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Netherlands: Participation app remains closed to the public

11. Juni 2021 um 01:00

Netherlands: Participation app remains closed to the public

The Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kammer) debates in public, as it should. But as not everyone has the opportunity to go to Den Hague and sit in the gallery, the Tweede Kamer released an app to follow the debates via livestream. Unfortunately, this app not is released under a Free Software licence. Our Dutch volunteer Jos van den Oever wanted to participate but was not able to run the app on his device and got active.

In principle, it is a good idea to create and use technical solutions to increase the transparency of parliaments. However, the implementation in the Netherlands with the Debat Direct app is the opposite, as the app is not accessible to everyone. With the Debat Direct app, citizens can follow parliamentary debates easily from everywhere – but not with every device. The app is only available in the Apple, Google, and Microsoft app stores and is not available under a Free Software licence. A similar functionality is offered in an online webapp. Our Dutch volunteer Jos van den Oever wanted to participate and use the app on his Firefox OS phone - a Free Software operating system for mobile phones - unfortunately without success. Therefore Jos tried to get the app's source code in January 2018 in order to make it also accessible on other devices. It turned out to be a long fight.

Public Money? Public Code!

Request under PSI

The request for the source code invoked the Dutch implementation of the European Public Sector Information (PSI) directive (Wet hergebruik overheidsinformatie). The PSI directive allows public information to be requested in the original, reusable form in which it is present at the public institution. It is worth noting that the Parliament is exempt from Freedom of Information requests to make non-public information public, and so the PSI directive is only applicable if information is already public. However, for almost two decades now a large majority of Dutch MPs have been asking their government to use and publish software under a Free Software licence in order to give everybody the right to use, study, share, and improve the code. But so far Parliament has not led by example. Jos' request was not complied with; the code remained closed to the public. Jos did not give up and brought the case to court.

Reverse Engineering

Unfortunately the court did not agree with Jos and decided that source code is not the reusable form of software. However, most of the source code was made public on the website of the app as source maps. Jos wrote a script to save the js files from the source maps and managed to largely recreate the app from these files and reverse engineered build files. But even though Jos, and anyone else, may retrieve the source code, it remains without a proper licence; it can be studied, but not shared or improved.

Court Case

Jos appealed with the newly discovered source maps, which resulted in a hearing on 17 March 2021. Jos was the plaintiff at the hearing at the highest general administrative court in the Netherlands, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division at the Council of State (CoS). In the hearing, the Parliament argued that the source maps do not contain the source code, even though Jos submitted the source code that he extracted to the hearing. On 31 March 2021, the CoS ruled that Parliament does not have to publish the source code since, in their judgement, the source code is not public. So even though it is factually public, via source maps, it is not legally public according to the CoS judgment. In other words: it is not public because Parliament says it is not public.

As weird as that may sound, from a legal perspective the PSI directive does not apply to the Parliament and thus the app does not need to be made public. The bright side of the decision is that this does not say anything negative about the possibility of obtaining source code for software that is available publicly.

The FSFE therefore calls upon the Dutch Parliament to impose rules on itself, to act transparently, and to publish the source code of such applications under a Free Software licence in the future.

Here you can read more about the activity (Dutch): https://broncode.org

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REUSE Booster hilft Freie-Software-Projekten bei Lizenzierung und Urheberrecht

09. Juni 2021 um 01:00

REUSE Booster hilft Freie-Software-Projekten bei Lizenzierung und Copyright

REUSE ist eine Reihe von Best Practices, die die Lizenzierung von Freier Software wesentlich vereinfachen. Es hilft Entwickelnden mit einfachen Leitlinien, ihr Copyright und die Bedingungen für die Wiederverwendung von Code zu deklarieren und stellt Hilfsdokumente und niedrigschwellige Werkzeuge zur Verfügung, um die Arbeit zu erledigen. Mit REUSE Booster geben wir nun direkte Unterstützung dabei für Freie Software-Projekte.

Von Anfang an war es das Ziel von REUSE, einer Initiative unter der Leitung der Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), Lizenzierung und Urheberrecht für Entwickler drastisch zu vereinfachen, insbesondere für solche, die keine juristische Erfahrung und Unterstützung haben. Dieses Ziel wurde bereits erreicht.

REUSE bietet standardisierte Möglichkeiten, alle Dateien eines Projektes mit der jeweiligen Lizenz und dem Copyright zu kennzeichnen. Für Entwickler ist es einfacher als je zuvor, Freie Software zu entwickeln und ihre Bedingungen für die Wiederverwendung von Code klar zu kommunizieren. REUSE bietet ein Tutorial und eine FAQ, sowie das REUSE Helper Tool und eine API, um einst manuelle Prozesse zu automatisieren. Wir arbeiten kontinuierlich daran, all dies zu verbessern. Aber wir gehen noch einen Schritt weiter.

Bühne frei für REUSE Booster

Mit REUSE Booster gehen wir einen Schritt weiter. Wir laden Freie-Software-Projekte ein, sich zu registrieren, um Hilfe von den Rechtsexperten der FSFE zu erhalten. Wie der Name schon sagt, wird dies den Prozess der Umsetzung der Best Practices sowie das allgemeine Verständnis von Lizenzierung und Copyright stark beschleunigen.

Angenommene Projekte werden zu einem Kick-off-Workshop eingeladen, in dem der Prozess und typische Fragen geklärt werden. Anschließend erhält jedes Projekt eine individuelle Auswertung, die mögliche Herausforderungen auf dem Weg zur vollständigen REUSE-Konformität aufzeigt. Sollten unvorhergesehene Probleme auftreten, gibt es direkte Ansprechpartner, die Hilfestellung geben können. Zu guter Letzt werden wir praktische Ratschläge geben, wie man eine beständig gute Kommunikation von Lizenzen und Copyright aufrechterhalten kann.

Die FSFE bietet bereits ähnliche Unterstützung für alle Projekte im Next Generation Internet Zero (NGI0) Projekt. Als Partner des Konsortiums helfen wir den Entwicklern, lizenz- und urheberrechtliche Unklarheiten zu beseitigen und rechtliche Fallstricke zu vermeiden. Darüber hinaus übernehmen viele von ihnen die Best Practices von REUSE, um ihre Lizenzkonformität zu optimieren. Auf dieser praktischen Erfahrung bauen wir nun auf und ermöglichen es anderen Projekten, davon zu profitieren. Ermöglicht wird dies durch REUSE-Sponsoren wie Siemens und die individuelle Unterstützung durch Freiwillige und Unterstützer der FSFE.

Wenn Ihr Freies Software-Projekt Unterstützung erhalten möchte, um REUSE-konform zu werden, registrieren Sie sich bis spätestens 8. Juli 2021. Bitte verbreiten Sie auch die Nachricht und informieren Sie andere Entwicklerinnen und Entwickler über diese Möglichkeit.

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Cory Doctorow +++ Artificial Intelligence +++ New Staffer Fani Partsafyllidou

31. Mai 2021 um 01:00

Cory Doctorow +++ Artificial Intelligence +++ New Staffer Fani Partsafyllidou

In our May Newsletter read about our time traveller Cory Doctorow who sends his wishes for 20 Years FSFE from utopian 2041, Router Freedom developments in Greece, Germany, and Austria as well as AI application benefits under Free Software licenses and as usual our other diverse community activities.

20 Years FSFE: Time traveller Cory Doctorow sends his wishes from utopian 2041!

Prolific Sci-fi author Cory Doctorow envisions the world in 2041 and informs us that humankind was able to solve major world problems thanks to collective work and mutual sharing of knowledge. Doctorow has been a vocal supporter of the FSFE for many years now. In his video he is celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the FSFE in his own fascinating way: Doctorow is travelling in time to greet us and congratulate us on our 40 year anniversary, talking to us from 2041.

His time travel allows him to see the critical importance of the FSFE in the transition to a digital society. In the author’s words ‘In those two decades we have seen massive decentralization of the internet thanks and part to deep reforms to our anti-trust and monopoly law, mandates for interoperability and open APIs’. This is why Doctorow is thanking the FSFE for our next 20 years of fostering freedom and decentralisation.

Rapid developments in Router Freedom in Greece, Germany, and Austria

Rapid developments in Router Freedom are being made in the EU countries as an EU reform of telecommunications law is being transposed into national jurisdictions. The implementation process has been complex and has led to different solutions which may negatively affect Router Freedom. The FSFE has been closely monitoring national legislation on telecommunications and actively taken part in public consultations together with local organisations to support legislative changes in favour of Router Freedom. For example, in Greece, the FSFE and six other organisations supported the preliminary decision of the Greek regulator for incorporating Router Freedom in the national legislation.

The EU is in process of reform of telecom law and it will affect Router Freedom.

The next months will be crucial for Router Freedom in EU countries. There are challenges ahead. Differently from Greece, Germany has moved in a direction to reevaluate the consolidated framework, which can lead to more restrictions to end-users rights. In Austria, the fate of Router Freedom will be decided by the national regulatory agency RTR after the full implementation of the telecom reform.

Achieving accuracy and fairness in Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications using Free Software

Vincent Lequertier published an article stating the reasons why AI applications released under a Free Software license can prevent known pitfalls in AI, making its use both efficient and fair. Three elements of AI should be provided openly: the source code used to train the AI, the datasets, and the trained AI models. Being able to understand how AI works will enable us to correct unfair discrimination generated by AI and give the opportunity for everyone to improve its transparency. Furthermore, releasing AI as Free Software can help fostering innovation in this field.

Vincent also suggested in a blog post on FSFE's Planet that the successful imposition of checklists in crucial sectors can be used as an example of good practice in AI development.

This year the FSFE celebrates its 20th anniversary. Support our work for the next 20 years to come

Internal: Our new staffer Fani Partsafyllidou

We welcome our new staffer Fani Partsafyllidou! Fani holds a Master's Degree in Modern History and Political Science and after working with the European Association of History and Citizenship Educators she joined the FSFE communication team on the first of May. You will read more and more by her in the upcoming months, and -- except this very paragraph -- you are already reading the first newsletter brought to you by Fani.

Upcoming events

Matthias Kirschner, president of the FSFE, and Bonnie Mehring, FSFE Coordinator of Translations, will talk at OpenSUSE Con about Public Money Public Code and the progress of the FSFE after 20 years of collective action. OpenSUSE Con will happen on 18 & 19 of June, the detailed schedule is still to be set.

What we have done

  • In the Next Generation Internet Zero initiative, the FSFE has cooperated with other organisations in Europe to facilitate the use of Free Software licences by developers, by providing educational material as well as guidance. We recently published a report on how the FSFE Helps Free Software Developers Engineer a Better Internet
  • On May 22 the FSFE participated in MERGE-it, a conference organised for Italian communities that work with Open Source and Free Software. Patrick Ohnewein, Financial Officer of the FSFE and the Deputy Coordinator in Italy, gave a talk about Free Software in the Public Administration, and Francesca Indorato, FSFE employee, moderated the session and the discussion.
  • Matthias Kirschner gave an interview (DE) in Co-Vienna where he analysed the concept of Ethical Software and its relation to freedom of speech.
  • On May 6 Alexander Sander, the FSFE's policy consultant, contributed to a session about how to advocate on the EU level for Digital Sustainability
  • On May 5 Alexander Sander hosted a session on "Public Money? Public Code!" during an event of over 50 European civil society organisations who formulated several recommendations to political decision makers in the light of the upcoming federal election in Germany.
  • Alexander also hosted a webinar on May 26 to highlight the benefits of using Free Software in public administration and to explain the process of implementation.
  • Alexander Sander took part in a panel discussion on centralization to standardization with representatives of the German Government and local government associations. Alexander brought the perspective on Open Standards and Free Software to the panel
  • Our Dutch country team organised an online get-together on May 19.

Get active

Our new call for local projects is open until the 25th of July! If you are a supporter of the FSFE and you have a project you have wanted to do for a long time, apply for funding by the FSFE and make it happen. If you are a supporter but you have no project in hand, look for a local group in your vicinity or create one. And if you are not a supporter yet - time to join the FSFE now.

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 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

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20 Years FSFE: Time traveller Cory Doctorow sends his wishes from utopian 2041!

29. Mai 2021 um 01:00

20 Years FSFE: Time traveller Cory Doctorow sends his wishes from utopian 2041!

Prolific Sci-fi author Cory Doctorow envisions the world in 2041 and informs us that we were able to solve major world problems thanks to collective work and sharing of knowledge. Doctorow is thanking the FSFE for our 20 years ahead contribution of fostering freedom and disestablishing monopolies.

Cory Doctorow is a British-Canadian writer, author of several Sci-fi novels, who has been blogging for twenty years now. He was co-editor of the blog boingboing.net and now runs his own blog at Pluralistic. Doctorow is one of the trailblazers in the demands of digital rights and software freedom. He speaks in favour of a less restrictive copyright law; his books are published under Creative Commons licenses. His Sci-fi books often deal with the ownership of technological means in the future.

For over a decade, he has been vocal in supporting the work of the FSFE. This year, he is celebrating the 20 year anniversary of FSFE in his own fascinating way. He greets us and congratulates us on our 40 year anniversary, talking to us from 2041. In the video you will find below you can see how Doctorow fits the FSFE into his vision of 2041.

How does Cory Doctorow envision the future?

In Doctorow's 2041, the world has faced many large scale natural disasters, but paradoxically humanity thrives. The solution was to face these challenges collectively and leave the spirit of competition behind. Doctorow sees the value of cooperation in Free Software, contrasting it to corporation monopolies. In this context, he thanks FSFE for its priceless contribution to a better world during the years 2021-2041.

You can read the full transcript of the video below. Cory Doctorow was also our guest in the very first episode of our Software Freedom Podcast which mainly focuses on Digital Restriction Management.

