German digital civil society organisations have made four demands for a digitally sovereign society to politicians standing in the 2021 federal election in late September 2021. Among them is the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), which works to ensure that software developed with public money shall be published under a free and open source software licence.
On 1st April 2020, German civil society organisations working for an independent digital infrastructure and free access to knowledge called on politicians to learn from the crisis and strengthen digital civil society.
In an open letter (German) of that date, the signatories (Chaos Computer Club, D64 – Zentrum für Digitalen Fortschritt, Epicenter.Works, the FSFE, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, Superrr Lab and Wikimedia Deutschland) also made clear recommendations for action. However, far too little has happened since then. The past year has made it clear that politics and the public sector are overwhelmed with their own digital transformation and are setting priorities in digital policy that do not meet the needs of society. We are far from a digitally sovereign society.That is why a broad spectrum of organisations, including the FSFE has once again come together to support politics with their expertise.
With four demands, the network shows how digitisation can succeed for a digitally sovereign society – and calls upon the parties to make digitisation for the common good a central topic in the forthcoming federal elections.
Four demands for the federal government
- Digital Sovereignty: politicians must anchor the digital sovereignty of society as the highest maxim in digital policy. Instead of a digital ministry, we need a mission for the coming legislative period that elevates digital sovereignty to a guiding principle and is drafted and evaluated together with representatives from civil society, science and business.
- Participation and Transparency: civil society must finally be afforded the same opportunities as business and science to contribute its expertise via a civil society quota in political advisory bodies, communication and transparency on procedures of political decision-making processes, legally defined deadlines for consultations and machine-readable documentation.
- Public Money, Public Good: publicly funded solutions must be accessible to all under a free licence so that no knowledge is lost or problems are solved twice. It should be a legal requirement that software developed for the public sector with public money must be published under a free and open source software licence. If public money is involved, the code should also be public. In addition, public sector data must be open data.
- Sustainable Digitisation: digitisation can only succeed if the development of digital infrastructure is economically and socially viable. To this end, diversity in digitisation and the development and maintenance of secure, decentralised digital infrastructure for society must be promoted in the long term.
5th May launch event
A new organisation and website – https://digitalezivilgesellschaft.org/ – has been established to promote the above demands and a launch event will be held on 5th May 2021 from 18:00 to 19:30 hrs to discuss these demands with a panel consisting of Julia Reda (former MEP), Henning Tillmann (software developer and co-chair of D64) and Julia Kloiber (co-founder Superrr Lab). The panel will be moderated by Katja Jäger (betterplace lab). Afterwards, all participants will have the opportunity to exchange ideas on solutions, measures and calls for action in four thematic rooms. FSFE’s Alexander Sander will moderate the room on “Public Money? Public Code!”.
Today’s Daily Mail front page is in full censorious mode following the announcement yesterday morning of a snap election by the UK’s not at all unelected Prime Minister.
As can be seen, those who voted remain in last year’s EU referendum have now been reclassified by the Mail. We’re no longer Remoaners, but Saboteurs.
Indeed the Mail headline has been greatly exercising the Twittersphere this morning, with its wording being compared with both extreme wings of politics (the phrase “Crush the Saboteurs” was first used by Lenin in January 1919. Ed.), with several reminders of the Mail’s infamous Hurrah for the Blackshirts headline from January 1934.
Since this morning Mrs May has defended the Mail’s intemperate stance and headline, pleading “freedom of the press”. Some would argue freedom comes with a sense of responsibility attached, Mrs May.
As someone who voted remain in the referendum and still regards the course towards a so-called hard Brexit favoured by the Prime Minister and entailing leaving the Single Market, the course of action she is advocating looks to me like the ultimate sabotage.
As a person whose life is built around words, the definition and etymology of the word sabotage interests me.
According to Dictionary.com, sabotage has the following meanings as a noun:
- any underhand interference with production, work, etc., in a plant, factory, etc., as by enemy agents during wartime or by employees during a trade dispute; and
- any undermining of a cause
Sabotage can also be used as a verb, meaning to injure or attack by sabotage.
