How We Worked on Eliminating Bias in Our Hiring Process: A Small Organization's Story

We recently hired our newest employee at Conservancy, a Technical Bookkeeper. Adding one more employee to our small staff is a significant change for our organization and we wanted to conduct both an efficient and as unbiased as possible hiring process. This can be a challenge for small organizations and there must be agreement around this goal as well as a willingness to stick to a slightly more formal process. Everyone here at Conservancy was committed to crafting a process designed to remove as much bias as possible from the equation, so here's what we did.

Double the movement: Inspire someone to explore free software

double the movement

Thank you for being part of our exceptionally generous community. Your interest in our mission is what got us where we are, in position to succeed if we keep at it. While it's incredible to have hundreds of thousands of subscribers around the world, we need to connect with millions if we're to realize a world free of proprietary software. This spring, we have set ourselves goals to reach 200 new members and 400 donations before July 15th, and to achieve them, we need your help. Please take this moment to publicly share your passion for free software. If each free software supporter inspires just one other, we can double our strength.

We tasked free software designer Raghavendra Kamath with creating some inspiring visual images to help us spread our message further. You can find these banners and profile images, including their embed codes, here. Sharing these images online might inspire someone to explore free software, and may give reasons for you to educate your friends and family about why free software matters. Use the hashtag #ISupportFreeSoftware when you share the images online or on your social media.

Here are some more ways to help grow our movement:

  • If you can spare a monthly $10 ($5 for students), your contribution in the form of an Associate Membership is the strongest vote of confidence you can give us. For less than a subscription to a Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)-controlled streaming service, your membership will serve as a testament that our work is used, read, and making its way through the world. In appreciation, we offer Associate Members many benefits.

  • Inspire someone you know to become an Associate Member, or gift a membership to a friend following the instructions in this link.

  • Donate any amount suitable to your household, and have a look at other ways to donate to see if there is a simple action you can take to give your support to the FSF.

  • Start a conversation about free software and why you support the FSF with someone you know.

  • Share your victories and experiences with free software online or in person with your community. Please use the images provided and the hashtag #ISupportFreeSoftware to help stimulate other people to do the same.

Your generosity and outspokenness fuel our message and allow us to continue to advocate on your behalf. Our fourteen hardworking staff use your contributions wisely, earning yet another best possible rating of four stars from Charity Navigator this last year. You can read our financial statements and our annual reports online.

Individual financial contributions and spreading the word like this are forms of activism we need much more of if we're to overcome trillions of proprietary software dollars. We need to grow and diversify if we're to make respect for user freedom the default, rather than a constantly endangered niche. We've shown that with your support we can succeed together against far greater resources -- thank you for sticking with us and giving everything you can to bring about a brighter future.

Read more about our online appeal!

Event - GNU Hackers Meeting (Madrid, Spain)

Twelve years after it's first edition in Orense, the GNU Hackers Meeting (2019-09-04–06) will help in Spain again. This is an opportunity to meet, hack, and learn with other free software enthusiasts.

See event page for registration, call-for-talks, accommodations, transportation, and other information.

Location: ETSISI (Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería de Sistemas Informáticos), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Calle Alan Turing s/n (Carretera de Valencia Km 7), 28031 Madrid, España

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Madrid.

Richard Stallman in Frankurt, Germany

Digital technology has enabled governments to impose surveillance that Stalin could only dream of, making it next to impossible to talk with a reporter (or do most things) unmonitored. This puts democracy and human rights danger, as illustrated by the totalitarian regime of China today.

Stallman will present the absolute upper limit on surveillance of the public compatible with democracy, and present ways to design systems that don't collect dossiers on people, except those designated by courts based on valid specific suspicion of crime.

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: Festsaal, Casino (#7), Campus Westend, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Grüneburgplatz 1, 60323 Frankfurt

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Frankfurt.

A roundup of recent updates to our licensing materials - November 2018 to June 2019

We recently added two new licenses to our list of Various Licenses and Comments about Them and we updated our comments on Creative Commons 0 (CC0). We cleaned up the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Licensing & Compliance Team page and refreshed the materials on it. What follows is a brief rundown on those changes, and how you can learn more about free software licensing.

Personal Public License Version 3a (PPL)

The PPL is a nonfree license based on the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPL). The PPL takes the language of the GPL, but redefines who is a licensee to exclude "Organizations." That means that non profits, governments, and other organizations are not able to enjoy the four freedoms in any software licensed under the PPL.