...since you're here: Brand new FSFE20 sticker

In 2021 the Free Software Foundation Europe turns 20. This means two decades of empowering users to control technology. We want to give momentum to the FSFE and even more to our pan-European community, the community that has formed and always will form the shoulders that our movement relies on. To help you celebrating 20 Years of FSFE with us, we have produced a brand new logo sticker. Get it, shout it, share it!

Show others for how long we are already working for software freedom with the new tag 'FSFE since 2001'.

Transcript of Cory Doctorow's birthday wishes for the FSFE

Hello FSFE, and congratulations from the year 2041 on your forty years of fighting for the digital rights of Europeans and of all people in all places! It has been a couple of crazy decades since I spoke to you last at your twentieth.

In those two decades we have seen massive decentralization of the internet thanks in part to deep reforms to our anti-trust and monopoly law, mandates for interoperability, and open APIs. And of course the changes in our economic system that arose from the great crises that we've endured over the past two decades: floods, fires, famine, refugee crises, all of the pandemics that we've lived through.

And it was only by realizing that we had to cooperate rather than compete, that we had to expose our technical infrastructure to outside scrutiny and to outside improvement if we were going to survive crisis after crisis after crisis, that we were able to finally orient ourselves and our economy and our political project and our technological project towards weathering the storm that we had all seen coming but that no one seemed able to confront.

And after all, that turned out to be the difference, the difference between crisis and a happy ending, between dystopia and utopia. It was not whether the heat that we had sunk into the ocean would melt the poles at will, nor whether the coastal cities would drown - they have. Nor whether the wildfires would rage - they did. But whether, when they arose, when these crises came to us, we confronted them head on, or continued to deny them, continued to pretend that we could lock up technical knowledge behind proprietary walls, that we could lock up control of technological systems in the hands of four or five digital robber barons* who insisted that no government had jurisdiction over them and that they were accountable to no one except their shareholders.

Once we realized that, once we embraced the ethic of collective work for a better future for our species, then we were able to turn the tide - not by averting the crises that were already set in motion, but by addressing them when they arose.

Thank you FSFE for the work that you did on that, and thank you to all the organizations allied with us around the world, who joined to make that reality happen.

Cory Doctorow

*'Robber baron' is a historical term originating in the US which criticizes practices of powerful businessmen that had destructive consequences for the society.

About "20 Years FSFE"

In 2021 the Free Software Foundation Europe turns 20. This means two decades of empowering users to control technology .

Turning 20 is a time when we like to take a breath and to look back on the road we have come, to reflect the milestones we have passed, the successes we have achieved, the stories we have written and the moments that brought us together and that we will always joyfully remember. In 2021 we want to give momentum to the FSFE and even more to our pan-European community, the community that has formed and always will form the shoulders that our movement relies on.

20 Years FSFE is meant to be a celebration of everyone who has accompanied us in the past or still does. Thank you for contributing your piece of the puzzle that shapes the FSFE and setting the foundation for the next decades' work of the movement for software freedom.

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Call to apply for FSFE support for your local project

26. Mai 2021 um 01:00

Call to apply for FSFE support for your local project

It is no secret that the FSFE's activities are only possible with the priceless help of our contributors and supporters around Europe. In return we support local engagement financially, with our expertise, information material and networks. To help formalize this process, we run our next call for FSFE community projects.

From international campaigns to local information booths, our successful spreading of software freedom is based on many shoulders from active members within our community. This is why ever since the FSFE e.V. has been keen on supporting initiatives and activities from local FSFE groups to single supporters. If you currently look for financial funding for your FSFE activity, we are happy to support you.

To participate in the call you simply fill in your contact data and your project facts (who is doing what, when and how much it potentially will cost) and you will soon receive feedback, approval or a call back on your proposal.

Participate

Deadline for this call will be 25 July 2021.

Please spread the word within your local groups or other FSFE channels you participate, to ensure everyone knows about it.

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FSFE is migrating its IRC presence to Libera Chat

25. Mai 2021 um 01:00

FSFE is migrating its IRC presence to Libera Chat

In response to the recent mass resignation of volunteer staff from Freenode, an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network for Free Software communities, the FSFE is migrating its IRC presence to Libera Chat, a new IRC network with a similar focus founded by former Freenode staff.

The FSFE has been present on Freenode for more than fifteen years, and throughout our tenure we have experienced only dedication, care, and professionalism from the network's volunteer staff. When they feel forced to resign and launch a new network, we follow to continue experiencing the same level of care and dedication.

All existing users of the #fsfe channel on Freenode are invited to join us in #fsfe on Libera Chat. Chatting will be disabled in #fsfe on Freenode and its presence will be maintained solely to point users to #fsfe on Libera Chat. Users with FSFE cloaks on Freenode should e-mail us from their FSFE e-mail address with their Libera Chat account name to have an FSFE cloak assigned on Libera Chat.

We would like to thank Freenode for serving our needs well for more than fifteen years and we hope our tenure with Libera Chat will outlast those fifteen years.

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Dutch Digital Autonomy must be based on Free Software and Open Standards

18. Mai 2021 um 01:00

Dutch Digital Autonomy must be based on Free Software and Open Standards

"The Netherlands is losing grip on internet security, and is therefore in danger of losing control over democracy, the rule of law and the economic innovation system." This warning comes from the Cyber Security Council, a national and independent advisory body of the Dutch government and business community with members from the government, industry and academia.

In the Cyber Security Council's recent advice, they do an urgent call on the Dutch Cabinet to take quick action to prevent that Dutch society and economy becomes too dependent on proprietary technology they can not control.

CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication by TheDigitalArtist

While Cyber threats are increasing, the Netherlands is becoming increasingly dependent on a digital infrastructure that is dominated by just a small number of monopolistic companies. This could have major consequences for the national and economic security of the Netherlands. That is why digital autonomy should be high on the political agenda, according to the Council. Time is running out. If the Netherlands does not intervene, it risks losing its grip on internet security and losing its own technological knowledge, the council states. According to the advisory body, "time is short" thus "action must and can be taken now to ensure strategic autonomy”.

So much for the Cyber Security Council.

Their timing is right on the spot now a new Dutch cabinet is in the making and plans for the upcoming four years are about to be negotiated between coalition partners. But does their advice actually get to the heart of the problem? When reading the Strategic Autonomy and Cybersecurity in the Netherlands report, it is remarkable that proven best practices like Open Standards and Free Software do not play a central role in their solution and advice. If mentioned at all, it is in a side context.

Any open society is based on transparency. Therefore the digital freedom and rights of every citizen must be transparently protected. Digital autonomy is an indispensable condition for this. Autonomy, in turn, must be based on a solid legal framework that enforces Open Standards and Free Software, so that it can support citizens with public services over a public infrastructure in a transparent, secure and private way. It is crucial that national and European politicians are aware of their continuing obligation to implement all legislation that supports this practice.

Educational, health, and democratic institutions are core to our society. They are public assets and should not be part of any “economic market”, since we simply can not afford them to go bankrupt. So, public institutions will always be supported with Public Money, and any software involved inherently should be transparent by being Public Code. This principle is enshrined in the Public Money? Public Code! campaign of the FSFE, which states that software created with taxpayers’ money must be released as Free Software.

Proprietary companies that act in the “economic market” can go bankrupt. So, it is questionable if a Public Government should ever invest Public Money into proprietary market parties unconditionally. If investments are deemed necessary they should at least be done under the explicit condition that return on investment is for Public Benefit only. Again, as digital assets are concerned, Public Code is one of those conditions.

This public point of view is acutely absent in the institutional domain in which the Cyber Security Council acts and advises on. This is a domain that consist of a great number of interdependent organizations, national and super national, large and small, more and less powerful, that seem to keep each other in deadlock. Opening up to a public perspective would be a good first step for the Council to adapt their initial advice for the benefit of the commons.

The FSFE calls on the Dutch government to stand firm and get a grip on their digital security and autonomy by adhering to Open Standards and Free Software, in line with their earlier commitment ​​​​​to use Free Software by Default.

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Telekom-Reform in Österreich: Verbraucher müssen von Routerfreiheit profitieren

06. Mai 2021 um 01:00

Telekom-Reform in Österreich: Verbraucher müssen von Routerfreiheit profitieren

Österreich reformiert sein Telekommunikationsgesetz, um die neuen europäischen Richtlinien zur elektronischen Kommunikation zu implementieren. Die österreichische Regierung hat nun die einmalige Gelegenheit, Routerfreiheit auf gesetzlicher Ebene zu verankern, um Verbraucher und den Markt zu schützen.

Es sollte eine Selbstverständlichkeit sein, dass alle einen Router und ein Modem ihrer Wahl für ihren Internetanschluss frei wählen und nutzen können, so wie man es auch mit Smartphones und anderen Geräten kennt und macht. Diese sogenannte Routerfreiheit ist das Recht, dass Nutzerinnen und Nutzer ein privates Modem und einen Router anstelle der vom Internet-Provider (ISP) gelieferten Geräte wählen und nutzen können. Das Recht, Endgeräte der eigenen Wahl zu verwenden, ist in der EU durch die Netzneutralitätsverordnung garantiert. Im Rahmen einer großen Reform des Telekommunikationssektors in Europa (EECC) werden jedoch neue Regeln eingeführt, die sich negativ auf die Routerfreiheit auswirken können, weil sie die Frage betreffen, ob Router als Endgerät zählen.

Wie andere europäische Länder befindet sich auch Österreich im Prozess der Umsetzung der Telekommunikationssektor-Reform. Die österreichische Regierung hat einen Entwurf für das neue Telekommunikationsgesetz (TKG) vorgelegt, der Bestimmungen enthält, die die Möglichkeit der Verbraucher betreffen, ihr eigenes Gerät für die Verbindung mit dem Internet zu nutzen. Österreich hat mit dieser Reform die einmalige Chance, die Rechte der Verbraucher zu stärken, indem es die Routerfreiheit auf gesetzlicher Ebene garantiert und so einen offenen Markt fördert.

Routerfreiheit und Konsumentenrechte: ein perfektes Zusammenspiel

Router und Modems sind die Torwächter für die meisten Online-Aktivitäten. Verbraucher müssen in der Lage sein, ein Gerät zu wählen, das ihnen die Nutzung von Sicherheits- und Datenschutzeinstellungen ermöglicht, die ihren Anforderungen entsprechen. Die meisten ISPs bieten nur einige wenige Router-Modelle an. Dies birgt Risiken für die Freiheit und Sicherheit ihrer Verbraucher. Wenn beispielsweise größere Probleme oder Sicherheitslücken auftreten, wäre eine enorme Anzahl von Nutzern auf einmal betroffen. Eine fehlende Routerfreiheit gefährdet damit die Privatsphäre und Sicherheit der Verbraucher und ihrer persönlichen Daten.

Auch verringert Routerfreiheit die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass der Router-Markt von nur einem oder wenigen Produkten oder Herstellern dominiert wird. Nur mit Routerfreiheit ist die digitale Souveränität der Verbraucher wirklich gesichert und der Markt bleibt für alle Hersteller offen.

Einige der wichtigsten Vorteile von Routerfreiheit.

Routerfreiheit in Gefahr

FSFE und epicenter.works fordern die österreichische Regierung auf, Routerfreiheit als Standard in der Gesetzesnovelle festzuschreiben. Die IT-Sicherheit, die Privatsphäre und der Datenschutz der Verbraucher dürfen nicht zugunsten der Geschäftspraktiken der ISPs aufgegeben werden. Die Routerfreiheit muss im Reformtext verankert werden.

Wie epicenter.works im Februar 2021 aufzeigte wird gemäß dem Entwurf des neuen österreichischen Telekommunikationsgesetzes die Entscheidung über die Routerfreiheit vollständig an die nationale Regulierungsbehörde (RTR) delegiert, anstatt dieses Recht im Gesetzestext grundsätzlich festzuschreiben. Im Extremfall könnte das zu Regeln führen, die das Recht der Verbraucher, ihre eigenen Geräte zu nutzen, komplett blockieren könnten.

Länder wie Deutschland, Italien und die Niederlande haben in den letzten Jahren Gesetze zur Durchsetzung der Routerfreiheit verabschiedet. In jüngster Zeit hat Griechenland im Rahmen der EU-Telekom-Reform eine Vorentscheidung für Routerfreiheit getroffen, die Regulierungsbehörde schlägt sie als Standard vor.

Wie alle mithelfen können, Routerfreiheit zu schützen

Das Engagement von Verbrauchern ist grundlegend für den Schutz der Routerfreiheit in Österreich und der EU. Die FSFE hat ein Activity Package, für Einzelpersonen und Organisationen vorbereitet, die mit Regulatoren und Entscheidungsträgern ihres Landes in Kontakt treten und sich für Routerfreiheit einsetzen wollen. Außerdem möchten wir mehr über die Erfahrungen der Verbraucher mit Routerfreiheit in Österreich herausfinden, damit wir die Entscheidungsträger auf die Problematik aufmerksam machen können. Helfen Sie mit und nehmen Sie an der Umfrage zur Routerfreiheit teil. Es wird nur ein paar Minuten dauern!

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Router Freedom: Greece one step forward - Germany one backward

05. Mai 2021 um 01:00

Router Freedom: Greece one step forward - Germany one backward

EU member states are updating their legislation and implementing rules on Router Freedom. Greece and Germany have taken the first steps. But while Greece has focused on interests of end-users, Germany has moved in the opposite direction. The next months are crucial for Router Freedom in Europe and local participation is paramount.

Telecommunications law in the EU is passing through complex legislative reforms, involving, among others, supra-national institutions like BEREC, member states' parliaments and national regulatory agencies (NRAs). Since December 2020, EU member states have started legislative processes to implement the European Electronic Communications Code, or EECC (Directive (EU) 2018/1972), a key component of the reform, which sets new standards for Router Freedom.

