against DRM in HTML5. Please, sign the petition and ring the bells as loud as you can to make other people aware of this misleading development.

Now, I would like to use this day to shed light on another issue. Something, that DRM not necessarily relates to, but, is indeed related to it: ownership of your own device.

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#ilovefs everywhere

Today is the day to show your love for Free Software. Here is my message:

I love Free Software because it is in the very heart of a 21st century society that respects the rules of privacy, autonomy, democracy, participation and the freedom of speech.

(Just to list a few of its countless good characteristics)

I would love to see this message going out to the people that decide on our daily lives, our legal and educational framework. By promoting and using Free Software, they have the chance to set up the roots for a truly interconnected and transnational society. Hence, my message today is addressed to all of you in the European Parliament:

European Parliament celebrating #IloveFS

Description: The European Parliament celebrating and promoting Free Software – for a Free Society. Licensed under CC 3.0 BY-SA