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In 2016, the Free Software Foundation Europe is looking forward towards an exciting year. This is the year when we are celebrating our 15th birthday and that will give us the chance to look back, to see and show how your support brought us here. However, we are also looking forward to mastering the challenges ahead.
Since 2001, a lot has evolved for the good, including the changes that we could not think of once a small team of volunteers from different countries decided to come together in the Villa Vogelsang in Essen, Germany, and to found the Free Software Foundation Europe. Since then, this initial team of activists grew together as friends, FSFE received the Theodor Heuss Medal for our work for freedom in the information society, we became an influential voice on national and European level, we have our third president in office and we became a European wide organisation with a permanent staff team. All of this would not have been possible without the help of you, our Fellows. Your advice, your support, your financial contribution, your local activities, your viral marketing, your campaign projects and all the time you dedicated to us are priceless and what made us strong. We are overwhelmed and happy that in 2016, the Free Software Foundation Europe is carried upon thousands of shoulders. This is why we dedicate this year to you, our Fellows, our community.
We will come up with some activities and stories for you as a thank you during the year and in memory of our 15 years of existence. Let's start this with celebrating the I love Free Software day on February 14 as colourfully as possible. Join us in spreading love towards Free Software and their developers. And don't miss to already save the date from September 2nd to 4th as a core event in 2016. This is the weekend we will organise our first FSFE summit - for and by you. More information will follow.
Half as old as the FSFE is our Document Freedom Day campaign, celebrated for the first time in 2008 to oppose the adoption of Microsoft's OOXML standard - and then turned itself into an annual day to celebrate Open Standards. During the years we had hundreds events all over the globe, we have seen impressive artwork, inspiring comics and videos and we have seen political parties, companies and non-profit organisations using Document Freedom Day to let the world know about the power and freedom of interoperability.
In 2016, however, the FSFE hands over Document Freedom Day campaign to the Digital Freedom Foundation, the organisation that is best known for organising the Software Freedom Day. This way, the FSFE sees the potential to further broaden Document Freedom Day as the international day of Open Standards and to further decentralise the campaign's concept. This year, Document Freedom Day will be on March 30, 2016.
On 19 January, the European Parliament adopted in Plenary its own-initiative report "Towards a Digital Single Market" prepared by the co-rapporteurs Kaja Kallas (ALDE) from the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) and Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D) from Internal Market and Consumers Protection Committee (IMCO). The FSFE's policy team has amended the draft report and is pleased to see that the final version adopted in the Plenary includes several positive statements concerning Free Software.
In particular, the report urges the European Commission and the Council of the EU to increase the share of Free Software and its reuse in public administrations as a solution to increase interoperability. The report also promotes the security advantages of Free Software, and calls the EU to commit to the increased use of Free Software in educational establishments and public administrations. We hope that the European Commission will follow the example of the Parliament and will implement the recommendations to increase the use of Free Software in public sector.
Daniel Pocock blogs about the freedom to leave your phone offline or at home, and argues why you should start with buying a watch.
Hook writes about his positive experience with switching to Let's Encrypt certificates for his server and comes up with some links for more information to do it yourself.
Many of us feel sad these days about the loss of Ian Murdock. His contributions to the world of Free Software and the Debian system are without end. Daniel Pocock gathered some background, feelings and other people's tributes to Ian Murdock on his blog.
Marcus Möller reports and gives a summary about Freedomvote - a successful 'ask you candidates' campaign that the FSFE Switzerland was running for this years elections.
Erik Albers made his first experiences with FirefoxOS and asks Mozilla to put freedom into FirefoxOS market place.
The FSFE group Berlin made a Free Software installation party and liberated 23 PC's with Debian that will be given to refugee organisations and schools.
FSFE provided the European Commission input on setting priorities in ICT standards and answered to the public consultation on the adoption of a Priority ICT Standards Plan. In order for the EU to achieve a true digital single market that is interoperable and pro-competitive, there is a need for standards that are open, minimalistic and implementable with Free Software. Other points that have been risen are that a reference implementation is published under a Free Software licence, that all software developed with public funds is to be released as Free Software, and that harmful licensing practices such as FRAND should be avoided in the fields of software, internet and the web.
Together with April and several other organisations, FSFE signed a joint disagreement against the partnership agreement signed between France's ministry of education and Microsoft about IT solutions in school. The partnership revolves around teachers' training for mastering Microsoft environment, the provision of a cloud ecosystem and an e-learning platform which in total amounts to complete control of IT in French schools under the supervision of Microsoft. With this agreement the ministry is forcing schools and pupils to a particular proprietary vendor.
Just before Christmas and the completion of the EU Data Protection package, all members of the European Parliament received our e-mail self-defense leaflet in their mailboxes. This way we wanted to remind policymakers how important encryption is to everyone's right to privacy.
In 2016 we have 15 years of FSFE and 5 years of I love Free Software Day: Join us in celebrating Free Software by expressing your appreciation towards Free Software developers on February 14! #ILoveFS
As every year, we will have a booth at FOSDEM and a lot of members of our community will give talks or come to listen to talks. It is one of the best chances throughout the year to meet many people from the FSFE.
An amendment to the France's upcoming law for the Digital Republic that obliges public administrations to publish the source code of its custom-built software solutions was adopted by France's parliament. Meanwhile another French city, Grenoble, commits to Free Software that is said to help to increase citzen participation, to cut costs, and facilitate the sharing of knowledge. Speaking of licences, family of Free Software licenses has expanded by three new licences written by the government of the Canadian province of Quebec. This should encourage the province’s public administrations to share their ICT solutions.
your editors Polina Malaja and Erik Albers FSFE