Greece and Germany were the first EU countries to incorporate the EECC into national legislation. Now, the national regulatory bodies of both countries will have to decide on rules that will impact the status of Router Freedom in their jurisdictions. The FSFE has been following closely the new developments and took part in consultative processes. In addition, we have prepared an activity package to help local communities engaging with their national regulatory bodies.

Learn more about Router Freedom in Europe with the FSFE's activity summary.

Greece: moving in the right direction towards Router Freedom

In the second half of 2020, Greece incorporated the EECC into national legislation, under which the Greek regulatory body was to specify whether end-users have the right to choose and use their own routers. In March 2021, the Greek NRA (EETT) launched a public consultation and presented a preliminary conclusion (Greek) in favour of Router Freedom. According to the regulator, Router Freedom would be fully compatible with Greek legislation, and would not create market restrictions or interoperability issues. EETT has also confirmed that Router Freedom would best ensure end-users' privacy and data protection.

In April 2021, the FSFE took part in the public consultation (Greek) supporting EETT's preliminary conclusion and stressed the arguments in favour of Router Freedom. FSFE's arguments were backed up by the following six organisations in the field of digital rights, consumer protection and business representation, which also submitted corresponding positions on the consultation:

We strongly support EETT's preliminary conclusion in favour of Router Freedom.

Germany: falling short on leveraging end-users' rights

In December 2020, the German Federal Government submitted a proposal for incorporating the EECC into internal legislation, the Telecommunications Modernization Act (TKG-E). Questionably, the massive document, with more than 400 pages, was made available for public consultation of merely four days. The extremely short period prevented stakeholders to properly analysing the rules in detail and providing a more structured feedback. Nevertheless, the FSFE submitted a position (German) criticizing the draft text due to its lack of perspective of end-users' rights.

The proposed law failed to reflect the progress Router Freedom has achieved in the country since 2016. We claimed that Router Freedom had to be retained as the standard due not only to its consistency with the internal legislation but also to the very positive overall experience within the market, supporting end-users' digital sovereignty. In April 2021, the TKG was approved (German) allowing the German NRA to restrict Router Freedom under determined conditions.

Now, in order to comply with the TKG, the German NRA (BNetzA) will have to decide on end-users' ability to use their own equipment. The decision-making process must pass through public consultation. We will closely follow the process with BNetzA to safeguard the positive experience Router Freedom has achieved in the last five years. We strongly believe that the regulator has all the necessary elements available to consolidate Router Freedom in Germany.

How you can help

The next months will be crucial for Router Freedom in Europe. Other countries are starting legislative initiatives which will require an intense collaboration among people, organisations and communities. You can be part of these processes too. With our activity package, you can learn more about the various advantages of Router Freedom and the whole situation in Europe. In addition, we have set up an end-user survey to learn more about the issues end-users are facing with their ISPs in regard to Router Freedom. Your opinion will help us to map the problems existing in Europe and will facilitate our communication with regulatory authorities.

We are looking forward to learn more about your experience with Router Freedom. Take part in our survey; it will take only a few minutes!

In addition, by becoming a FSFE donor, you help make possible our long-term engagement and professional commitment in defending people's rights to control technology.

The Router Freedom initiative

Router Freedom is the right that consumers of any Internet Service Provider (ISP) have to choose and use a private modem and router instead of equipment that the ISP provides. Since 2013, the Free Software Foundation Europe has been successfully engaged with Router Freedom, promoting end-users' freedom to choose and use their own terminal equipment - first in Germany as a precedent, and now in many European countries. Join us and learn more about the several ways to get involved.

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NGI0: How the FSFE Helps Free Software Developers Engineer a Better Internet

04. Mai 2021 um 01:00

NGI0: How the FSFE Helps Free Software Developers Engineer a Better Internet

With the FSFE in its 3rd and final year of its involvement in the European Commission's NGI0 Initiative, the feedback of our work in this area has been positive. Today, we give you updates of what the team has been working on with this initiative, and share the feedback from various developers on how we've managed to help them.

What will the Internet of the future look like? The European Commission's (EC) Next Generation Internet Initiative (NGI) envisions an Internet that is accessible, diverse, and respects the fundamental value of privacy. Here at the FSFE, we believe that Free Software is key to accomplish this vision, so that all people, regardless of their background, are able to use the Internet as an effective tool to achieve their full potential.

“NGI0 not only made it possible to pursue our goals by supplying funding. I was approached a number of times by professionals whom I learned to respect for their knowledge and concrete support, ranging from security to usability, internationalisation, licensing and copyrighting and putting what we do in a perspective of inclusiveness and diversity. Their help will go a long way to improve our products and I am sure to seek out other partners to the NGI0 project before we’re done.”

Joop Ringelberg, Perspectives-core Project

To that end, since November 2018 the FSFE has been a partner organisation of Next Generation Internet Zero (NGI0), which is a coalition of thirteen non-profit organizations from all over Europe coordinated by the NLnet Foundation. Coming under the overall NGI umbrella, the purpose of NGI0 is to provide financial grants and technical support to researchers and developers who are working on Free Software solutions that contribute to the establishment of the Next Generation Internet.

FSFE Provides Assistance to Free Software Developers Through NGI0

Free Software is key for the future of the Next Generation Internet.

As part of the technical assistance rendered to NGI0 participating software projects, the FSFE focuses on providing guidance on best practices for communicating the components, licenses, and copyrights associated with software packages. We are happy to share an update on the impact and progress that the FSFE and the project as a whole have had.

“Our Free Software developer needs were understood and met with minimal frictions… With audits, this NGI0 support went further than just allowing us to spend more time working on the project, they taught us how to improve it. The FSFE REUSE team even contributed actual code with a regular merge-request, in a perfect illustration of ‘them’ teaming up with us!”

Simon Descarpentires, Meta-Press.es Project

In order to be effective at internet scale, all 242 NGI0 software projects will be Free Software by end of their involvement in the project. We have made many strides in our efforts to assist these participating software projects with their legal and licensing needs, as well as at convincing them to adopt our REUSE standards as best practices for displaying licensing and copyright information.

To achieve this goal, we have developed a workflow to help projects go through a licensing compliance cycle composed of several phases to identify, process, and resolve any legal query the project could present.

"We are always listening to developers to learn how we can best assist them. While the project certainly had some growing pains in the beginning, feedback from the developers has been incredibly valuable for us to refine our workflow over the course of our involvement in the NGI0 initiative, to make the experience for all participants as fruitful and collaborative as possible.”

Gabriel Ku Wei Bin, FSFE Legal Coordinator

REUSE: Copyright and Licensing Made Easier for Everyone

A significant part of our work in the NGI0 initiative has been to assist participating software projects with adopting our REUSE standards. Code that implements these standards is able to be easily machine read, allowing copyright and licensing information contained therein to be verified automatically without manual intervention. This allows the code to be quickly and safely adopted by individuals, public bodies, and private enterprises of any size.

"The REUSE framework simplifies the declaration and management of different licenses in your own project, and thus clearly enables everybody to reuse Free Software. The addition of REUSE header and software license information to our Neuropil project went smoothly and painlessly. The main work was carried out with a simple merge request over a diverse set of source code files, external libraries and documentation. A big thank you from the team for the FSFE’s contribution!”

Stephan Schwichtenberg, Neuropil Project

Over 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021, we have worked with over 100 NGI0 participating software projects to guide them to implement the REUSE standards on their workflow. This has included working directly with their repositories to better improve how the licensing and copyright information contained in their repositories are displayed, so that any adopters of their work in the future can more easily comply with these license and copyright obligations.

Developing Educational Materials

Together with another NGI0 partner organisation, the Institute for Legal Issues regarding Free and Open Source Software, or ifrOSS, we have included in our website a set of educational FAQs about Free Software legal and licensing issues. These FAQs tackle topics useful to any Free Software developer, such as the basics of copyright, licensing issues with Free Software, and issues with license compatibility. In addition to these quick FAQs, we have also prepared more comprehensive educational PDF documents that explain these topics more in depth.

Providing Guidance on Legal and Licensing Issues

Many participating software projects may also have many legal questions pertaining to the various licenses relevant to their work. While the FSFE assists them with the more basic questions, they can also receive guidance and advice on more complex legal issues from ifrOSS. In the last two years, we have provided guidance with inquiries on a variety of topics, including inquiries related to license implementation and compatibility issues, dependency management, managing external contributions, licensing scanning tools, trademark issues, potential licensing violations and hardware licenses.

"Regarding REUSE, we have learnt a lot. We realise that the idea behind REUSE is simple, clear, and powerful… Nowadays, Free Software projects become more and more complicated, and many components/files of a single project have different license/copyright information. REUSE helps a lot on tracking the status of this information in our project.”

Xianjun Jiao, OpenWifi Project

REUSE and the FSFE's Continuing Commitment to Helping Free Software Developers

Our work with the NGI0 initiative has been a great success for REUSE, as we've managed to help so many developers working on software that will solve a diverse range of problems have a better understanding of Free Software licenses, compliance issues, and how best to prevent these from occurring if they adopt our REUSE standards. Spreading such knowledge and awareness among developers helps to create a more robust and healthy Free Software ecosystem. Indeed, working with REUSE through the NGI0 initiative has been a learning experience for the FSFE ourselves.

"Being involved in NGI0 has been a nurturing experience. On one hand, it has been very interesting to work closely with and learn from projects that are reshaping the future of the internet. On the other, being part of the FSFE team has provided me with the necessary technical and legal skills to feel comfortable to contribute directly to projects' repositories through merge-requests; a task that was completely new for me in the beginning. All the positive feedback from these projects only encourages me to keep up the good work.”

Lina Ceballos, FSFE Legal Trainee

One of the areas where the FSFE is committed to providing guidance for developers is in the legal and licensing sphere. On this front, the FSFE has since 2009 coordinated a network of legal professionals in the field of Free Software, and provided them with a forum for cutting edge legal discussions. It is through the help of this network of experts that we have been able to develop initiatives such as REUSE, which makes it easier for developers to fulfill their Free Software legal and licensing obligations without necessarily having to become experts themselves.

While the NGI0 initiative is expected to come to a close by the end of 2021, the FSFE nevertheless will continue providing guidance to developers. In the upcoming months, we will offer a low-barrier opportunity for Free Software projects to apply for help by our REUSE professionals. As with NGI0, the FSFE will assist developers with making their projects REUSE compliant while clarifying potentially complex copyright and licensing situations. Stay tuned for more!

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Router Freedom Activity Package +++ Fernanda Weiden +++ Spring Sales

29. April 2021 um 01:00

Router Freedom Activity Package +++ Fernanda Weiden +++ Spring Sales

In our April Newsletter read about our Router Freedom Activity Package, our interview with former Vice President Fernanda Weiden, our new Software Freedom Podcast with Elisa Lindinger, our Spring Sales and as usual our other diverse community activities.

FSFE launches the Router Freedom Activity Package

Router Freedom is the right that consumers of any Internet Service Provider (ISP) have to choose and use a private modem and router instead of equipment that the ISP provides. In the context of reform of telecommunications law, since June 2020 a new set of rules guides the implementation of Router Freedom in Europe.

Check here the status of Router Freedom in your country

Although the new rules will provide more clarity in several respects concerning end-users' rights, the awareness of Router Freedom is low across Europe. Active participation of local communities in the legislative processes of laws impacting the ability of end-users to choose their network devices is crucial for leveraging the protection of Router Freedom in national jurisdictions.

Therefore, we have prepared an activity package for individuals and organisations who want to communicate with regulators and decision makers of their countries and take a stand for Router Freedom. The package consists of an activity summary, a monitoring map and a wiki page with relevant information for local engagement.

We would love to know more about your experience with Router Freedom, so we can act accordingly. Please participate in our end-user survey. It will take only a few minutes!

20 Years FSFE: Interview with Fernanda Weiden

In our third birthday publication we interview Fernanda "nanda" Weiden who was raised n Porto Alegre, Brasil, where she organised FISL, the largest Free Software conference in Latin America. Later she became a founding member and council member of the Free Software Foundation Latin America, before moving to Europe, where she joined the FSFE as a volunteer. Just a little bit later she was elected Vice President of the Free Software Foundation Europe from 2009-2011.

In these early years of her engangement with the FSFE, Fernanda helped to shape the FSFE's profile and organisation. Her favourite campaign that she was heavily contributing to was the Document Freedom Day, a campaign to highlight the importance of Open Standards and a global day to celebrate them. Fernanda is also co-founder of the "Women in Free Software Project" in Brazil and former member of "Debian Women". Until today Fernanda is part of the FSFE's General Assembly and helps the organisation with her manifold professional skills if needed.

This year the FSFE celebrates its 20th anniversary. Support our work for the next 20 years to come

SFP#10: How to support Free Software and a sustainable digital infrastructure

In our 10th episode of the Software Freedom Podcast we talk with Elisa Lindinger from Superrr Lab. Together we discuss problems faced by Free Software projects and how to tackle them. In a broader frame we discover what would be needed for a more sustainable digital infrastructure and talk about the work Elisa does for this aim.

What have we done? Inside and outside the FSFE

  • With a groundbreaking resolution, Dortmund has committed itself to the use of Free Software. With an overwhelming, cross-faction majority, the city council has paved the way for "Public Money? Public Code!" In the future, software developed or commissioned by the administration will be made available to the general public.
  • Max Mehl, FSFE programme manager, gave a talk on "Digital Sovereignty in Europe - Free Software as the Key" in which he provided an overview of the most important contexts and discussed pragmatic possibilities based on existing examples to put public digital infrastructure on a modern footing.
  • Ralf Hersel, Coordinator of the FSFE local Zurich group, gave a presentation on "Learning like the Pros" during the Open Education Day conference. Learning like the Pros informs about Digital Sovereignty, explains professional approaches and offers concrete suggestions.
  • For the International Transgender Day of Visibility, Carmen Bianca Bakker writes about "What's in a name?"
  • Lucas Lasota, FSFE Deputy Legal Coordinator, will conduct the course "Legal Aspects of Digital Sovereignty" at the Humboldt University of Berlin. The course is dedicated to several elements that compose the terms that are being discussed in public debates, but from the legal perspective.

