Roman Canaries

Still as relevant today as when I wrote it over a decade ago.

The Blog Formerly Known As SunMink

DFIR Meeting

Today I had the privilege of speaking to a large and distinguished international audience in Rome, DFIR, considering the creation of a “Bill of Rights” for the Internet as a part of the ongoing IGF process. Many presenters spoke about privacy, about access to knowledge, about the need to build on the well-established corpus of wisdom in existing statements on human rights. Listening through the morning, it became apparent that most people were taking for granted the technical basis on which the Internet was created.

Thus in my speech I decided to take the opposite approach, taking as given the obvious need to establish human rights of privacy, access, free speech and non-discrimination and look at the technical foundations. The Internet exists because of three realities – informally constituted but still consistently real. We have to remember the heritage of the net if we are to protect higher-order rights…

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FLOSS Weekly 531: Bareos

Bareos is not pronounced the same way as bareness and despite sounding like it is nothing to do with a guy called Barry. It’s a comprehensive and mature backup system forked from the Bacula project when it headed proprietary a few years back. Simon joined Randall Schwartz to interview one of its founders and find out where it was headed and just what sort of open source project it is.

 

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OSI Board Evolution

I spent last week in New York at the annual new-inductees face-to-face Board meeting of the Open Source Initiative Board (pictured below – Christine Hall is also a member but was unable to join us).  Having spent the last 11 years working on refactoring OSI for a new generation, I had advised the Board in advance that I intended to step down as President to make way for fresh blood. The Board elected Molly de Blanc as the new President and Josh Simmons as Vice President, with Hong Phuc Dang bravely volunteering to be CFO. I agreed to serve as Board Secretary until someone else feels ready to play that role – no later than next April when my term ends.

OSI Board 2019.jpg

OSI Board 2019-20.  Standing: Simon Phipps, Elana Hashman, Pamela Chestek, Molly de Blanc, Faidon Liambotis, Chris Lamb, Hong Phuc Dang, Patrick Masson. Kneeling: Carol Smith, Josh Simmons.

The OSI I’m handing over to the new Board is very different to the one I first attended in 2008 (as an observer – I wasn’t invited to join until 2010). It is now elected rather than selected (albeit via an indirect mechanism to make California regulation easier to manage). The electors are over 60 affiliate organisations representing the majority of the world’s core open source developers and an ever growing community of individual members. OSI now has a viable income arising largely from a diverse range of around 30 sponsors. It now has a staff, including a full-time General Manager (Patrick Masson, far right). It now has maintained systems for managing donations, lists and outreach. And there’s more been achieved – those are just stand-outs.

All together that means OSI has a proven foundation for the new Board to build upon. Already built on that foundation there are a postgraduate curriculum, a programme to advocate open source in the world of standards, a programme to equip schools with recycled PCs, working relationships with peer organisations like FSF and FSFE and more. There are many people responsible for all this change, too many to name here, and I thank them all.

People always look forward rather than back and there are still plenty of issues to deal with which are the new Board’s focus. We are already working to improve the license review process, for example.  But I’m really pleased with what we have all achieved over the last decade at OSI and am thrilled that there’s an energetic, more diverse and younger crew taking over.

Consul Democracy Foundation

The west is in a state of crisis due to the capture of the mechanisms of democracy by special interests. It’s time for change, and that change may well involve a shift from consultative or representative democracy to participatory democracy of some form. To support participatory democracy it’s essential to have enabling software that’s accessible to all citizens and transparent in its operation. I find it hard to imagine achieving that without open source.

Fortunately there is an excellent open source, free software project to support participatory democracy – the Consul Project. It provides tools for every function that a local participatory democracy initiative might need, including collaboratively devising legislation. The project is widely used around the world and is currently hosted by Madrid City Council.

Last week in Amsterdam, a broad range of democracy and rights organisations from around the world formed the Consul Democracy Foundation to act as the new home for the Consul Project. I was honoured to participate in founding the organisation as a representative of OSI. Consul is “the most complete citizen participation tool for an open, transparent and democratic government” and is open source, free software under the AGPL.

Screenshot 2019-03-26 at 14.50.49

 

FLOSS Weekly 523: FluidKeys

Simon visited the studio this week to co-host FLOSS Weekly 523 which interviewed the developers behind the new FluidKeys project that simplifies team key sharing so secrets can be passed encrypted and e-mails can be easily managed. It uses OpenPGP so potentially enhances any OpenPGP tool. It was open core when we started the show but by the end they were convinced it should actually all be open source under AGPL!