Hi this is going to be an official account for FOSDEM.org in the future #patience-please #Free #Libre #Open-source


@fosdem Hi there, welcome to the fediverse.

Who are your sponsors this year? Will you have the world’s #1 surveillance capitalist (Google) as your primary sponsor again?

What’s FOSDEM’s official stance on surveillance capitalism? Are you ethically/morally opposed to the business model of tracking/profiling people to manipulate their behaviour for profit or do you support it (being neutral in this, as in any situation of injustice, takes the side of the oppressor).

Look forward to your answer.

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@aral We are a conference and platform for and about free and open source software. As such we welcome all free and open source developers from all over the world, regardless of their affiliation. We use donations to make this event possible. We aren't selective about sponsors and sources of donations, for sponsors have no influence on the selection of the contents for the event.

@fosdem That “free” word you keep using refers to “freedom”.

”We aren’t selective about about sponsors and sources of donations” is tone-deaf, reckless, & simply not acceptable in 2018 for any group that seeks legitimacy in the ethics of what they do.

Palantir develops open source (palantir.github.io) and also helps ICE find & deport asylum seekers. By your (lack of) ethical standards, they would be welcome as a sponsor.

Please see fundingmatters.tech and review your stance on this.

As long as @fosdem remains wilfully ignorant of the role they play in legitimising surveillance capitalism by ignoring the ethics of their sponsorship choices, I encourage any group who purports to care about human rights to boycott their event.

@indie and I will be boycotting it until such time as their policies forbid sponsorship by (and thus legitimisation of) surveillance capitalists like Google (their main sponsor last year), Facebook, and Palantir.

@aral @fosdem @indie You cannot be against surveillance capitalism, and then demand that surveillance and investigation happens. It is irrelevant that you want this to prevent the proliferation of surveillance capitalism. There is no way to prevent all financial transactions from the sponsors and donators without lowering yourself to their level.

@wodan @fosdem @indie What you just wrote is the largest pile of bullshit I read in quite a while. I am literally dumber for having read it. How do you equate not legitimising surveillance capitalism with surveillance capitalism itself. Truly amazing.

You can absolutely not take money from companies you are ethically opposed to and do not want to legitimise: it’s called having principles and a fucking backbone.

@aral @fosdem @indie It's perfectly fine to refuse to take money from companies you're ethically opposed to. But you seem to be unable to understand the concept of being neutral. Choosing is loosing.

@wodan @fosdem @indie Yeah, man (goodness, how I know you’re a man), neither I nor Desmond Tutu understand the concept of neutrality, which is why we are so blessed to have you, dear anonymous elephant, to explain it to us – thank your adorable trunk.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” – Demond Tutu

@aral @fosdem @indie Nice quote. But the jury is still out on the 'injustice' and 'oppressor' part. You could be right. You could also be wrong. Maybe you're only seeing the top of the iceberg, and the conspiracy goes way deeper. If you feel up to being the judge, that's fine. Just don't expect others to put 100% faith in your abilities.

Dear @how,

I would strongly urge the Decentralised Internet and Privacy track to reconsider its involvement in @fosdem unless FOSDEM takes a principled stance against surveillance capitalism and disallows sponsorship by (and thereby legitimisation of) surveillance capitalists like Google (their primary sponsor last year), Facebook, and Palantir.

@indie will have nothing to do with the event until such time.

I’d be happy to discuss organising our own event in Europe instead.


@aral @indie @fosdem @how Would berlin be an option if this does not happen? Around the same time last year some of us involved in gnunet and secushare (lynX and others) organized a day of talks and workshops there.

@ng0 @indie @fosdem @how I’d definitely be up for that. I want to see an international meet-up around this issue; I just don’t want it sponsored by (or legitimising) surveillance capitalists like Google.

@ng0 @aral @indie @fosdem

Well, Berlin is always an option, but it's very remote :)

@how @aral Berlin wouldn't be my first choice either, as I'm located in the Ruhrarea ;) Amsterdam, Brussels, local cities, all closer than Berlin.