"Show your support" (aka "Get active")

Although Spring seems a little bit late this year in Northern Europe, we have started the FSFE Spring Sales in which we offer all our coloured T-shirts, magnets, pins, gym sacks and children's shirts at a reduced price for a short period. Be quick, because the offer is only valid while stock lasts. Moreover, sale products that are sold out will no longer be reordered as we will refresh our inventory.

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 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, Erik Albers

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Bundestagswahl 2021: Forderungen für eine digital souveräne Gesellschaft

27. April 2021 um 01:00

Bundestagswahl 2021: Forderungen für eine digital souveräne Gesellschaft

Organisationen der digitalen Zivilgesellschaft stellen für die Bundestagswahl 2021 vier Forderungen für eine digital souveräne Gesellschaft an die Politik. Darunter die Free Software Foundation Europe, die sich dafür einsetzt, dass mit öffentlichen Geldern für öffentliche Verwaltungen entwickelte Software unter einer Freie-Software Lizenz veröffentlicht wird.

Am 1. April 2020 forderten zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen, die sich für eine unabhängige digitale Infrastruktur und freien Zugang zu Wissen einsetzen die Politik auf: Aus der Krise lernen - Digitale Zivilgesellschaft stärken! In einem offenen Brief eröffneten die unterzeichnenden Organisationen zugleich konkrete Handlungsempfehlungen. Geschehen ist seitdem jedoch viel zu wenig. Das vergangene Jahr hat deutlich gemacht, dass Politik und öffentliche Verwaltung mit ihrer eigenen digitalen Transformation überfordert sind und in der Digitalpolitik Schwerpunkte setzen, die nicht den Bedürfnissen der Gesellschaft entsprechen. Von einer digital souveränen Gesellschaft sind wir weit entfernt.

Public Money? Public Code!

Deshalb hat sich unter digitalezivilgesellschaft.org erneut ein breites Spektrum an Organisationen, darunter auch die Free Software Foundation Europe, zusammengefunden, um die Politik mit ihrer Expertise zu unterstützen. Mit vier Forderungen zeigt das Netzwerk, wie Digitalisierung für eine digital souveräne Gesellschaft gelingen kann – und fordert die Parteien im Hinblick auf die Bundestagswahl auf, Digitalisierung für das Gemeinwohl zur zentralen Prämisse zu machen.

Vier Forderungen an die Bundesregierung

  1. Digitale Souveränität: Die Politik muss die digitale Souveränität der Gesellschaft als oberste Maxime in der Digitalpolitik verankern. Statt eines Digitalministeriums brauchen wir für die kommende Legislaturperiode eine Mission, welche digitale Souveränität zum Leitprinzip erhebt und mit Vertretern aus Zivilgesellschaft, Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft zusammen verfasst und evaluiert wird.
  2. Beteiligung und Transparenz: Die Zivilgesellschaft muss endlich die gleichen Möglichkeiten wie Wirtschaft und Wissenschaft erhalten, um ihre Expertise einzubringen. Dies wird durch eine Zivilgesellschaftsquote in politischen Beratungsgremien, Kommunikation und Transparenz zu Abläufen politischer Entscheidungsprozesse, gesetzlich festgelegte Fristen für Konsultationen sowie maschinenlesbare Dokumentation erreicht.
  3. Öffentliches Geld, öffentliches Gut: Öffentlich geförderte Lösungen müssen für alle unter einer freien Lizenz zugänglich sein, damit kein Wissen verloren oder Probleme doppelt gelöst werden. Das betrifft Software: Wir wollen rechtliche Grundlagen, die es erfordern, dass mit öffentlichen Geldern für öffentliche Verwaltungen entwickelte Software unter einer Freien Software Lizenz (auch als Open Source beziechnet) veröffentlicht wird. Wenn es sich um öffentliche Gelder handelt, sollte auch der Code öffentlich sein! (Public Money? Public Code!). Aber auch Daten der öffentlichen Verwaltung (Open Data) sowie freies Wissen und offene Bildungsmaterialien (Open Educational Resources).
  4. Nachhaltige Digitalisierung: Die Digitalisierung kann nur gelingen, wenn der Aufbau von digitaler Infrastruktur wirtschaftlich und sozial ausgestaltet wird. Dazu müssen Diversität in der Digitalisierung sowie der Aufbau und die Wartung von sicherer, dezentraler digitaler Infrastruktur für die Gesellschaft langfristig gefördert werden.

Launch-Event am 5. Mai 2021

Am Launch-Event diskutieren Julia Reda (ehem. Mitglied des EU-Parlaments), Henning Tillmann (Softwareentwickler und Co-Vorstand von D64) und Julia Kloiber (Co-Gründerin Superrr Lab) am 5. Mai 2021 von 18:00 Uhr bis 19:30 Uhr diese vier Forderungen. Moderiert wird die Runde von Katja Jäger (betterplace lab). Anschließend gibt es für alle Teilnehmenden die Möglichkeit, sich in vier Themenräumen zu Lösungen, Maßnahmen und Handlungsaufforderungen auszutauschen. Alexander Sander von der FSFE wird den Themenraum zu "Public Money? Public Code!" moderieren. Weitere Informationen und Anmeldung zum Launch-Event gibt es in Kürze auf digitalezivilgesellschaft.org.

Unterzeichnende Organisationen von digitalezivilgesellschaft.org: Free Software Foundation Europe, Superrr Lab, gut.org, betterplace lab, Social Entrepreneurship Netzwerk Deutschland e.V. (SEND), Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V., Liquid Democracy e.V., iRights.Lab, Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung e.V. (FIfF), Chaos Computer Club, Bundesverband Smart City e.V., mediale pfade, Stiftung Erneuerbare Freiheit, Center for the Cultivation of Technology, neuland21 e.V., Arbeitskreis Digitalisierung der BUNDjugend, Verstehbahnhof, Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement, Wikimedia Deutschland e. V., Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, D64, epicenter.works e.V., Digitale Gesellschaft e.V., Ashoka Deutschland e. V., Progressives Zentrum e. V.

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20 Jahre FSFE: Interview mit Fernanda Weiden

20. April 2021 um 01:00

20 Jahre FSFE: Interview mit Fernanda Weiden

Für unsere dritte Geburtstagspublikation sprechen wir mit Fernanda Weiden - Mitbegründerin der FSF Latin America und ehemalige Vizepräsidentin der FSFE - über die Anfänge Freier Software in Lateinamerika und den heutigen Einsatz Freier Software in großen Unternehmen, sowie über die Unterstützung von Vielfalt in verschiedenen Gemeinschaften.

Fernanda "nanda" Weiden hat eine lange Geschichte des persönlichen Engagements für Freie Software und die FSFE. Eigentlich eine viel zu lange, um in diese Einführung zu passen, aber wir versuchen zumindest, einige ihrer Beiträge zu beleuchten: Aufgewachsen in Porto Alegre, Brasilien, organisierte Fernanda die FISL, die größte Freie-Software-Konferenz in Lateinamerika. Später wurde sie Gründungs- und Ratsmitglied der Free Software Foundation Latin America, bevor sie nach Europa zog, wo sie als Ehrenamtliche zur FSFE kam. Wenig später wurde sie von 2009-2011 zur Vizepräsidentin der Free Software Foundation Europe gewählt.

In den frühen Jahren ihres Engagements für die FSFE half Fernanda, das Profil und die Organisation der FSFE zu formen. Ihre Lieblingskampagne, an der sie maßgeblich beteiligt war, war der Document Freedom Day - eine Kampagne, um die Wichtigkeit von Offenen Standards hervorzuheben. Diese wurden am "Document Freedom Day" gefeiert. Fernanda ist auch Mitbegründerin des "Frauen in Freier Software Projekts" ("Women in Free Software Project") in Brasilien und ehemaliges Mitglied von "Debian Women". Bis heute ist Fernanda Teil der Mitgliederversammlung der FSFE und hilft der Organisation bei Bedarf mit ihren vielfältigen Fähigkeiten.

Anlässlich von "20 Jahren FSFE" interviewten wir Fernanda über ihre Zeit bei den FSF*s, über Aktivitäten bei Veranstaltungen zu Freier Software und deren Einsatz in großen Unternehmen.

Interview mit Fernanda Weiden

FSFE: Du bist in Brasilien aufgewachsen und hast dort die Free Software Foundation Latin America mitbegründet. Kannst du uns ein wenig über deinen Hintergrund erzählen, wie kamst du anfangs zu Freier Software und wie kam es dazu, dass du die FSFLA mitbegründet hast?

Fernanda Weiden: Ich bin in Porto Alegre, der südlichsten Großstadt Brasiliens, aufgewachsen. In der Region leben etwa eine Million Menschen und die Gegend ist stark von der europäischen Einwanderung geprägt. Ich hatte nie wirklich geplant Computeringenieurin zu werden. Als ich das erste Mal an die Universität kam, wollte ich noch Mathematiklehrerin werden. Nach etwa einem Jahr war klar, dass das nichts für mich ist.

Ich fing an mich immer mehr für Computer zu interessieren und eine Menge Leute, die ich kannte, nutzten bereits GNU/Linux. Ich wurde sehr schnell neugierig darauf und lernte, GNU/Linux ohne eine graphische Oberfläche zu benutzen. Das half mir dabei zu verstehen, wie Computer ohne die Magie einer Benutzeroberfläche funktionieren. Ich liebte es.

Nach einer Weile fing ich an mit unterschiedlichen Systemen zu arbeiten. Als RedHat sein Zertifizierungsprogramm namens RedHat Certified Engineer startete, war ich in der ersten Gruppe von Leuten aus Lateinamerika, die den Test machten. Es gab 10 von uns und 6 bestanden den Test. Ich war eine von ihnen und offensichtlich die einzige Frau, was ein Schlaglicht auf meine Arbeit warf und auch ein Schlaglicht auf die Freie-Software-Gemeinschaft für mich. Danach habe ich schnell begonnen, mich zu engagieren.

Die Free Software Foundation Latin America war ein naheliegender Schritt, um die Gemeinschaft zu stärken und auch Entscheidungsträger im öffentlichen Sektor zu unterstützen.

Diese Jahre in Lateinamerika waren politisch betrachtet sehr interessant und viele der Regierungen investierten in Freie Software als eine mögliche Alternative. Es ging dabei darum die Wirtschaft und auch die Unabhängigkeit von Software-Lieferanten - meist aus Europa oder Nordamerika - zu fördern. Die Free Software Foundation Latin America war ein naheliegender Schritt, um die Gemeinschaft zu stärken und auch Entscheidungsträger im öffentlichen Sektor zu unterstützen, damit diese die Themen rund um Freie Software besser zu verstehen lernen. Leider glaube ich nicht, dass die FSFLA ihr damaliges Potenzial ausschöpfen konnte, aber es war trotzdem eine großartige Erfahrung.

Ich war bereits, aufgrund meiner Arbeit im Programmkomitee des Internationalen Forums für Freie Software in Porto Alegre sehr gut mit Leuten aus ganz Lateinamerika und der ganzen Welt vernetzt. Also denke ich, dass ich eine natürliche Wahl war. Eine Frau zu sein hat mir dabei bestimmt auch geholfen. Im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Frauen, die sich in der Gemeinschaft engagieren, war ich Ingenieurin und verstand nicht nur die politische Seite der Themen, sondern auch die technische.

Fernanda G. Weiden auf der Latinoware 2008, Gnome Forum. Foz do Iguaçu, Brasilien. (Bild CC-BY 2.0 Germán Póo-Caamaño)

Damals in Brasilien hast du viel Zeit damit verbracht, ehrenamtlich bei der Organisation der FISL, der größten Konferenz für Freie Software in Lateinamerika, zu helfen. Kannst du uns erzählen, wie die Wahrnehmung von Freier Software zu dieser Zeit in Brasilien war? Warum ist ehrenamtliche Arbeit wichtig und warum ist es wichtig, solche Veranstaltungen mit dem Bezug zu Freier Software zu haben?

Ich würde sagen, Freie Software war in Brasilien auf ihrem Höhepunkt. Die Regierung war interessiert und bereit sich zu bewegen und mit der Gemeinschaft zu kooperieren, um von uns als Gemscheinschaft zu lernen. Dazu kam, dass die Regierung unsere Veranstaltungen auch finanziell unterstütze und uns half, eine solide Basis für die Gemeinschaft aufzubauen. Veranstaltungen sind super wichtig, weil sie dabei helfen, das Bewusstsein zu verbreiten und eine Dynamik entstehen lassen. So können wichtige Schritte auf politischer Ebene unternommen werden. Ich denke auch, dass Veranstaltungen Gelegenheiten bieten, denjenigen das Mikrofon zu geben, die etwas Wichtiges zu sagen haben. Damals war es für uns wichtig, dass wir die Welt wissen lassen, dass es einen anderen Weg für die digitale Transformation gibt. Das wir eine Technologie-Industrie aufbauen, die nicht von den Technologien großer Unternehmen abhängig ist. Freie Software ist ermächtigend für eine Nation der Dritten Welt, weil sie Länder und Industrien vom Rücksitz in den Fahrersitz für ihre eigene Zukunft bringen kann.

Später in deinem Leben zogst du von Brasilien nach Europa, wo du als Ehrenamtliche zur Free Software Foundation Europe kamst und später für zwei Jahre unsere Vizepräsidentin wurdest. Wie war deine Erfahrung als Vizepräsidentin und was hält dich nach nunmehr über 15 Jahren in der FSFE?

