The Proprietarization of Android – Google Play Services and Apps

Android has a market share of ~70% for mobile devices which keeps growing. It is based on Linux and the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), so mostly Free Software. The problem is that every device you can buy is additionally stuffed full with proprietary software. These programs and apps are missing the essential four freedoms that all software should have. They serve all but your interests and are typically designed to spy on your every tap. For this reason, the Free Software Foundation Europe started the Free Your Android campaign in 2012 that shows people how they can install F-Droid … Continue reading

Is Signal a threat to Free Software?

Someone made a lot of noise regarding the LibreSignal shutdown, called it a “new threat to Free Software” and compared it with Tivoization. I was then asked to explain the situation in a discussion with RMS where I gave my own perspective on it. Since I already took the time to write it down, I might as well share it here for others to see: Signal is a very popular communication system that consists of a server component and two clients. Both clients are Free Software although the Android clients uses a proprietary Google library. The server is Free Software … Continue reading

Briar – Next Step of The Crypto Messenger Evolution

Update: Há uma versão em português. Who still remembers ICQ, AIM and MSN? My first messenger was ICQ and I liked the fact that it was instant. In those days, I didn’t think much about security and was probably too young anyway. We can count ourselves lucky if those tools even used transport encryption. This means that our messages are encrypted on the way from our computer to the server, so nobody can see the content of the messages while they are in transit. Whoever has access to the server however can know the content since all messages get decrypted … Continue reading

WhatsApp Adopts Secure End-to-End Encryption. But will it federate?

WhatsApp has announced that it is currently switching all its users to secure end-to-end encryption. It is now using a state-of-the-art protocol that was developed for the Free Software app TextSecure. This cryptographic protocol fulfills most desired security properties and is simple to use at the same time. The encryption happens without the users even noticing it. Thanks to Edward Snowden, the world’s population now knows about the reality of ubiquitous surveillance and is asking for private communications. It is a good sign that companies who previously have assisted surveillance are now helping to fight it. WhatsApp has understood that … Continue reading

What to use instead of WhatsApp and Threema?

WhatsApp is a messaging app for smartphones that allows you to send (text) messages free-of-charge. After WhatsApp’s recent acquisition by Facebook and in the face of the NSA revelations, many of the millions of WhatsApp users are looking for secure and trustworthy alternatives. Because this effects so many people, we at the Free Software Foundation Europe would like to be able to promote an alternative that respects your freedom and privacy. Therefore we decided to do some research and to hold a workshop on WhatsApp alternatives during our latest FSFE team meeting. While most tech-people really didn’t see the point … Continue reading

Liberte seu Android at FISL15

I had been invited to present FSFE’s “Free Your Android” campaign at FISL, the biggest Free Software conference in Latin America. The talk was full and well received. Most people didn’t know about the campaign and the options they have to make their phone more free. For the occasion I updated my presentation with the latest developments in the area. If you are interested, a recording is available online. The presentation was also featured on the conference homepage, in a technology magazine, a political website and some other places. The size of the conference, the corporate/governmental involvement and the percentage … Continue reading

A New Theme for KMail: Modern Headers

I’m using KMail to handle my emails every day. It is a very powerful program and heavily customizable. Thanks to Baloo, I finally see the pictures of my contacts in their emails. I just didn’t like the way the pictures were shown in the email header. In case you did not know, KMail supports many different ways of presenting the header of emails. Laurent Montel implemented not only theme support, but also built an editor that you can use to make your own themes. So I took his editor, started playing with the example theme and then ended up writing … Continue reading

Transitioning to a new more secure GnuPG key

I am transitioning GnuPG keys from an old 1024-bit key to a new 4096-bit key, because 1024 bit are uncomfortably close to what can be cracked. The old key will continue to be valid for some time, but I prefer all new correspondence to be encrypted in the new key, and will be making all signatures going forward with the new key. If you have signed my old key, I would appreciate signatures on my new key as well, provided that your signing policy permits that without re-authenticating me. The old key, which I am transitional away from, is: pub … Continue reading

Dark Mail as Next-Generation Email to Stop Spying

The people from Lavabit and SilentCircle announced their Dark Mail Alliance which is going to develop a new end-to-end encrypted protocol to better secure email. Since, the media reports about this were scarce on details, I watched the recording of their presentation and will summarize what is interesting to me below,  in case it might also be interesting to you. They call their new Dark Mail system peer to peer. The end-to-end encryption should be integrated into the protocol and keys should be generated on the users device without any interaction by the users so it will be as easy … Continue reading

First F-Droid Workshop to Happen Soon in Berlin

If you always wanted to learn how to include new apps into the F-Droid Free Software app repository for Android, then the first F-Droid Workshop is for you. There the F-Droid developers themselves will show you how to do it. When? Saturday the 3rd of August, 2PM – 5PM Where? IN-Berlin (OSM) Who? Daniel Martí and Torsten Grote (F-Droid developer) F-Droid is a project that aims to provide Free Software applications for Android via a repository system, much like most of the GNU/Linux distributions distribute packages. This differs very much from the Google Play approach since the client and server … Continue reading