@ng0 @how Amsterdam is easy for me to get to (direct flight). Plus lots of lovely folks there like Waag, De Balie, etc. Hmm… 🤔

@ng0 @aral @indie

Maybe we can do it in Brussels anyway, and why not at the same time as FOSDEM. That would take advantage of people's presence who are used to go there at this time of the year. FSPG Free Software People Gathering, not only developers. :)

@how @indie @fosdem PS. In case the thread isn’t showing for you: fosstodon.org/@fosdem/10097828

This is FOSDEM’s stance on the issue. If Palantir wanted to be a sponsor, FOSDEM’s response would be along the lines of “Sure, sir. Right this way, sir. Thank you, sir.” Their current policy is that they’ll accept money from anyone, ethics be damned.


@aral @indie @fosdem

Wow, the responses show a complete lack of historical knowledge and political consciousness.

'Neutrality' works only among equals. When you're oppressed, neutrality is collaboration with the oppressor, @fosdem

When Microsoft acquires Github, IBM Redhat, etc., it's not neutral: it's a direct attack on the possibility to pursue the free software movement. Being neutral here is like waiting for the hammer to fall on your heads.

@aral @fosdem @indie

Note that I've seen an M$ presentation proposal, and it's not exactly welcome.

@aral @fosdem Looks like you're having issues with that "freedom" concept. It can apply to anything. You keep promoting one view. You consider your view to be the one and only. You have every possibility to use the platform to spread your view. I consider that freedom. If you want to push back against those that give you a platform, that's fine. It's your choice. But I think you're making an issue of a non-issue. Seems like a waste of efforts to me...

@wodan @fosdem What you call a non-issue is one of the primary reasons why we cannot effectively regulate surveillance capitalists: because people who don’t/won’t understand institutional corruption keep legitimising them (because, hey, why question where the money comes from, amirite?)

I understand the word “freedom” intimately: I understand it doesn’t mean remaining neutral in situations of injustice or implying some sort of relativism between those who protect it and those who restrict it.

@aral @wodan @fosdem Hey, you're making excellent points, but you could also block the concern troll and save your energy for talking to people who aren't annoying as hell.

@aral @wodan while I agree with you on Alphabet Inc. being the largest surveillance oppressor, I don't think that @fosdem is legitimising them. Unevitably, google is very present in many open source projects and wants to sponsor large FOSS events, as part of their openwashing and to drag attention away from the petabyte of mass-survelliance secret software they produce.

All viewpoints have always been welcome at the conf: there are always talks on sovereignity, de-googlification, copyleft...

@danielinux @wodan @bob

I mostly agree with @aral (maybe except on the tone: if we don't assume our intelocutors might might be right, why should they consider we could be right? I think we need to listen more carefully.. 😉 ).

NOTE that the @fosdem's position is pretty similar to that of #Stallman (see newleftreview.org/II/113/richa ), and I think that both are naively wrong: you cannot really optimize a single dimension in a complex dynamic system: the equilibrium is too unstable and unpredictable.

@danielinux @bob @aral @fosdem

Some toots ago @wodan wrote:

> Maybe you're only seeing the top of the iceberg, and the conspiracy goes way deeper.

I'd like you to elaborate.

What do you think it's happening under the hood?

I'd say that the tip of the iceberg is what most people see, free services and annoying nerds concerned with being tracked.

I think I have a pretty clear vision of the whole iceberg. But I like people challenging my vision. What's your take on these matters?

@Shamar @danielinux @wodan @bob @aral @fosdem

IMO going into full attack mode of "why are you collaborating with the oppressors" to someone possibly unaware of the issue is just gonna make them defensive.

Wouldn't it be a better strategy to first provide them with information why google indeed is an oppressor, and why them taking donations from google is a problem?

@Wolf480pl @fosdem @aral @wodan @danielinux @Shamar

It's complicated. Fosdem has been sponsored by Google for a long time afaik. There is probably some non-trivial overlap between FOSS developers and Googlers. And also many people are within the trance of the mainstream media and so unaware of the things it misrepresents or just leaves out entirely.

I think we should get companies like Google out of conferences, but boycotting them isn't necessarily the best way to do it unless there's an alternative one to attend. Otherwise you're merely helping the silo companies by breaking up community events for the few developers who could meaningfully oppose them.