Ich zog Ende 2005 nach Europa, nachdem ich ein Jobangebot von Google in Zürich erhalten hatte. Es war die transformativste Erfahrung in meinem Leben. Ich habe verschiedene Kulturen gesehen und gelebt und dazu noch fast 13 Jahre lang in der Big-Tech-Branche gearbeitet. All das hat mich verändert und mir geholfen, mich auf eine Art und Weise weiterzuentwickeln, die ich vorher nicht für möglich gehalten hätte.

Ich bin für immer dankbar für das, was Freie Software in meinem Leben möglich gemacht hat. Es ist mir sehr wichtig, der Gemeinschaft weiterhin etwas zurückzugeben.

Die FSFE war für mich eine Möglichkeit, mit meinen Wurzeln verbunden zu bleiben. Ich hatte Freunde, die ebenfalls engagiert waren, und ich wollte der Gemeinschaft, die mir so viel gegeben hat, weiterhin etwas zurückgeben. Nicht nur an technischem und politischem Wissen, sondern auch an allem anderen was dazugehört. Ich bin für immer dankbar für das, was Freie Software in meinem Leben ermöglicht hat. Es ist mir sehr wichtig, der Gemeinschaft weiterhin etwas zurückzugeben. Auch wenn es manchmal schwer erscheint, weil sich das Leben so sehr verändert hat, die Zeit knapper geworden ist und sich die Prioritäten aus persönlicher Sicht verschoben haben.

Der Document Freedom Day war eine Kampagne der FSFE, bei der es darum ging, das Bewusstsein für die Bedeutung von Offenen Standards zu schärfen. Du warst stark an der Entstehung der Kampagne beteiligt, hast bei der Einrichtung der Website und den allgemeinen Konzepten geholfen. Was hat dir am DFD gefallen und was war deine liebste DFD-Aktivität?

Offene Standards sind für Dokumente lebenswichtig. Wenn man die Informationen in einem Standard aufzeichnet, der nicht offen für alle implementiert werden kann, ist das für mich dasselbe, als ob man die aufgezeichneten Informationen nicht besitzen würde, denn man ist für immer Gefangener dieses Anbieters. Wenn sie das Geschäft aufgeben, tun das auch deine Aufzeichnungen. Ich liebe die Kampagne, weil ich denke, dass sie ein Weg ist, die Wichtigkeit der digitalen Freiheit denjenigen nahezubringen, die vielleicht nicht über Freie Software Bescheid wissen oder sich nicht dafür interessieren. Es ist ein Weg, eine Frage in die Köpfe der Menschen zu pflanzen.

Meine Lieblingsaktivität waren definitiv die Bilder. Wir haben die Leute gebeten, uns Bilder von ihren Veranstaltungen und Feiern zum DFD aus der ganzen Welt zu schicken, und es war großartig zu sehen, wie die Gemeinschaft auf der ganzen Welt zusammenkam, um die Bedeutung von Offenen Standards zu diskutieren.

Ein Bild des FSFE-Teams bei der Übergabe des DFD-Awards 2010 an Radio Deutschlandfunk mit dem Thema "rOGG on"

Du hast für mehrere Jahre in einem großen internationalen Technologieunternehmen gearbeitet. Wie wird die Rolle und Bedeutung von Freier Software und Offenen Standards in großen Unternehmen wahrgenommen und hat sie sich über die Jahre verändert?

Als ich Aktivistin für Freie Software wurde, musste man sich noch über die Plattform streiten, die man für die Erstellung von Software verwendet. Heute ist Freie Software keine Frage mehr. Sie ist an vielen Orten die Norm. Große Firmen spielen eine wichtige Rolle, weil sie Ingenieure anstellen und bezahlen, um weiterhin Software auf dem neuesten Stand der Technik zu produzieren, die dann über Freie-Software-Lizenzen verfügbar ist. Natürlich fließen nicht alle Ingenieurstunden in diese Arbeit, aber es ist definitiv etwas, das beide großen Tech-Firmen, für die ich gearbeitet habe, zu schätzen wussten und auf unterschiedliche Weise dazu beitrugen.

Das Wichtigste ist meiner Meinung nach, dass man es zur Priorität macht, ein integratives Umfeld zu schaffen. [...] Es ist ein positiver Kreislauf: Sobald man anfängt, positive Schritte zu unternehmen, werden immer mehr unterschiedliche Talente kommen, weil sie sich sicher fühlen.

Du bist Mitbegründerin des "Women in Free Software Project" in Brasilien, warst Mitglied von "Debian Women" und hast es geschafft, in deiner technischen Abteilung den höchsten Frauenanteil in einem großen internationalen Unternehmen zu haben. Aus deiner praktischen Erfahrung heraus, was sind deiner Meinung nach die wichtigsten Punkte für Freie-Software-Organisationen, um eine inklusive Umgebung für Frauen und andere traditionell unterrepräsentierte Gruppen in Freier Software zu schaffen?

Das Wichtigste ist meiner Meinung nach, dass wir dem Aufbau eines integrativen Umfelds Priorität einräumen. Das darf kein zweiter Gedanke sein. Wenn man nicht zuallererst darüber nachdenkt, wie ich sicherstellen kann, dass diese Umgebung für alle freundlich ist, verpasst man die Chance, inklusiv zu sein. Viele Unternehmen und Organisationen machen den Fehler zu glauben, dass die eine oder andere Aktivität sie inklusiver für Minderheiten machen würde. Es geht nicht um die eine oder andere Aktivität. Es geht darum, wie du dich jeden Moment deines Tages verhältst und wie viel Mühe du dir gibst, um sicherzustellen, dass du den Stillen zuhörst, offen für andere Meinungen bist und dich durchgehend darum bemühst, deine Pipeline mit vielfältigen Talenten zu füllen, wenn du neue Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter einstellen willst. Es ist ein positiver Kreislauf: Sobald du anfängst, positive Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, werden immer mehr vielfältige Talente kommen, weil sie sich sicher fühlen.

Was ist dein persönliches Highlight mit der FSFE oder eine wichtige Sache, die du durch deine Arbeit bei der FSFE gelernt hast?

Seit den Anfängen der Arbeit bei der FSFE habe ich immer die pragmatische und ausgewogene Art und Weise geschätzt, in der sich mit der Gemeinschaft auseinandergesetzt wird. Die FSFE hat sich immer dazu verpflichtet, einen Dialog zu führen, egal wie unterschiedlich die Positionen der anderen Seite in dem Gespräch waren. Ich denke, dass dies auch im geschäftlichen Umfeld sehr wichtig ist: Man muss jedem zuhören, wenn man effektiv sein will. Die FSFE tut dies auf eine Art und Weise, die freundlich und akzeptierend ist, aber die Kernwerte, für die wir stehen, nicht gefährdet.

Document Freedom Day Feier in Singapur 2018. (Bild CC-BY 4.0 Fedora Community Blog)

Und was ist eine Geschichte, die dich immer noch zum Lachen oder Lächeln bringt, wenn du dich an sie erinnerst?

Leider war ich an dem Tag nicht anwesend, aber ich habe trotzdem viel darüber gelacht, und ich war dabei, als der Song veröffentlicht wurde, und das war sehr lustig. Auf jeden Fall das Schnitzelmonster. Ich werde das Monster allerdings seine eigene Geschichte erzählen lassen.

FSFE: Als letzte Frage, was wünschst du der FSFE für die nächsten 20 Jahre?

Ich wünsche der FSFE, dass sie weiterhin eine Organisation ist, die sich mit den Herausforderungen unserer Zeit weiterentwickelt. Wenn in der Vergangenheit proprietäre Software ein großes Thema war, haben wir jetzt Datenschutzprobleme in der Cloud als großes Thema. Wir haben Software, die in unseren Waschmaschinen und Öfen läuft. Ich wünsche mir auch, dass die FSFE weiterhin die freundliche Umgebung ist, die sie für mich immer war. Wir sehen uns nicht sehr oft persönlich, aber wenn wir es tun, abgesehen von den zusätzlichen grauen Haaren und Falten, fühlt es sich an, als wären wir uns schon immer nahe gewesen. Es ist eine große und weit verzweigte Familie.

FSFE: Herzlichen Dank!

Über "20 Jahre FSFE"

Im Jahr 2021 wird die Free Software Foundation Europe 20 Jahre alt. Das bedeutet zwei Jahrzehnte Ermächtigung der Nutzer zur Kontrolle der Technologie.

20 Jahre alt zu werden ist eine Zeit, in der wir durchatmen und auf den Weg zurückblicken wollen, den wir gekommen sind, um die Meilensteine zu reflektieren, die wir passiert haben, die Erfolge, die wir erreicht haben, die Geschichten, die wir geschrieben haben und die Momente, die uns zusammengebracht haben und an die wir uns immer mit Freude erinnern werden. Im Jahr 2021 wollen wir der FSFE und noch mehr unserer paneuropäischen Gemeinschaft Schwung verleihen, der Gemeinschaft, die die Schultern gebildet hat und immer bilden wird, auf die sich unsere Bewegung stützt.

20 Jahre FSFE soll eine Feier für alle sein, die uns in der Vergangenheit begleitet haben oder es noch tun. Danke, dass Sie Ihr Stück des Puzzles beitragen, das die FSFE formt und den Grundstein für die Arbeit der nächsten Jahrzehnte unserer Bewegung für Softwarefreiheit legt.

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SFP#10: How to support Free Software and a sustainable digital infrastructure

07. April 2021 um 01:00

SFP#10: How to support Free Software and a sustainable digital infrastructure

In our 10th episode of the Software Freedom Podcast we talk with Elisa Lindinger from Superrr Lab. Together we discuss problems faced by Free Software projects and how to tackle them. In a broader frame we discover what would be needed for a more sustainable digital infrastructure and talk about the work Elisa does for this aim.

For this episode Matthias Kirschner and Bonnie Mehring talk with Elisa Lindinger about the survey Roadwork ahead, which evaluates the needs of those working for software freedom and a digital infrastructure for the public. What concrete actions are needed to create sustainable Free Software communities and projects? How could developers spend more time on coding and not so much time on organising events and finances, in short how could community management be better organised? And how could those who do volunteer work for open infrastructure and Free Software receive the support they need? Those are just some of the questions discussed in the podcast. All of those problems are brought into a broader sense of this topic, when we talk about how our digital civil society can be more sustainable. We discuss the four claims Elisa and her team developed and advocate for:

  1. Digital civil society needs to be part of political discussions about digital policy,
  2. New methods are needed of support and funding,
  3. "Public Money? Public Code!" should be a guiding principle for public procurements and Open Data, Open Access and Open Source should be the base for public contracts,
  4. A commitment for long-time support of widely-used software, libraries and protocols is needed to ensure their maintenance.

Together, we discuss what a sustainable digital civil society can look like and what is still needed for this aim to be reached. This episode provides knowledge and insights for all of you who want to support Free Software and create a long-lasting digital society.

Read more:

If you liked this episode and want to support our continuous work for software freedom, please help us with a donation.

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FSFE Frühjahrsverkauf: jetzt reduzierte Freie-Software-Fanartikel bestellen

06. April 2021 um 01:00

FSFE Frühjahrsverkauf: jetzt reduzierte Freie-Software-Fanartikel bestellen

Endlich! Der Frühling ist da, das warme Wetter kommt, und es gibt viele Rabatte im FSFE-Shop! Deshalb bieten wir alle unsere bunten T-Shirts, Magnete, Pins, Turnbeutel und Kindershirts für einen kurzen Zeitraum zu einem reduzierten Preis an.

Eine Auswahl unserer reduzierten Fanartikel

Wenn Du schon immer ein T-Shirt mit dem Slogan „There is no cloud, just other people's computers“ haben wolltest, findest Du es in rot oder blau; wenn Du das T-Shirt magst, das Deine Liebe zu Freier Software in vielen Sprachen zeigt, oder einen neuen PMPC-Magneten für Deinen Kühlschrank, könnte das Deine letzte Chance sein. Das Angebot ist nur gültig, solange der Vorrat reicht. Ausverkaufte Produkte können nicht mehr nachbestellt werden, da wir unseren Bestand auffrischen.

Mit jedem Kauf unterstützt Du außerdem die Arbeit der FSFE und erhältst eine kleine Draufgabe. Übrigens: das „I am a fork“ Kinder-Shirt ist auch ein wunderbares Geschenk, wir haben es selbst schon mehrfach getestet.

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Dortmund setzt auf Freie Software - Weg frei für Public Money? Public Code!

31. März 2021 um 01:00

Dortmund setzt auf Freie Software - Weg frei für Public Money? Public Code!

Mit einem wegweisenden Beschluss hat sich Dortmund dem Einsatz von Freier Software verschrieben. Der Rat der Stadt hat mit einer überwältigenden, fraktionsübergreifenden Mehrheit den Weg für „Public Money? Public Code!“ frei gemacht. Künftig soll von der Verwaltung entwickelte oder beauftragte Software der Allgemeinheit zur Verfügung gestellt werden.

Bereits im Februar hat der Rat der Stadt einen zuvor von den Fraktionen von SPD, Bündnis90/Die Grünen, CDU, Die Linke+ sowie der Fraktion FDP/Bürgerliste eingereichten Antrag angenommen. Künftig soll, wo immer möglich, Freie Software eingesetzt und zudem von der Verwaltung entwickelte oder zur Entwicklung beauftragte Software der Allgemeinheit zur Verfügung gestellt werden. Damit folgt Dortmund dem Prinzip „Public Money? Public Code!“ - von allen bezahlter Code sollte für alle verfügbar sein! Das heute veröffentlichte Protokoll der Sitzung zeigt, mit welcher Geschlossenheit der Rat hinter dem Prinzip steht: Der Antrag wurde einstimmig angenommen. (Zwar enthielt sich die Fraktion FDP/Bürgerliste bei der Abstimmung auf Grund eines anderen Änderungsantrags zu einem anderen Punkt, brachte den Antrag aber mit ein und steht noch immer dahinter) Möglich wurde das Ergebnis durch den konsequenten Einsatz der Initiative Do-FOSS, die auch die „Public Money? Public Code“- Kampagne der FSFE unterstützt.

