LibrePlanet is an annual conference hosted by the Free Software Foundation for free software enthusiasts and anyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. LibrePlanet brings together software developers, law and policy experts, activists, students, and computer users to learn skills, celebrate free software accomplishments, and face challenges to software freedom. Newcomers are always welcome, and LibrePlanet 2020 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels. The theme for LibrePlanet 2020 is "Free the Future".
Many picture the future of software bringing about a dystopian world because of the daily encroachments on user rights. Even in our own homes, we are not shielded from technology companies listening to every word we say through their proprietary "smart" personal assistants. The thirst for user data gleaned through nonfree software and unethical network services like Amazon and Facebook seems to be unquenchable, and they require strong resistance.
Surveillance developments are becoming more and more unsettling because of the use of facial recognition by state and county agencies. The FBI is planning to actively monitor our social media activity in the name of "safety." Can free software help defend our rights?
Education also needs our attention. The recent introduction of Pearson's "Netflix of textbooks" model inhibits students' rights to education by digitally constraining their learning environment. With our 2019 International Day Against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), we are exposing our rapidly diminishing authority over our technology, as exemplified by Pearson. Steps like these set a dangerous precedent for all readers, no matter their age or location.
These are just some of the many examples that come to mind when contemplating the direction technology is taking us. For each new convenience that we gain, it seems we lose even more in the process, exchanging intangible but vital rights to freedom and privacy for the latest new gadget. But there is resistance, and it doesn't have to be this way. The free software community has continuously defied the pressure to use nonfree software and provided a means of escape. We are in the unique position to offer solutions to these problems by combining our technical abilities and educational skills with our ethical dedication to envision a future free from the clutches of nonfree software and network services that mistreat their users. In short, 2020 will be the year we "Free the Future."