A better way to do it might be to ensure that the organizers don't have a complacent attitude. To give companies like Google a limited platform (if any) in terms of speakers and to ensure that there is critical evaluation of what they say or do. Don't give them an easy ride like they got in the past. Just encouraging more attendees to adopt a critical attitude towards the software they're using, rather than the Sillycon Valley attitude of breathless enthusiasm for any new BS being pushed by a $bigcorp, would do a lot of good.

@bob @fosdem @aral @wodan @danielinux @Shamar

Yeah, the real problem is that people listen thoughtlessly to a company's propaganda and get hyped about every new shiny thing it announces.

I think it would be fun to have google at a conference where people ask difficult questions, point out the corpo's bullshit, and laugh at it.

@bob @Wolf480pl @aral @wodan @danielinux

Also I think that differentiating between #OpenSource and #FreeSoftware would be pretty useful.

#Google and #Palantir both create Open Source software that serve their own political and #marketing purpose as a Trojan horse to every person they can reach.

Free Software is an expression of #hackers' ethics and as such it often at odds with the goals of such companies.

Probably @fosdem is not really about #freedom or curiosity, but a marketing platform.

@Shamar @bob @aral @wodan @danielinux @fosdem

IMO the companies sometimes actually contribute to Free Software projects in a way which benefits us. And we should let them do that, and appreciate if their contributions are good.

OTOH, we should be wary of their propaganda, and be very clear that eg. "yes, Google contributed a lot of good code to the Linux kernel, but their Android system is shit and not much useful for any person valuing their freedom, and the Play Services should die in fire"

@Wolf480pl @bob @wodan @danielinux @fosdem

I'm not sure we can have both.

In this @aral is totally right: in the very moment you take their money (either directly or through their developers' time and code) you legitimate them.

@Shamar @Wolf480pl @bob @wodan @fosdem @aral

FOSDEM is a platform, not an enemy. Boycotting FOSDEM is leaving it to the openwashing machine. Instead, you could use it to bring these issues to a broader public including developers who have been hired by these companies, and fail to see the big picture.

@danielinux @Wolf480pl @bob @wodan

@fosdem is a platform.
A #marketing platform.

It is as neutral as marketing is.

Are all voices equally heard on that platform? I guess they are not.

So I agree with @aral that while neutrality is neutral in theory, in practice it's not.

By attending to FOSDEM you have near zero chance to really challenge Google or Mozilla, while they can simply censor you by ignoring you.

Exploiting this asymmetry they exploit your presence to foster their propaganda.

@Wolf480pl @danielinux @bob @wodan


Don't forget that @fosdem is probably a tool designed very smart guys to exploit #hackers' naive #trust (and everybody else through them).


I have trouble defining how I feel about Google. I appreciate the critiques of surveillance (and I'm in the process of de-googling my life) but Google enables a lot of positive things to happen. Perhaps we should not consider them an enemy but an entity we shouldn't be forced to rely upon.

@Wolf480pl @danielinux @bob @wodan @aral @fosdem


I don't know.

We should more be sincerely afraid of #Google than hate it.

But I think they are actually very dangerous for everybody. Their power surpass that of most world governments (and is tightly coupled with U.S.).

We should not spread hate against them, but for sure we should make people aware of the risks!

And we should teach people HOW to emancipate from Google and friends. That's why I like @bob's #FreedomBone project.

@Wolf480pl @danielinux @wodan @aral @fosdem

@Argus @bob @Wolf480pl @danielinux @wodan @aral

OTOH, regarding @fosdem, I'm more concerned about the cultural damage that #Google can do to hackers' culture than about #SurveillanceCapitalism.

Because #hackers' curiosity could make them realize by themselves the issues and the solutions, while they are stuck to discuss about either buzzwords (eg blockchain) or bullshit (eg CoCs).

These company hire the best software engineers also to prevent they turn to actual hackers, politically aware.

Thanks for the link - I find these projects interesting and now I have something new to follow.

Shamar, can I ask where you are based? Feel free not to answer. I ask because I'm researching communication and data storage solutions for a partner that's very critical of the US and doesn't want to trust us tech companies. I've been driving deep into alternative solutions.