Dortmund Matthias Kirschner, Präsident der Free Software Foundation Europe erklärt dazu: „Wir freuen uns, dass die Initiative Do-FOSS durch ihren unermüdlichen Einsatz in den vergangenen Jahren die Stadt Dortmund vom Prinzip „Public Money? Public Code“ überzeugen konnte. Freie Software gibt allen das Recht, Programme für jeden Zweck zu verwenden, zu verstehen, zu verbreiten und zu verbessern. Diese Freiheiten kommen auch staatlichen Akteuren zugute. Öffentliche Verwaltungen, die diesem Prinzip folgen, können von zahlreichen Vorteilen profitieren: Zusammenarbeit mit anderen staatlichen Stellen, Unabhängigkeit von einzelnen Anbietern, mögliche Steuerersparnisse, Innovationsförderung und eine solidere Grundlage für IT-Sicherheit. Durch den Beschluss des Rates gibt es nun die politische Rückendeckung, um die Abhängigkeiten von proprietären Anbietern Stück für Stück aufzulösen. Wir werden die Umsetzung begleiten und rufen gleichzeitig andere Verwaltungen in Deutschland und Europa auf, dem Vorbild Dortmunds zu folgen.“

Die "Public Money? Public Code!"-Initiative zielt darauf ab, Freie Software als Standard für öffentlich finanzierte Software zu etablieren. Die "Public Money? Public Code!"-Initiative der Free Software Foundation Europe wird von über 200 Organisationen und Verwaltungen unterstützt. Mehr dazu erfahren Sie hier: publiccode.eu

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FSFE launches the Router Freedom Activity Package

30. März 2021 um 01:00

FSFE launches the Router Freedom Activity Package

In the context of reform of telecommunication laws, EU member states are currently implementing legislation with direct impact on Router Freedom. The FSFE has launched an activity package for organisations and individuals to raise awareness and empower them to advocate for users' device sovereignty in their countries.

Router Freedom is the right that consumers of any Internet Service Provider (ISP) have to choose and use a private modem and router instead of equipment that the ISP provides. Since 2013, the Free Software Foundation Europe has been successfully engaged with Router Freedom, promoting end-users' freedom to choose and use their own terminal equipment - first in Germany as a precedent, and now in many European countries.

In the context of reform of telecommunications law, a new set of rules has been adopted by the European Union which will directly impact Router Freedom in the 27 EU member states. The FSFE has been following closely the developments and actively taken part in consultation initiatives on the European level and also in legislative processes in countries which are ahead in adopting such rules, like Austria, Germany and Greece.

Community Engagement

Router Freedom depends on community engagement

Although the new rules will provide more clarity in several respects concerning end-users' rights, the awareness of Router Freedom is low across Europe. Active participation of local communities in the legislative processes of laws impacting the ability of end-users to choose their network devices is crucial for leveraging the protection of Router Freedom in national jurisdictions.

Therefore, the FSFE has prepared an activity package for individuals and organisations who want to communicate with regulators and decision makers of their countries and take a stand for Router Freedom. The package consists of an activity summary, a monitoring map, an end-user experience survey and a wiki page with relevant information for local engagement.

Activity Summary

The Protecting Router Freedom in Europe - Activity Summary (.pdf) aims to provide everyone the necessary information to raise awareness of the urgency of protecting Router Freedom. It contains the positive arguments in favour of Router Freedom based on the FSFE's years of successful experience. The summary also presents an overview of the current state of affairs in Europe and how people can participate and collaborate in their countries to improve their situation with Router Freedom.

Get your Activity Summary right now!

Monitoring Map

The FSFE has been monitoring the rules regarding Router Freedom in Europe. The map below tracks how EU member states are implementing the identification of the Network Termination Point (NTP), a technical definition which determines the limits of ISPs' and end-users' networks. You can obtain information by clicking on each country icon. The tracker will be updated regularly.

Check here the status of Router Freedom in your country

Router Freedom Survey

Regulators have been extremely conservative in reporting the problems and issues consumers are facing with ISPs' abusive commercial practices against consumers' rights. We want to better understand end-users' experience in Europe with our Router Freedom survey. Every opinion counts - it will take only a few minutes.

Wiki Page

The Router Freedom wiki page contains the necessary information for people to get active in communicating with national regulators, consumer organisations and political representatives. It is also an excellent point for first contact with the concept of Router Freedom.

The Future of Router Freedom in Europe

Long-term engagement is only enabled by your help. You can make a difference by joining us spreading the word, sharing your experience, contacting the authorities of your country and becoming a sustaining supporter of the FSFE.

"Like most charity organisations, our resources are limited. While we achieved Router Freedom in Germany as a precedent, and currently actively engage in the legislative processes in Greece and Austria, we cannot do so in all 27 EU member states. That is why we need your help and your experience with national legislation and the local media landscape. Such an ambitious goal - establishing Router Freedom all over Europe - requires collaboration of many people!", says Lucas Lasota, FSFE Project Manager.

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Luca vs Lenovo +++ Reinhard and the FSFE +++ IloveFS report

25. März 2021 um 00:00

Luca vs Lenovo +++ Reinhard and the FSFE +++ IloveFS report

In our March Newsletter read about our supporter Luca Bonissi who forced Lenovo to pay a 20.000 Euros refund for a pre-installed Windows, about our supporter Reinhard Müller who has volunteered for the FSFE for two decades, our "I Love Free Software" report and as usual about our other diverse community activities.

Luca Bonissi vs Lenovo: 20.000 Euros refund for a pre-installed Windows

We all know how frustrating it is to buy a brand new computer and realise that it comes with a pre-installed proprietary operating system. After an initial annoyance, however, even most Free Software stalwarts do not further complain, wipe the system and proceed with a fresh install of a free operating system of their choice. Not so Luca Bonissi, an Italian developer and long-term FSFE supporter. After buying a new Lenovo Ideapad, he contacted Lenovo to file a request for a license refund and a return of the pre-installed Microsoft Windows. However, Lenovo refused to refund Luca for the Windows license - worth 42 Euro - and what followed was a truly legal and bureaucratic quest which consumed many months and several court proceedings. Finally, in December 2020, the Court of Monza rejected all Lenovo's arguments, confirming that the reimbursement of the pre-installed software was due.

Luca Bonissi in his #IloveFS shirt.

In its sentence, the Court of Monza also pointed out that the manufacturer itself had expressly assumed an obligation to pay a refund in the Windows licence. In its historic decision, the court further imposed upon Lenovo punitive damages amounting to 20.000 euros for abuse of the appeal procedures. Lenovo forced its customer to take part in a disproportionate and unnecessary legal process. The court also noted that this case is an example of the arrogance and prevarication of a giant company against a modest consumer. In the end, the court ruled that the sum was to be paid to Luca, by way of compensating for the damage caused by aggravated procedural liability.

In a deeply selfless act, Luca Bonissi donated 15.000 Euros from the recovered damages to the FSFE, encouraging people to stand their ground for their rights. We are extremely grateful for this donation by Luca and also that he shared the documentation and procedures in the updated wiki page for Italy.

"The Monza decision demonstrated that is possible to reverse the unacceptable behaviour of big techs. What was taken away from the Free Software community has now been returned to it. I encourage everyone to fight back for their legitimate rights!" says Luca Bonissi and we could not agree more.

20 Years FSFE: Interview with Reinhard Müller

Now from Luca Bonissi in Italy to Reinhard Müller in Austria: Reinhard is another volunteer whose dedication to Free Software and the FSFE are legendary. Throughout the last two decades, Reinhard has helped to shape the FSFE in its self-understanding and in its overall organisation as well as in our daily operations. Indeed, Reinhard has basically taken over any position from local volunteer to country team member, from booth volunteer to financial officer and from a supporter to the General Assembly. Most people are surprised when they hear that he is a volunteer and not a paid staffer of the FSFE.

Reinhard Müller while socialising during the General Assembly.

Listing all of his contributions in this newsletter basically seems impossible, but we conducted an interview with Reinhard in which we try to cover at least some of the most essential parts of his life with and within the FSFE. Read about what keeps him motivated, his energy sources, his favorite FSFE activities and his wishes for the FSFE for the next 20 years.

I Love Free Software Day

From Reinhard Müller to the I Love Free Software Day, because this is his favorite campaign and it is the favorite campaign for many people around the globe. This year we already celebrated the 11th edition of the "I Love Free Software Day" and we just published our activity report. In numbers we counted 411 tweets on Twitter and 210 toots and countless retweets and retoots in the Fediverse using the hashtag #ilovefs. People from all over the world joined the "I Love Free Software Day" via social media and tweeted and tooted from at least 328 different places.

This year we had two novelties: Together with FSFE's volunteer Florian Snow we created some share pictures for sharing our love for Free Software and a lot of people participated. Also we created a special Software Freedom Podcast Episode which provides a nice background of the origins and the highlights of the last eleven years of the "I Love Free Software Day".

This year the FSFE celebrates its 20th anniversary. Support our work for the next 20 years to come

What have we done? Inside and outside the FSFE

  • As you know from our previous newsletters, the FSFE was again present at FOSDEM with a community event before FOSDEM, and this year we also co-organised the Legal and Policy Devroom for the first time. Now [all talks are available online], including the talks in the Devroom as well as Cory Doctorow's keynote in our community event.
  • Cory Doctorow at FSFE's Community Event
  • Johanna Pohl, Anja Höfner, Friederike Rohde and the FSFE's Erik Albers published an Open Access article about the "Design Options for Long-lasting, Efficient and Open Hardware and Software" in "Ökologisches Wirtschaften: Digitalisation and Sustainability"
  • Our PMPC Video is now available in Swedish; it is now available in nine different languages.
  • The FSFE was present at this year's Chemnitzer Linuxtage where Bonnie Mehring gave a talk about "Public Money? Public Code!" in which she explained how the campaign framework can be used to push for the adoption of Free Software friendly policies on a local level. Matthias Kirschner gave a talk about "20 years FSFE - The long road to software freedom"
  • Erik Albers was at the Winterkongress of the Digitale Gesellschaft Schweiz, where he gave a talk about the sustainability of Free Software.
  • In the aftermath of his participation in a panel discussion about opportunities, hurdles with and incentives for Free Software in the public administration, Matthias Kirschner wrote down his recommendations and thoughts for public procurement and Free Software in his blog.
  • The German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg, together with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, are planning to set up a joint Free Software code repository for public administrations, consisting of a central part and compatible, decentralized "satellites". This approach comes close to our demands formulated in the initiative "A Place for Public Code"
  • On 17 March 2021, in the Netherlands the Bestuursafdeling van de Raad van State heard our Dutch team member Jos van den Oever in a case against the Tweede Kamer. It concerns the app 'Debat Direct'. With this app, debates in the Lower House can be followed. Jos requested the Tweede Kamer to disclose the source code of the app 'Debat Direct'. As yet, Chamber President Arib refuses to make this public. [https://broncode.org/nieuws/20210315.html]

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 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, Erik Albers

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Statement on Richard Stallman rejoining the FSF board

24. März 2021 um 00:00

Statement on Richard Stallman rejoining the FSF board

We learnt through a public announcement that Richard Stallman is again part of the board of directors of the Free Software Foundation, one of our independent sister organisations. We disapprove of this step that came without any message of remorse or willingness to change.

In 2019, Richard Stallman resigned as president and board member of the Free Software Foundation. On 21 March 2021 Stallman announced he is member of the board again. The FSFE only learnt about that fact through his public announcement.

We believe this step and how it was communicated harms the future of the Free Software movement. The goal of the software freedom movement is to empower all people to control technology and thereby create a better society for everyone. Free Software is meant to serve everyone regardless of their age, ability or disability, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. This requires an inclusive and diverse environment that welcomes all contributors equally. The FSFE realises that we ourselves and the Free Software movement still have to work hard to be that place where everyone feels safe and respected to participate in it in order to fulfill the movement's mission.

One crucial factor in making our community more inclusive is to recognise and reflect when other people are offended or harmed by our own actions and consider this feedback in future actions. The way Richard Stallman announced his return to the board unfortunately lacks any acknowledgement of this kind of thought process, and we are deeply disappointed that the FSF board did not address these concerns before electing him a board member again. Overall, we feel the current step sends the wrong signal to existing and future community members.

That is why, as a legally and financially independent organisation, in which Richard Stallman has not had any decision-making powers, we call for his resignation from all FSF bodies. The FSF needs to seriously reflect on this decision as well as their decision-making process to prevent similar issues from happening again. Therefore, in the current situation we see ourselves unable to collaborate both with the FSF and any other organisation in which Richard Stallman has a leading position. Instead, we will continue to work with groups and individuals who foster diversity and equality in the Free Software movement in order to achieve our joint goal of empowering all users to control technology.

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Von Uri über Bern: Freie Software wird die Welt revolutionieren

18. März 2021 um 00:00

Von Uri über Bern: Freie Software wird die Welt revolutionieren

Immer mehr Verwaltungen folgen dem Prinzip „Public Money? Public Code!“ und setzen auf Freie Software. In der Schweiz wird seit einigen Jahren erfolgreich die Freie Software „Caluma“ eingesetzt, um die Verwaltung von Bauanträgen zu meistern.