As regards the origins of sabotage, it came into use in English in the late 19th/early 20th century, emanating from the French, equivalent to sabot(er) to botch, orig., to strike, shake up, harry, derivative of sabot, which dates back to the 13th century and denotes a clog or wooden shoe. Sabot originates from an unidentified source that also produced similar words in Old Provençal, Portuguese, Spanish (zapata), Italian (ciabatta), Arabic (sabbat) and Basque (zapata).
As regards sabotage in the context of the UK’s relationship with the European Union/EEC, it must be remembered that the Europhobes (later called Eurosceptics. Ed.) were moaning even before the ink was dry on the signatures of Edward Heath, Alec Douglas-Home and Geoffrey Rippon on the 1972 Treaty of Accession.
The Europhobes have consistently sabotaged Britain’s relationship with Europe ever since and, as someone who is diametrically opposed to their plans, I am therefore proud to declare: “Je suis saboteur!”
On Twitter, the ITI has kindly pointed out a terminological error in last week’s Guardian. I appeared in the text of the article shown below, taken on the occasion of the UK’s not at all unelected prime minister Theresa May’s visit to those nice people in Saudi Arabia who are kind enough to buy lots of weapons off the British for use in Yemen.
The person identified as Person 2 is described as “the most important person in the room, the translator”.
I’m afraid you are wrong there, Grauniad. He may be the most important person in the room, but alas he is no translator.
The error of the Grauniad’s ways was helpfully pointed out in a letter on Tuesday by fellow linguist Jane Straker and her letter is reproduced in full below.
The big picture (5 April) was good and the numbered captions helpful. It was a boost for our profession to have the man below the late King Abdullah’s portrait described as “perhaps the most important person in the room”. However, translators are not normally people who listen and speak (sometimes simultaneously) in meetings: that is the job of interpreters. Some translators are trained to interpret, but they usually excel at writing, keyboard skills and carefully honing text. Speech is not writing; transfer of meaning between languages and cultures requires not only accuracy, speed and clarity, but impartiality. Interpreters should have no vested interest in the outcome of a meeting. It would be useful to know whether Theresa May had a British Arabic-English interpreter in her delegation.
To avoid future blunders and save interpreters from putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – passing Grauniad (& other) journalists are advised to consult my handy illustrated guide to translators and interpreters.
Some linguists have remarked that the two sides of the profession should stop being so pedantic about terminology. However, I believe terminological exactitude is a crucial skill for both translators and interpreters. Give your thoughts in the comments below.
Kolab Systems, creators of Kolab, the leading open source groupware and collaboration framework, today announced a partnership with Collabora Productivity, the architects behind LibreOffice Online, the cloud-based office productivity suite.
The first version of Kolab with integrated CloudSuite functionality is due to appear around the middle of 2016.
Collabora’s CloudSuite web-based document product will be available as an integrated component in Kolab. The integration of CloudSuite into Kolab will allow users to work on documents simultaneously using a fully-featured online office suite from within the Kolab collaboration suite. Users will be able to create text documents, fill in spreadsheets and design presentations together, even when they are in different locations. Documents can later be saved in popular formats, including Open Document Format (ODF) and MS-compatible formats. The CloudSuite offering also comes with Collabora Office, a professional LibreOffice distribution, for offline use on the desktop.
CloudSuite complements Kolab’s integrated editor, which is also gaining collaborative editing capabilities. Users will be able to collaborate in real-time composing emails, setting agendas for meetings or adding contacts to distribution lists before sharing their work with colleagues and clients.
“For too long, closed and insecure solutions have been the industry standard for office and groupware productivity,” said Kolab System’s CEO, Georg Greve. “With this partnership Collabora and Kolab are taking the lead, not only with bleeding edge technological innovation and an office stack with full, user-friendly and comprehensive collaborative features, but also with a product that respects users’ freedoms, protects their privacy, and guarantees their work will not be locked away in proprietary formats.”
“Collabora Productivity is delighted to provide a key building block in Kolab’s comprehensive, new offering,” said Michael Meeks, General Manager at Collabora Productivity. “Kolab Systems have been a leading light in open source for many years and we look forward to supporting their ambitious growth plans in the enterprise sector and beyond.”