Free software does not discriminate based on who the user is, or how the user intends to use the software. The PPL falls into the same trap of those who would restrict military or "commercial" use of software. Such restrictions are antithetical to software freedom, so any license with such a term is necessarily a proprietary software license.

Anti-996 License

We added the Anti-996 License to the nonfree list. The "996" in the name refers to a common labor practice in China requiring workers to work from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, six days a week. The license attempts to ban use of the software by organizations or users that fail to comply with local labor laws or international labor standards. Like the PPL, this restriction on who may use the software renders the license nonfree. Free software never limits the freedom to run the program.

CC0

CC0 is a public domain dedication. If for any reason such dedication is not possible, it has a fallback license meant to ensure virtually the same conditions. But CC0 explicitly does not grant a patent license, making it problematic for use on software. Our entry previously didn't cover this last aspect of the license. We've updated our comments to explain how the patent situation with CC0 works, and to warn users about the issues involved in using software available under the license.

Licensing team updates

As part of our spring cleaning, we made some updates to the overview of our available licensing materials. We welcomed some new team members over the past year, and finally have them included on the FSF Compliance Lab Team page. We made a number of other minor updates, as we're always looking to improve the resources we offer. But if we missed something, or if you would like to see more resources added, let us know by sending us an email at licensing@fsf.org. Here's what else you can do to help:

Thank you to all the FSF associate members and donors who make this important work possible.

GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 18 new GNU releases in May!

For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list: https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/info-gnu.

To download: nearly all GNU software is available from https://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/, or preferably one of its mirrors from https://www.gnu.org/prep/ftp.html. You can use the URL https://ftpmirror.gnu.org/ to be automatically redirected to a (hopefully) nearby and up-to-date mirror.

This month, we welcome Wolf as co-maintainer of gengetopt.

A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, are looking for maintainers and other assistance: please see https://www.gnu.org/server/takeaction.html#unmaint if you'd like to help. The general page on how to help GNU is at https://www.gnu.org/help/help.html.

If you have a working or partly working program that you'd like to offer to the GNU project as a GNU package, see https://www.gnu.org/help/evaluation.html.

As always, please feel free to write to us at maintainers@gnu.org with any GNUish questions or suggestions for future installments.

Conservancy News Round-up

May is for code releases! Check out these videos, blog posts from member projects, code releases and upcoming events.

Chasing Quick Fixes To Sustainability

Today, another for-profit company, GitHub, announced their sponsors program. We're glad that GitHub is taking seriously the issue of assuring that those doing the work in FOSS are financially supported. We hope that GitHub will ultimately facilitate charities as payees, so that Conservancy membership projects can benefit. We realize the program is in beta, but over all we are concerned that the fundamental approach of this new program fails to address any of the major issues that charities, in our study of this problem for many years, continue to identify in FOSS sustainability.

Three conclusions to draw from Google denying Huawei access to software

Three conclusions to draw from Google denying Huawei access to software

Google denies the Chinese IT giant Huawei access to Google's proprietary components of the Android mobile operating system which threatens IT security. This highlights the importance Free Software has for technology users, public bodies, and businesses. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) presents three essential lessons from this case.

Following the U.S. administration's decision to effectively ban American companies from trading with with the Chinese company Huawei, Google suspended all business with the company. This affects all software which is not covered under Free Software licences. In practice, Huawei's upcoming and potentially also current phones will no longer get support and updates for the Android operating system. They will also not have access to the proprietary Google apps and services like Gmail and Google Play. Although proprietary software should be avoided in the first place, especially the latter will put future Huawei user at risk because without access to the default app store on most stock Android phones they will miss important security updates for the apps installed through it.

Google offers only a base version of Android under a Free Software licence but bundles it together with proprietary apps and services. The non-free components of most stock Android devices have numerous downsides for users, as the FSFE has documented since 2012. Now, the current case demonstrates that even tech giants like Huawei face similar dependencies and vendor lock-in effects as those of any individual users if they rely on proprietary software.