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@Shamar @Wolf480pl @bob @wodan @fosdem @aral

@Shamar how can you say that voices are not equally heard? Sponsoring FOSDEM gives the sponsor no possibility to interfere with the program. Devrooms have their own schedules that FOSDEM itself cannot veto. Talks like:
happen more and more often.

Talk to developers. Interact. Exchange ideas. Most people are as critical as you are, and you can meet people spending effort to develop free and decentralized alternatives to GAFAM

@danielinux @Wolf480pl @bob @wodan @aral

Well you could do a simple experiment next time you go: count attenders to talks from GAFAM employees + sponsored projects + Mozilla's ones and compare that to the number of attenders to talks from groups and developers that are totally independent from them.

I've never been at @fosdem so I don't really know if their aggregated impact on the FOSDEM narration is statistically relevant. But I guess so.

Am I wrong?
(honest question...)

@Shamar @fosdem @aral @wodan @Wolf480pl @danielinux

Actually a talk on this would be interesting. The schedules are published and so you could create statistics on what percentage of speakers were employed by a silo company at the time.

That would then help to raise questions such as whether there should be a limit on the number of Google speakers at a conference, how much influence those companies really have and things like that.

@bob @fosdem @aral @wodan @Wolf480pl @danielinux

The problem in this is that the number of Google speakers is way lower than the number of Google influenced speaker.

Depending on the amount of money your project get from Google (or anybody else) you might be more or less prone to support their interests.

See #Mozilla, as an example.

@Shamar @danielinux @Wolf480pl @bob @fosdem @aral
Maybe. But @fosdem is not a marketing platform. Sure, there is some of it. And sure, from time to time it gets out of hand. But that's not what @fosdem is about. At all.

@Shamar @Wolf480pl @bob @danielinux @fosdem @aral
And that's where it gets tricky. @fosdem takes money from so many people and organisations. Sure, the number of named sponsors is limited. But there are thousands of people who donate without being mentioned. So your view is to do a complete background check before accepting any donation? Otherwise you don't know what you are (supposedly) legitimating...

@wodan @Wolf480pl @bob @danielinux @fosdem @aral

Well, this is easy to fix.

You cannot legitimate anyone through anonymous donations.

Only allow anonymous donations and you won't legitimate anyone.


I'm curious, what's your mobile phone setup? Are you running #lineage with #fdroid or are you an iOS user? Or rocking one of those straight Linux phones?

@Argus Lineage with Fdroid. But not satisfied with the concept of a smartphone in general.

Please elaborate on that, I would love to hear why.

On FDroid, are you able to operate comfortably in the app catalogue?

@Argus the apps on F-Droid are more than enough for my needs. OTOH, the F-Droid client became shit after the UI redesign.
Actually, that's a problem not just with F-Droid, but also OSMAnd, and may other apps. With time, they became more resource hungry, and made their UI less ergonomic.

Other than that, the concept of using touchscreen for everything is IMO fundamentally flawed. Typing is the worst. You can't sense where the keys are!

A phone with physical keyboard would be a good first step.

@Argus Ideally, I'd like to split what currently constitutes a smartphone into multiple devices:
- cpu module in backpack, with storage, wifi, bluetooth, etc.
- electrically spearate GSM module, connected over wifi to the cpu module
- a bunch of thin clients connected over wifi:
* a handset with numpad for calls
* a qwerty keyboard with display for chat
* a big standalone touchscreen for maps, reading, etc.

Another interesting front to investigate would be adding more input devices to a smartphone. A lot of inspiration could be drawn from game controllers. Buttons on sides? Buttons on the back? Maybe a 1- or 2-dimensional touchpad on the back?

But as for practical requirements of mine:

1. A 4" phone or smaller.
2. If possible, with a physical keyboard.
3. If possible, with apps optimized for low resource usage.

It's hard to find anything that satisfies 1, let alone 2 and 3.

And 4" is as much as I can comfortably reach with my thumb.

Have you looked at and do you have opinions on the #librem5 phone? It sells itself as a phone in your pocket but it will hook up to a monitor and physical keyboard and mouse with a dock.

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