What do we have to do to set up an *independent organisation* in Europe with an endowment from our (EU taxpayers’) money to maintain a free/open, private-by-default web browser that we legislate must be included in all operating systems made available in the EU?

We would likely fork Firefox, remove all the Silicon Valley/commercial bullshit, and hire engineers from Mozilla and elsewhere who want to work somewhere where they have the freedom to work on a browser for the common good without any Silicon Valley/commercial interference.

The challenge here isn’t technical; it’s funding and independence.

To succeed, any such organisation must be free of political interference and its funding must be guaranteed via an endowment and not privy to the whims of short-term political posturing.

@aral If you manage to reach someone from Igalia, that could be a good avenue for that, because they already have experience and they are strong free software advocates (and a workers cooperative). I know them via Andy Wingo, a maintainer of GNU Guile.

@ArneBab @aral
Are you aware that publishing (on fedi) link to Igalia, you have broke TOS listed on ? :-) Look:

Except for the signs forming part of the hyperlink itself, the page on which the hyperlink is established will contain no distinguishing sign of those acknowledged by current legislation as belonging to Igalia, S. L., except where the latter has given its express authorisation.

Mastodon/Friendica show me not only the link itself but also preview of logo etc... Without their authorisation... :-)
I really don't know if writing so stupid TOS, they differ somehow from big-corpos...
BTW I have also broke TOS because...

The hyperlink will only allow for access to the Web site HOMEPAGE


@miklo @aral Since the preview-image is part of the link, I think any legal action would be on very shaky ground.

@aral the #EU is full of political interference, and not in a good way so this aproch has its own problems.

I have been working with them a bit for the last few years...

@witchescauldron @aral

Ahem, an independent organisation lobbying for a public-funded web browser is technically just as much “political interference” as Google lobbying for the opposite. Any government or international structure such as EU is the sum of political interferences, and it’s only a problem when these are not balanced or some stakeholders are not represented.

Exactly. That's why this idea has great potential as a much needed counterweight to the current interessts tugging on webbrowsers, as they are mainly driven by the ad industry.
@witchescauldron @aral

@xro @kravietz @aral it's a good/bad path, people would be pushing on a open door at the #EU to folk Firefox at mo... Would need a soughted crew and likely in the end get to the same #NGO place that we are in now. A good outcome could do something in the "space" a move like this would open a "commons" for a while #OMN

@witchescauldron @aral In Germany the public media is separated to some degree from short-term politics by separating financing from government decisions. There are people who rally against this, but it is one of the reasons there’s a minimum standard for quality of news that the privates don’t dare to undercut too much.

@ArneBab @aral we used to have the "public broadcasting" in the UK which your Germany system was likely modeled on after WW2.

It's mostly swept away by the last 40 years of #deathcult worshiping over here. So you have the same pressure?

@witchescauldron @aral Yes, we have pressure, since this year even from a mainstream "conservative" party, but the public television still has majority support.

@ArneBab @aral try and keep it, its better crap or worst crap. The is SOME value in social democratic systems in the face of "common sense" #deathcult worshipping. have a call to action once you dissociate with big corporations. Ask the community of people to fund, ask them and the content creators to promote.

We all want the same thing, so we can achieve it.

perhaps nlnet could help with something. if not funding then at least helping to set things up?

@aral sth like the financing of the public broadcasting system (in GER). but without politicians in advisory board but technical and social experts for #sufficience

@aiquez @aral wish i could just redirect my money paid at GEZ to a good cause

just the reporting on Covid has been very false balance which has not exactly helped with the government's abysmal communication and response.

@aral Funding is the issue. I however lean in the direction that software should be crowd funded. That way, actual people are in the control of the project as opposed to organizations.

We need a paradigm shift. We expect everything from the internet to be free. But we need to normalize to give back to creators. We need systems that makes it easy, secure, private and convinient to tip. In a way that preserves autonomy.

@vega If only there was a concept where we could all give a portion of what we make to crowdfund things for the common good… I don’t know, we could call it Raxes? Saxes… ? Something like that ;)

@aral @vega

look, I think I understand you argument

but it's a purely theoretical arguments

We all knwo what taxes are, this soesn't make this idea more feasible

This is something that needs to be hacked through, I'm afraid

there are no shortcuts

Sorry if I sound pessimistic

@aral @vega

this is why I look at Gnome, Kde, Enlightment, any other desktop anv

AND to clw's work

because if we have hte data, we can also support the mantaining of our GUI layer (whatever that is)

In order to have a sustainable frontend, you need the ability to flood it with data

That's the hack we suffered with the web

We should do it again

@aral @vega

this is ot to say that political campaning has no place

It has its place

But political campaining alone won't cut it, I'm afraid

We need to build some mass from an absolutely unfair position

The key word is normalize. It should be so easy to tip that once you have set it up you can donate by clicking a button on the webpage/ browser.

But that would require control. So no automated donations.

@vega @aral How do you prevent crowd funding from going the kickstarter-bow-to-the-rich-premium-backers route?

There are real ways (like co-ops, where members are only allowed to own the same part as the others), but all this is a pretty big organizing effort.