Three Conclusions

The following lessons can be drawn from this case:

The FSFE urges users to use Free Software operating systems and applications on their computing devices. With proprietary software, they are on the receiving end only and vendors may deny them access to crucial security updates if the vendor or a government changes its strategy. Free Software enables control of technology, and the more important that technology becomes in our daily lives, the more relevant Free Software becomes for users. For Android, the FSFE helps users to regain more control with its Free Your Android initiative. Governments and especially the European Union should invest more resources in Free Software to gain independence from large enterprises and other states. The current case highlights the lack of influence the EU has on outside technology providers. Instead of waiting for a future European IT monopolist to enter the stage, the EU and its members states should invest in Free Software development and focus on supporting local Free Software organisations as well as businesses. This would effectively foster the inner-European market and enable independence for European citizens and the EU economy. This step is essential for avoiding exposing European infrastructure to shutdowns controlled by external factors. The FSFE urges companies to use as much Free Software as possible in their supply chains. Proprietary software makes a company dependent on its vendor and that vendor's government. The current case shows that the US was able to force Google to stop delivery of its proprietary products – but could not stop delivery of the Free Software components of Android. Had Huawei invested more resources in Free Software apps and services, the US strategy would not have hit them as hard. Although the current events are linked to the scrutiny the Chinese company is under right now, it is obvious that this could happen to any other company based in any other country as well.

The earlier allegations against Huawei already showed that code for all critical infrastructure should be published under a Free Software licence. The latest episode of the Huawei affair illustrates that the same applies to apps and services. Just days before the European Elections, this should be a wake-up call for the next constituent Parliament to ask the European Commission for European directives that foster independence of European technical infrastructure and that build on Free Software, starting with the demand to release publicly funded software as public code.

Support FSFE

Six more devices from ThinkPenguin, Inc. now FSF-certified to Respect Your Freedom

This is ThinkPenguin's second batch of devices to receive RYF certification this spring. The FSF announced certification of seven other devices from ThinkPenguin on March 21st. This latest collection of devices makes ThinkPenguin the retailer with the largest catalog of RYF-certified devices.

"It's unfortunate that so many of even the simplest devices out there have surprise proprietary software requirements. RYF is an antidote for that. It connects ethical shoppers concerned about their freedom with companies offering options respecting that freedom," said the FSF's executive director, John Sullivan.

Today's certifications expands the availability of RYF-certified peripheral devices. The Penguin USB 2.0 External USB Stereo Sound Adapter and the 5.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Express Audio Sound Card help users get the most of their computers in terms of sound quality. For wireless connectivity, ThinkPenguin offers the Wireless N PCI Express Dual-Band Mini Half-Height Card and Penguin Wireless N Mini PCIe Card. For users with an older printer, the USB to Parallel Printer Cable can let them continue to use it with their more current hardware. Finally, the PCIe eSATA / SATA 6Gbps Controller Card help users to connect to external eSATA devices as well as internal SATA.

"I've spent the last 14 years working on projects aimed at making free software adoption easy for everyone, but the single greatest obstacle over the past 20 years has not been software. It's been hardware. The RYF program helps solve this problem by linking users to trustworthy sources where they can get hardware guaranteed to work on GNU/Linux, and be properly supported using free software," said Christopher Waid, founder and CEO of ThinkPenguin.

While ThinkPenguin has consistently sought certification since the inception of the RYF program -- gaining their first certification in 2013, and adding several more over the years since -- the pace at which they are gaining certifications now eclipses all past efforts.

"ThinkPenguin continues to impress with the rapid expansion of their catalog of RYF-certified devices. Adding 14 new devices in a little over a month shows their dedication to the RYF certification program and the protection of users it represents," said the FSF's licensing and compliance manager, Donald Robertson, III.

To learn more about the Respects Your Freedom certification program, including details on the certification of these ThinkPenguin devices, please visit https://fsf.org/ryf.

Retailers interested in applying for certification can consult https://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/criteria.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at https://fsf.org and https://gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

About ThinkPenguin, Inc.

Started by Christopher Waid, founder and CEO, ThinkPenguin, Inc., is a consumer-driven company with a mission to bring free software to the masses. At the core of the company is a catalog of computers and accessories with broad support for GNU/Linux. The company provides technical support for end-users and works with the community, distributions, and upstream projects to make GNU/Linux all that it can be.

Media Contacts

Donald Robertson, III
Licensing and Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
licensing@fsf.org

ThinkPenguin, Inc.
+1 (888) 39 THINK (84465) x703
media@thinkpenguin.com