Der Kanton Uri hat gerade einmal 36.500 Einwohner und ist primär durch den Gotthardpass bekannt. Aber in den letzten Jahren ist der Kanton auch auf Grund seines Einsatzes von Freier Software (auch Open Source genannt) für die Verwaltung immer bekannter geworden. Seit Jahren setzt das kleine Kanton vermehrt auf Freie Software und konnte durch den erfolgreichen Einsatz auch weitere Kantone von einem Wechsel zu Freier Software überzeugen. So etwa auch der Kanton Bern.

Wappen Kanton Uri und Bern

Gemeinsam mit Paul Walker vom Kanton Uri, Bruno Mohr vom Kanton Bern und Christian Zosel vom Hersteller der Software, haben wir über das Tool und die Bedeutung von Freier Software für eine moderne Verwaltung gesprochen.

Die vier Freiheiten Freier Software, die Software für jeden Zweck ohne Einschränkungen zu verwenden und weiterzugeben, die Transparenz, den Code einzusehen und die Möglichkeit die Software den eigenen Bedürfnissen entsprechend zu jeder Zeit anzupassen und auch diese Veränderungen weitergeben zu können, ist für Verwaltungen von enormer Bedeutung.

„Die Freiheit dort zu entwickeln wo es notwendig ist – dafür braucht man zwingend offene Software.“ Paul Walker, Kanton Uri.

Dass Transparenz für Vertrauen sorgt, haben wir erst kürzlich bei der Debatte um die Corona Tracing Apps gesehen. Bürgerinnen und Bürger können so sicher sein, dass etwa mit ihren personenbezogenen Daten korrekt umgegangen wird. Zudem können durch die Zusammenarbeit mit anderen Verwaltungen mittel- bis langfristig Kosten und damit Steuergeld gespart werden. Der Einsatz von Freier Software ermöglicht Verwaltungen somit völlig neue Möglichkeiten der Kollaboration. Das Prinzip „Einmal entwickeln, mehrfach nutzen“ ist eine Abkehr vom ständigen Lizenzkauf von Produkten, die nicht den Bedürfnissen einer modernen Verwaltung sondern dem Geschäftsmodell eines Anbieters entsprechen. Gerade für kleinere Verwaltungen ist das attraktiv. Freie Software erlaubt zudem durch die Unabhängigkeit von einzelnen Anbietern ein großes Maß an digitaler Souveränität.

Und auch für die Firmen lohnt sich dieses Modell: Es lassen sich leichter Angestellte finden, sodass Vorteile auf dem Arbeitsmarkt entstehen. Auch die Produkte müssen am Puls der Zeit bleiben und sich an den Bedürfnissen der Nutzerinnen und Nutzer orientieren, um nicht von Mitbewerbern überholt zu werden. Der Innovationsdruck führt zu wettbewerbsfähigen Produkten die Kunden binden und neue akquirieren.

So ist es nicht verwunderlich, dass das Kanton Uri schnell andere Kantone vom Einsatz Freier Software überzeugen konnte. Bruno Mohr vom Kanton Bern etwa lies sich schnell begeistern: „Paul Walker hat uns den Speck durch den Mund gezogen und da wussten wir: Genau das wollen wir!“ Und dabei war Paul Walkers Argument so bestechend wie einfach: „Ich bin überzeugt: Open Source wird die Welt revolutionieren und je früher die Kantone merken, dass dies der beste Weg ist, desto besser für diese Kantone.“

Das Beispiel der Kantone Uri und Bern zeigt, dass das Prinzip „Public Money? Public Code“ allen zu Gute kommt: Bürgerinnen und Bürgern, der Verwaltung aber auch den Unternehmen. Wir fordern daher, dass mit öffentlichen Geldern entwickelte Software unter einer Freie-Software Lizenz veröffentlicht wird. Wenn es sich um öffentliche Gelder handelt, sollte auch der Code öffentlich sein! Ihr könnt uns dabei unterstützen, indem ihr die Kampagne unterzeichnet, unsere Broschüre verteilt und eure lokale Verwaltung davon überzeugt, auf Freie Software zu setzen.

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"I Love Free Software Day" report for 2021

19. März 2021 um 00:00

"I Love Free Software Day" report for 2021

This year we celebrated the 11th edition of the "I Love Free Software Day". Every year on 14 February we show our love for Free Software and say thank you to the people working for software freedom. To all of you who took part and celebrated the "I Love Free Software Day", we - the Free Software Foundation Europe - would like to thank you so much.

"I Love Free Software Day" 2021

For this year's "I Love Free Software Day" we tried something new. Together with FSFE's volunteer Florian Snow we created some share pictures for sharing our love for Free Software. Those share pics could be used to create a personalised message saying why you love Free Software. The pictures could then also be shared on social media.

Our second novelty this time was our Software Freedom Podcast Episode. It provides a nice background from Matthias Kirschner, the President of the FSFE, of the origin and last 11 years of the "I Love Free Software Day". For the episode, Bonnie Mehring also invited several people from popular Free Software communities and asked them to share their thoughts about "I Love Free Software Day" and its importance.

Similarly to the last years we have been heavily present on social media, and due to the current pandemic had not planned for any offline events. But this did not prevent us from celebrating and sharing our love for Free Software. Here are the figures for "I Love Free Software Day" 2021. In the Fediverse #ilovefs was the most used hashtag!

Statistics for "I Love Free Software Day" 2021

As in previous years, a lot of us were active in the Fediverse and on Twitter. We counted 411 tweets on Twitter and 210 toots in the Fediverse using the hashtag #ilovefs. People from all over the world joined the "I Love Free Software Day" via social media and tweeted and tooted from at least 328 different places. The most messages were published during the 14th of February, around noon (CET). Thanks to our former intern and current volunteer Jan Weymeirsch who wrote a scraper to collect and analyse the data, we have concrete numbers and visuals to support them:

Spreading love for Free Software online #ilovefs Time-plot for spreading love for Free Software online #ilovefs

Celebrating together

Some people were inspired by the new share pic design and designed their own to show the world why they think it is important to use Free Software and to say thank you. This year, both people and organisations used the opportunity to send a big thank-you to those working so hard for software freedom during the year.

Also, while social distance kept us from celebrating together offline, we were still able to join each other online. One example for this is the Developers Italia who created a lovely group picture.

Besides hundreds of individuals, projects also joined the celebration and some even created special blog entries, like The Document Foundation and Debian. Because of the overwhelming amount, we are not able to highlight all of them but have only named these two.

Comparing numbers

Compared to last year's high, we noticed a slight decrease in tweets and toots and went back to the level of the participation in 2019. While in 2020, 539 tweets were posted on Twitter and 330 in the Fediverse network, there were 473 tweets and 194 toots in 2019. This was not unexpected as this year's event was on a Sunday.

But nevertheless the important takeaway is the meaning behind those numbers. It is the sense of the community feeling they demonstrate. All those people, organisations and companies from different Free Software communities joining the "I Love Free Software Day", celebrating together and being able to share common values. Together, we show how important are using, studying, sharing and improving software for a better digital and analogue world!

In case you missed your opportunity to thank your favourite project, mark February 14 as "I Love Free Software Day" in your calendar for next year. But remember, you can always and without any special occasion express your gratitude and appreciation throughout the entire year. You do not need a special day, as there is simply no wrong time for that!

We would like to thank everyone involved in and contributing to this day, as well as the countless developers, translators, community managers, artists and anyone else involved in Free Software.

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FSFE at FOSDEM 2021

11. März 2021 um 00:00

FSFE at FOSDEM 2021

FOSDEM, the biggest annual Free Software event in Europe, took place again this year on the first weekend in February. As we do every year, we organised a community event before FOSDEM and this year we also co-organised the Legal and Policy Devroom for the first time.

While FOSDEM normally occurs every year in the Free University of Brussels, this year it happened online for the first time - and completely with Free Software. FOSDEM had more than 25 simultaneous talks at times, with accompanying interactive text-based chat rooms, live Q&A with the speakers on video, and “hallway track” breakout rooms after each talk where speakers and attendees could join video chat together and discuss the talk. According to the main FOSDEM organisers, they had a peak of 33,600 attendees. This year, FSFE is also honoured to have co-organised the Legal and Policy Devroom at FOSDEM for the first time. And ad we do every year, we hosted a great community event before FOSDEM, this time with a keynote from Cory Doctorow.

Cory Doctorow at FSFE's Community Event

FSFE PRE-FOSDEM Community Event

We started this year's FOSDEM with a social meeting on Friday evening. For our FSFE PRE-FOSDEM community event, Cory Doctorow gave a keynote on internet monopolies and software freedom - a lecture you should not miss.

FOSDEM21: Legal and Policy Devroom agenda

FOSDEM's Legal and Policy Issues Devroom addresses important Free Software related policy or legal topics. Our community has substantial expertise in this area, yet there are few venues to discuss these matters in a forum open to all. Hackers, developers, contributors, lawyers, policy experts, and community leaders all possess expertise in these matters.

Together with our co-organisers Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn from Software Freedom Conservancy, and Richard Fontana from Red Hat, we discussed at the final panel the most important issues of the devroom and also tackled some topics that were missing from the agenda. This might be a good first video for you to get an overview of our devroom.

Free Software strategy of the Commission

On 21 October 2020, the European Commission approved their new "Open Source Software Strategy 2020-2023". We had an interview with Evangelos Tsavalopoulos from the European Commission on this. In the interview we asked important questions about this strategy and also addressed pressing questions from members of our community.

Router Freedom

FSFE’s Deputy Legal Coordinator, Lucas Lasota, presented an overview on the current state of router freedom in Europe. New rules in the EU have created challenges to router freedom, given that IAPs (Internet Access Providers) will be able to limit router freedom based on "objective technological necessity". The talk went through the historical aspects and future developments in Europe, why Free Software is a fundamental enabling element, and how people can get involved.

Health public policy

In a panel moderated by Karen Sandler on Software and Hardware Freedom in health public policy, Fabio Balli, Adriana Groh and Luis Falcon, discussed the extent to which Free Software and Open Hardware can be used in the public health sector. The Corona crisis has clearly shown us that we also need to work together in the area of software and hardware. For example Hackathons were held in various countries to find software solutions to counter this crisis. The development of tracing apps or solutions for hospitals and health authorities has also shown that Free Software can help many people and that isolated solutions are counterproductive. The panel discussed what lessons we can learn from the crisis and how Free Software and Open Hardware must be used in the future.

Funding for Free Software projects

In a talk by Sven Franck the question of funding for Free Software projects was addressed. He demanded that Free Software be given a tax break. He presented several initiatives from the Libre Endowment Fund ("Fonds de Dotation du Libre" in French) - from financing feature development of Free Software to releasing a 4G/5G base station as open hardware or supporting litigation against the French government's decision to host health data on Microsoft servers.

Licencing and Compliance

We also addressed questions on licensing and compliance. Bradley M. Kuhn moderated a panel with John Sullivan, Miriam Ballhausen, Davide Ricci, and Eilís Ní Fhlannagáin on the question whether present compliance practices assure software freedom for device users. Compliance with Free Software licenses remains a perennial topic of discussion among policy makers in our community. However, little attention is paid to the motivations why these licenses have specific requirements. Specifically, at least for copyleft licenses, the licenses seek to bestow specific rights and freedoms to the users who receive the software integrated into the devices they use. This panel discussed the challenges and importance of assuring that downstream users can actually utilize the compliance artifacts they receive with products as intended by the license.

A talk by Cornelius Schumacher from KDE addressed how a large community and a company worked together in terms of licensing: "Protecting against proprietary re-licensing with a community contract - How the KDE Free Qt Foundation ensures software freedom for twenty-five years and counting". This presentation explained the community contract, how it augments the dual-licensing model, and how it has evolved and served its purpose for 25 years and counting. It also discussed the lessons learned and how it can serve as a model for other organisations.

And Giovanni Battista Gallus, Fabio Pietrosanti, Carlo Piana and Alberto Pianon, discussed the first AGPL compliance case settled in an Italian court. Globaleaks is an AGPLv3+ SaaS application for anonymous whistleblowing, developed by the Hermes Center. After receiving a prototype, the Italian Anticorruption Authority (ANAC) re-published a version under the EUPL, modifying the attribution and the copyright statement, removing reasonable notice from the GUI, and failing to fully comply with source code obligations. After several attempts for an out-of-court solution, the question was finally settled by the parties, restoring the correct license and the other issues. There are several lessons to be learned from this controversy. License compatibility and the other Free Software obligations (including conveying the corresponding source code) are not to be taken lightly, and require a good degree of knowledge and expertise, especially when they are related to an application which has been implemented by several public administrations.

Digital Markets Act

Also actual legislative proposals have been addressed. Vittorio Bertola gave a talk "Free Software, Interoperability and the Digital Markets Act", proposing new European regulation to open up the dominant platforms. The European Commission recently proposed new regulations (DSA/DMA/DGA) to protect democracy and restore openness and competition. The talk introduced them and their economic and political background; it then focused on a specific point, the requirement for dominant platforms to interoperate with third parties, though only in limited cases, using messaging and social media as example.

Free Software Culture

Deb Nicholson and Hong Phuc Dang asked if Free Software culture is too US-centric and argued why it should not be so. Free Software is made up of a truly global community of tinkerers, collaborators, and innovators. In this conversation, Deb Nicholson and Hong Phuc Dang look at the global state of Free Software policy and talk about why no particular country – especially the US – should be centered.

REUSE - make licensing easy for humans and machines alike

Beside the talks at the Legal and Policy Devroom, our Programme Manager Max Mehl gave a talk on "REUSE - Best practices for declaring copyright and licenses" at the OpenChain Devroom. With three simple steps, REUSE makes adding and reading licensing and copyright information easy for both humans and machines. This presentation will guide you through the REUSE best practices and shows how to make clear licensing simple.

We hope you enjoyed this year's FOSDEM as much as we did. We are already looking forward to the next FOSDEM.