@aral The challenge is also very much political, as well as it is societal.

EU is not that far from openly asking for the same tools/level of control and means to track its 'users', once upon a time called citizens. Maybe not to make gigantic piles of money but that doesn't change their willingness to access and use the exact same tools. And have them developed if need be.

The tracking (as much as our willingness to live with it) is the issue, more than it being commercial or not. Imho.

@aral You are absolutely right, funding is the most challenging part. And you need it for two things - one is development, the other is basically lobbying or campaigning. You can start with either, but will need the other eventually:

if you secure initial funding, hire devs, and create a fork, you'll need to eventually invest in some form of monetization or marketing to convince EU citizens and/or politicians to fund the project.
if you secure initial funding and use it for lobbying/campaigning, you might eventually have enough funds to maintain the project in the long run but will then need to start hiring devs.

In either scenario you'll also have to overcome the overall community's reluctance to invest in the marketing/campaigning/lobbying part.

If you want it to be a robust, sustainable project, it's more about organizing and leading the effort than forking the code.

@aral I'm not sure where to stand on this. Is forking the best option? Are there design baggage if we use firefox code? Wrong assumptions about how the browsing experience should be?

Perhaps by developing a browser from scratch we will have a better understanding of how the browser can be developed further?

If so, then in the long run it might be better to start from scratch.

@aral check history of Cliqz. They started as extension to develop browser (ff fork) to reach search engine. Many, many talented engineers and political contacts to highlight value of EU based solutions. It's full colour story: Dark abyss of financial background, wrong decisions but also interesting story about privacy. Next to lecture you will reach ppl from Mozilla land ;)

@aral what's your pitch though?

* Ignore third party requests entirely
* Start an arms race to block all tracking
* Encourage websites to move away from using third party tracking links, and then remove them

Because the third option still sounds positive to me.

There is already some kind of fork, called #LibreWolf. I'm using since couple of months. It seems to be much more friendly in terms of privacy. And I think is European :-)

@aral I'm with you almost all the way; right up until the "law that requires specific named software to be installed on countless computers". That's a security timebomb if I ever saw one.

@aral @digitalcourage
would be nice if you support development and raising awareness in public opinion
also nice if you would make it possible to make a clean net-adress-space (don't know if that is technically possible or senseful) where #no_dark_patterns and #no_excessive_cookies are used #httpc-c_as_clean

@ao @digitalcourage Oh, excellent, how large is the endowment and when can we start hiring Mozilla engineers to start moving the fork in a different direction? :)

(As I said, the problem isn’t technical. I can fork Firefox in the next minute. And many forks exist. This is about building a browser for the commons from the commons. For that we need an independent organisation funded from the commons. That’s the challenge here.)

@aral I remember how Bewelcome managed to organize an alternative to couchsurfing (which became a commercial stock company some years ago) by establishing a legal non-profit association organisation. Thus they can ask for donations (both private and public.

@aral Doesn't "web browser that mustbe included in all operating systems" mean that making a GNU/Linux distribution that have other web browser preinstalled or no browser will be illegal? Even on command-line only systems running on servers or embedded devices? And mobile phones? Doesn't it break down sense of free software, take away freedom of choice and make a new, law-enforced web browser monopoly?

@anedroid It can very easily be worded so that it applies only to commercial operating systems to ENSURE that a free and open browser that protects freedom is included by default.

@aral What about generalizing enforcement to any free (libre) web browser, that is a web browser which respect user's freedom and privacy, and your browser would be just a recommendation, kind of standard to give an example for other competetive browsers how they should work and display web pages? I propose a statement that each web browser used in EU schools and government must meet the following conditions:

1. fit the FSF's definition of free software (best if licenced under copyleft license such as GPL3+)
2. does not contain neither binary blobs (eg. DRM) nor software designed to download them
3. does not recommend installing non-free addons or other non-free software
4. by default does not put restrictions on viewing pages, downloading files and installing addons
5. does not depends on centralized services (like Firefox sync)
6. use open web standards

What do think about it?

@anedroid @aral The browser created with all the above condition can be still full of tracking code and so on ... So the free and open software is not the only condition that we should expect.

@miklo @aral If you consider telemetry as not a dependence of centralized services:

7. does not collect usage data, statistics, nor send them to any servers. Anonymous usage statistics can be implemented for a development purposes as a completely separate addon licensed under free software license, that is not included or suggested to install in the official builds.

My intention is to web browser not send any data to its developers or 3rd parties, unless the user want to help improve that browser and install the extension that will send usage data. I've written "not suggested to install" because I don't want the browser ask the user to install that extension, like Reddit does with their mobile app. Ideally, if browser itself does not send any requests until you open a web page or start typing search terms if autocomplete is enabled.

If you're going to do this, may I suggest that a pre-Rust Classic Firefox codebase that supports XUL be considered? My feeling is, if it isn't XUL Firefox, what's the advantage over Chrome?

@aral E.g. start a project w/ a name, the Commons Browser Program?


Why should the EU support the creation of another browser, funded by taxpayer money? It is a lot cheaper to regulate existing browsers. The "digital identity framework" is a current example:

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