Very recently I was voted the President of Software Freedom International, the group behind the well known Software Freedom Day. I’m pretty excited about this, and keen to get next years event firmly in the sights of more people all over the world. The rest of the board which consists of cool FOSS people from all over the world is on the SFD SFI page.
This years Software Freedom Day is shaping up pretty well, with over 140 teams participating all over the world, including 15 Australian teams and 7 teams in New Zealand. I think we are doing pretty well for such small countries 😉 I’m organising the Sydney event which is looking to be fantastic! More details on that soon 🙂
Software Freedom Day 2006 is charging ahead with over 150 teams registered around the world. The board have decided to give 2 free shirts to each team and extra ones will be available to buy from our webstore for a mere AUD$20 each (including shipping) 🙂 They are bright orange and a rocking way to make your team stand out on the day 🙂 They will include a big SFD 2006 logo on the front.
Note: we can sort out something for teams from developing nations who need assistance in getting more shirts. Just drop an email to the SFD ctte on email@example.com
Also, only about a third of all the registered teams have added their location to the SFD 2006 map, so get cracking! 🙂 The teams who had their details on the 2005 were not automatically added to the 2006 map, so put your team up now! 🙂
Below is something I’ve written up for one of the local universities to publish in their paper about Software Freedom Day. Feel free to copy and send to more people or organisations to try and get the point across. I’ve left the links there plain for easy copy and paste to an email 🙂
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights  is a set of basic human rights that most people would agree would be a bare minimum. Not often are our basic rights thought of in the context of technology, but with more and more our lives are dependent on technology, it is a rapidly growing concern. Technologies that matter to our freedom are used in our voting systems, our leisure, our work, education, art and our communication. What does this mean to you? It means that the basic human freedoms you take for granted are only as free as the technology they are based on.
Transparent and accountable technologies are vital to ensuring we can protect our freedoms. Think about e-Government systems such as electronic voting. When the systems running our voting is proprietary or closed, it means that we can’t be sure what the software actually does, so how can we trust the results? The issues with the Diebold  voting systems in the US is testament  to the need for transparent systems that are trustworthy. Think about other software you use everyday that is proprietary software and apply the fact that you can’t be sure what it is actually doing! Does your email system send copies of your mail to a third party? Is your web browser, logging and automatically sending your browse history to someone? The most interesting case recently was when Sony purposely added spyware  to theirmusic CDs that silently and automatically installed itself onto MicrosoftWindows systems to search for piracy breaches. Their greed has spawned a whole new wave of viruses and is a gross breach of privacy.
So what do I mean by transparent? Well some software gives you access to the source code, such as Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) which ensures that you can know (or get checked) without any question what exactly a piece of software will do. It avoids nasty surprises, spyware, result rigging and all kinds of issues that we can’t be sure to avoid in proprietary software. Proprietary software keeps the source code locked away from public scrutiny which means that there is no way to know exactly what the software actually does, and no way to trust it to safeguard your human rights.
Software Freedom Day is a global initiative with over 150 countries participating on Saturday September 16th. Our event will be right here at UNSW and we will be having a full day of talks about this topic from political, media, arts and of course technology viewpoints. The day is completely free and there will be giveaways, prizes and further information about how you can do your bit to help ensure technology doesn’t act to lock down our human rights. Come along and meet a wide range of people, all working together to help ensure our freedoms are maintained by the technologies of tomorrow. The event information is up at http://softwarefreedomday.org/teams/oceania/au/sydney
 – http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
 – http://safevoting.org/videos/diebold_med.mov
 – http://www.bradblog.com/?p=2433
 – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4400148.stm
I just found this scary video (quicktime sorry!) which is apparently a bunch of Diebold employees talking about their system early in 2004.
Classic quotes include:
“We’ve certified other things that weren’t tested”
“I just want to make sure this machine can add. Remember we’ve recently had machines that didn’t add?”
Software freedom is about transparent systems that we can trust. Systems that underpin our freedoms, our Governments, our schools, our communication and entertainment.
What are you going to do for Software Freedom Day 2006?
This year I am on the board of Software Freedom International, the group that run Software Freedom Day. There is some awesome stuff happening this year, with a competition that includes the folk from LUG Radio, and some FOSS stars. Everyone has a chance to win both signed tshirts and tasty hardware. The competition includes both individual and team prizes. Here is an excellent mockup of a logo done for Australia 🙂
I’ve also written up a short “Why Software Freedom Matters” on the Software Freedom Day site which also mentions that there is only one week left to register your teams!
So the idea is that we are going to be keeping the official SFD logo from 2005 which is basically a sun coming over the mountains with a beautiful sky. Then teams around the world can build their own SFD based on the theme! I mentioned in passing that it would be cool to do an Australia SFD logo using Uluru and, as is often the case in the FOSS world, Phil Harper sent me a picture within a few days of his impression of my idea.
Janet Hawtin, one of the Linux Australia has put together an awesome document which poses questions and answers how the DMCA makes those actions unclear. Examples are being able to read your e-book aloud to your child, being able to install new hardware to your computer, and all kinds of scenarios that make is really obvious in a non-technical fashion why the DMCA style laws being enacted in the Australian/US FTA are so bad for us as a community.
Rock on Janet! Janet also did the Software Freedom Day posters and stuff last year which are all on her website so check them out too 🙂