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20 Years FSFE: Interview with Reinhard Müller

05. März 2021 um 00:00

20 Years FSFE: Interview with Reinhard Müller

In 2021, the Free Software Foundation Europe turns 20. This is a moment that we want to use to celebrate our community with a series of publications. In our second publication we interview Reinhard Müller who has contributed as a volunteer since 2002 in various roles from local activities to the European core team.

Reinhard Müller claims that his T-shirt folding capabilities are legendary. Without denying this fact, anyone who has worked with Reinhard on behalf of the FSFE can confirm that his dedication to Free Software and the FSFE is legendary as well. Reinhard joined the FSFE as a volunteer in its first year and met in person with the volunteers behind the FSFE's very first booth at FOSDEM in 2002. In the years following, Reinhard held many different positions inside the FSFE community. Reinhard became a founding member of the Austria country team, joined the FSFE's General Assembly as an official member and even helped to run the organisation for several years as Financial Officer and part of the FSFE's Executive Council. In all these positions Reinhard helped shape the organisation of the FSFE and still does, so much that many people are surprised when they hear that Reinhard is a volunteer and not a paid staffer of the FSFE.

Reinhard Müller socialising at the General Assembly 2015.

Besides his official positions, Reinhard never stopped contributing. That means listing all of his contributions in one webpage basically seems impossible, but we try to mention a few: Reinhard engaged as a local volunteer in the Vienna group and the FSFE's country team Austria, organised and ran countless number of booths in Austria, in Germany and his favorite one every year at FOSDEM. Apart from these local engagements, Reinhard is always eager to shape the FSFE's European engagement by participating in the European core team discussions and decisions. And although Reinhard already had a lot of responsibility with the FSFE's yearly bookkeeping and communication with donors as our financial officer, he additionally spent his free time with countless contributions to the website, including his constant optimisations of our self-written static website generator and the automatisation of information material orders. Not forgetting to mention that in all his contributions and positions, he always aimed at making himself replaceable at the same time by maintaining comprehensive and understandable documentation of his work and hand-overs.

Finally, anyone who has met Reinhard before will agree that his most obvious and visible contributions are his highly social skills. Be it as the good spirit behind the booth, during intense and funny conversations after the booth is closed or deep at night when Reinhard performs one of his self-written songs about the FSFE: Thank you very much for being with the FSFE in the last 20 years and we hope you stay with us in the next 20 years!

Interview with Reinhard Müller

You were looking for opportunities to get involved in the Free Software movement when you saw the announcement that the Free Software Foundation Europe was going to be founded. What made you curious about the FSFE and do you remember the first contact you had with the FSFE? How did it evolve from there?

Reinhard Müller: The thing about the FSFE which attracted me most was that there was something being started in Europe. Back 20 years ago, the whole Free Software community looked very US-centric to me, and I thought that an European organisation would make it easier for me to get involved.

At some point I started to write occasional emails to the public discussion list and contributing my view about topics like whether it should be possible to make money from Free Software, or whether the FSFE should take money from companies. Funny how some discussions seem to come up again and again even after 20 years...

Back 20 years ago, the whole Free Software community looked very US-centric to me, and I thought that an European organisation would make it easier for me to get involved.

My first in-person contact to the FSFE was at FOSDEM 2002, where I met Volker Dormeyer at the FSFE booth and had a nice conversation with him. I'd never have thought that this would be the start of such a long tradition - I've been with the FSFE at each FOSDEM ever since, except for the virtual one this year.

Very soon I also started to join the discussions and physical meetings of the FSFE's Austrian associate organisation, from which the Austrian country team of the FSFE evolved later.

For Reinhard Müller it is sometimes hard to decide what is the higher source of energy: spending some time at the beach or run a booth for the FSFE.

FSFE: Although you never got paid from the FSFE, from 2007 to 2017 you have been taking over the responsibility of the financial officer at the FSFE, and you still keep contributing heavily in our financial team. What are the financial challenges for a volunteer driven European NGO?

I think the biggest challenge is the contradiction between the desire on the one hand to plan ahead for the association's activities, and thus also its expenditure, and the impossibility on the other hand to predict the future development of incoming donations.

At the FSFE, we are fortunate to be able to alleviate this problem in two ways: firstly, our numerous supporters ensure that we receive regular and predictable payments with their monthly or annual contributions, and secondly, we have been able to build up financial reserves over the past years that allow us to compensate for fluctuations. Both factors allow us to act freely and without regard to any interests of our corporate donors.

FSFE: What is the most important thing so far that you learnt from your work at the FSFE?

Don't think in weeks or months, but in years, if not decades. Enjoy your successes, but don't overestimate their long-term impact. Don't overestimate the impact of setbacks, either. And always plan your activities in a way that they can survive the point at which you personally lose interest in them.

Ever since it has been started, the "I love Free Software" campaign has been my favorite.

FSFE: And what is your personal favorite activity, campaign or message that the FSFE has done or is still doing?

Ever since it started, the "I love Free Software" campaign has been my favorite. It sends a thoroughly positive message, it helps to remind people of the benefits of free software, and it offers everyone a low-threshold and easy way to participate.

Reinhard Müller participating in his favorite campaign.

FSFE: Many people know you from your happy face behind FSFE booths all around Europe, especially at FOSDEM. What is so fun about it that you travel hundreds of kilometers to spend a weekend at an FSFE booth?

It's the people I meet there. With a trip to such an event, I get the possibility to meet and talk in person with exactly those people I work with over the internet during the rest of the year, and I also meet people less tightly associated with the FSFE who just come to the booth, buy a T-shirt and tell us that we're doing great work. Both are an essential source of energy and motivation for me for the work I do in the FSFE.

FSFE: From all the moments behind the FSFE booth, can you tell us one of the stories that still warm up your heart or that always makes you laugh or smile when you remember it?

Once at FOSDEM, when I still was rather new in the FSFE, Alan Cox, a well-known leading Linux kernel developer, happened to stand near our booth, and when somebody asked him about the latest news regarding software patents, he pointed to our booth and said: “ask them, they know that stuff better than me”. At that moment, I felt incredibly proud being a part of the FSFE, and I think it somehow helped me shape my vision of this organisation: let all the excellent Free Software developers in this world do their work and save their backs from the political or legal issues they don't want to mess around with.

However, the most beautiful memories are more related to the hours around the actual events: spending the LinuxTag social event sitting in the lawn, playing the guitar and singing, taking the metro after FOSDEM with 10 FSFE volunteers and 30 "I love Free Software" balloons, playing the piano in the Cafe Kafka in Brussels, or just spending insanely long evenings in restaurants, bars, and hotel lobbies with extensive discussions about how to change the world to the better.

FSFE: As a last question, what do you wish the FSFE for the next 20 years?

May the FSFE always keep a healthy balance between professionalism and openness to volunteer contributions, never lose its roots in the Free Software community, keep a dedicated and highly effective team of paid staff, and at the same time continue to affirm to volunteers that their work is important and valued. Success in the FSFE's activities will result from that naturally.

FSFE: Thank you very much!

About "20 Years FSFE"

In 2021 the Free Software Foundation Europe turns 20. This means two decades of empowering users to control technology.

Turning 20 is a time when we like to take a breath and to look back on the road we have come, to reflect the milestones we have passed, the successes we have achieved, the stories we have written and the moments that brought us together and that we will always joyfully remember. In 2021 we want to give momentum to the FSFE and even more to our pan-European community, the community that has formed and always will form the shoulders that our movement relies on.

20 Years FSFE is meant to be a celebration of everyone who has accompanied us in the past or still does. Thank you for contributing your piece of the puzzle that shapes the FSFE and setting the foundation for the next decades' work of the movement for software freedom.

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Refund of pre-installed Windows: Lenovo must pay 20,000 euros in damages

02. März 2021 um 00:00

Refund of pre-installed Windows: Lenovo must pay 20,000 euros in damages

In a historic judgment in Italy, in a case initiated by FSFE supporter Luca Bonissi, Lenovo was ordered to pay 20,000 euros in damages for abusive behaviour in denying to refund the price of a pre-installed Windows licence. In a motivating gesture for the Free Software cause, Luca donated 15,000 euros to the FSFE.

We all know how frustrating it is to buy a brand new computer and realise that it comes with a pre-installed proprietary operating system. Some companies have adapted their unfair behaviour and established clearer procedures for consumers to obtain the refund for paid licences of software they do not want to use. However, some computer manufacturers like Lenovo still make it very hard for consumers, forcing them to assert their rights in expensive and exhausting lawsuits. This is the successful story of Luca Bonissi, an Italian developer and long-term FSFE supporter and volunteer, in his relentless quest for getting a Windows licence refund, and how Lenovo was ordered to pay 20,000 euros for its unlawful behaviour during the court proceedings.

Lenovo and pre-installed Windows: market and consumer abuse

It should go without saying that everyone should be able to freely choose the operating system to run on their personal computers. Free Software is about granting the liberty for people to freely run software they desire and, consequently, decline the software not respecting their freedom. But Microsoft and the vast majority of hardware manufacturers dishonour this principle by dictating which operating system their customers must use, forcing them to run Windows even when they simply do not want to.

In March 2018, Luca bought a brand-new Lenovo Ideapad convertible tablet and decided he wouldn't run Windows on it. Instead, he contacted Lenovo to file a request for refund and return of the pre-installed Windows. What followed was a truly legal and bureaucratic quest which consumed years, several court proceedings, and much resilience and determination from Luca.

Two years, two lawsuits and much money spent - all because of a 42-euro licence

After having his requests pretentiously denied twice by Lenovo, Luca tried to seek help from the Italian Competition and Market Authority (AGCM). However, when he realised that these efforts were fruitless, Luca decided to take legal action against Lenovo.

Due to the low cost of the Windows home licence, Luca could start the proceedings before a court for small cases without the assistance of a lawyer. However, in the face of Lenovo's aggressive defence, Luca sought professional help. In June 2019, the Justice of the Peace of Monza recognised Luca's right to reimbursement and ordered Lenovo to refund 42 euros for the Windows licence and 130 euros for court costs.

Lenovo was dissatisfied with the verdict. The company summoned "heavy legal artillery", and appealed, indicating 15 grounds on which the sentence had to be revised in a 59-page document. Lenovo's disproportionate and complex arguments imposed on Luca the necessity to defend himself with a lawyer on the appeal too. By now, the refund request, which could have been resolved by a simple email if Lenovo acted in good faith, was already lasting more than two years and cost several hundred euros for Luca.

The outcome: 20,000 euros in damages for consumer abuse

Finally, in December 2020, the Court of Monza rejected all Lenovo's arguments, confirming that the right to reimbursement of the pre-installed software was due. The sentence pointed out that the manufacturer itself had expressly assumed this obligation in the Windows licence. But that is not all: in a historic decision, the court imposed upon Lenovo punitive damages amounting to 20,000 euros for abuse of the appeal procedures. Lenovo forced its customer to take part in a disproportionate and unnecessary legal process. The court also noted that this case is an example of the arrogance and prevarication of a giant company against a modest consumer. In the end, the court ruled that the sum was to be paid to Luca, by way of compensating for the damage caused by aggravated procedural liability.

This decision is a major win against tech companies' questionable commercial practices of hindering a consumer's ability to get a refund for pre-installed proprietary software. However, the price ordinary people have to pay to get their rights is still high, as Luca reminds:

"Although the reimbursement was recognised, seeking it can be economically disadvantageous for consumers. The high litigation costs and risks, as well as the low economic return, constitute a strong deterrent which prevent anyone pursuing a refund for pre-installed Windows. Considering that the normal consumer does not have the technical and legal skills to face such case without a lawyer, and the risk that the manufacturers could drag the case out for several years, it will be very unlikely anyone feels encouraged to sue tech giants, unless sentences such as that of the Court of Monza force manufacturers to comply with their own licences and develop better refund policies".

What was taken from Free Software returned to Free Software

For decades, computer manufacturers have artificially increased hardware prices for users of GNU/Linux with a mandatory payment to Microsoft by bundling computers with a Windows licence. As seen, producers like Lenovo do not comply with their own terms and make it almost impossible for customers to get a refund for non-used Windows licences. The best treatment is still prevention. Users are best advised to buy hardware from vendors which offer computers with Free Software or which sell it without proprietary software in the first place.

Everyone should be able to run the software they want on their computer.

Some manufacturers have defined better policies and procedures to obtain the refund, but for others the users have to write insistently, and, as a last resort, file a lawsuit. In 2019, Luca initiated a similar case against HP, in which he also achieved a favourable decision in December 2020. Several FSFE volunteers have shared their experiences in getting the Windows refund. We are extremely grateful to all of them, especially to Luca who also shared the documentation and procedures in the updated wiki page for Italy.

Notwithstanding the several hurdles imposed by Microsoft and hardware manufacturers, we recommend that everyone ask for a refund of the unused Windows licences when buying a new PC. These insidious practices must not prevail in scaring Free Software users away from enjoying their liberty of running any software they choose. In a deeply motivating act, Luca donated 15,000 euros from the recovered damages to the FSFE, encouraging people to stand their ground for their rights.

Since its foundation in 2001, the FSFE has been working to foster Free Software in Europe and beyond. With our concrete activities, based upon the three pillars of our work, we focus on protecting and extending user rights. Some of our actions run for many years, some are aimed at short-term developments, but all are part of our mission: to empower users to control technology. You can also get involved, and together we can improve the treatment of Free Software users by large tech companies

"The Monza decision demonstrated that is possible to reverse the unacceptable behaviour of big techs. What was taken away from the Free Software community has now been returned to it. I encourage everyone to fight back for their legitimate rights!" - Luca Bonissi.

Further materials

A special thanks is due to Luca for compiling in a very methodical and organized way all the documentation involved in the lawsuits related to the Windows licence refunds.

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