Group: Freedom Ladder/Understanding encryption meeting

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In the interest of privacy, only FSF staff members are identified in the meeting minutes (by their initials). All lines that do not begin with initials are suggestions or comments made in the course of the meeting by members of the community.

Some messages have been combined with others and/or rephrased for readability, or in cases where a single speaker’s point spanned several separate IRC messages.

If you recognize a point of yours and think we’ve phrased it a way that misunderstood your point, please feel free to edit and correct it. After all, there is a wiki!


Understanding encryption

  • GF: The campaigns team’s original idea was to add encryption as a step and tie it into our recent updates to the ESD; we felt user privacy was also important to address somewhere on the ladder.
  • GF: We want to normalize encryption – even to those who make the “nothing to hide” argument.
  • GF: The “nothing to hide” mentality does pose a problem for nontechnical users taking this step seriously.
  • GF: Another possibility we came up with for this step is introducing a “bad” kind of encryption as a tie-in to the Defective by Design campaign – DRM.
  • The problem is the big tech data collection, because they can link the information and sell your personal data.
  • “Understanding encryption” is a good practical step and has a practical tie-in: the ESD.
  • There’s plenty of legitimate reasons to secure something; these days a lot of people that you talk to will already be using encrypted systems (without realizing it).
  • GF: Encrypting doesn’t get rid of any inherent freedom problems with nonfree platforms, but does help your privacy.
  • Tor should also be promoted.

Mobile phone freedom

  • Alexandre Oliva’s 0G project would be something good to introduce in this step.
  • Mobile baseband issues should be explained succinctly.
  • As long as you carry nonfree software in your pocket or purse, you must assume you’re under surveillance, and you probably are.
  • In the spirit of the ladder, we can make incremental recommendations for both freedom and privacy.
  • We can put a focus on multi-platform tools, which will ultimately make a switch to GNU/Linux easier.
  • Recommending Signal has problems: centralized and requires a phone number.
  • (Suggestion for IRC and/or XMPP to be mentioned in conjunction with recommending a messaging app like Signal over iMessage.)
  • GF: Signal might not be ideal, but as the ladder is targeted toward nontechnical users, we might still want to recommend it above XMPP (due to difficulty of configuring and userbase). (We’re aware that XMPP is a protocol; we’re treating it this way for the sake of brevity.)
  • GF: It at least has some potential freedom problems (which need to be verified), but can be built and used without the Google Play services.
  • GF: Something we also planned for this step was to give a brief overview of the non-Google Android ROMs, as well as projects to run GNU/Linux in various ways on mobile phone hardware. No recommendations (other than Replicant), but definitely an overview.
  • GF: In the spirit of the ladder, we may be able to recommend some apps for iOS that would ease a transition to freer systems later on. The existence of the App Store EULA makes these nominally nonfree, but we should still mention these.
  • GF: We know that F-Droid isn’t perfect but its problems are more easily addressed through configuring alternate repositories rather than a totally new app / solution.
  • We shouldn’t present jailbreaking etc. as a solution.