Report of the Study Session “Open Source – Open Mind”


[the following report can also be downloaded as a Pdf]


1. Introduction

2. Digitisation

3. Digital Activism

4. Digitisation and Human Rights

5. How the Internet functions

6. Open Source and Us

7. Free and Open Source Software

8. Cryptoparty

9. Open Source Tools for Activists and Organisations

10. Tools for Advocacy and Campaigning

11. Open Sessions

12. Transfer of knowledge in organisations

13. Film Session

14. Organisations


1. Introduction

The study session “Open Source – Open Mind” took place from 16 to 23 March 2014 in Strasbourg, France. It was a joint effort between the Cooperation and Development Network Eastern Europe (CDN) and the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) in co-operation with the European Youth Centre Strasbourg of the Council of Europe. It was a result of the interest expressed by CDN’s and FYEG’s Member Organisations to explore and promote open source technologies.

In particular, we aimed at studying what open source philosophy is and how it can be applied in the spheres of social and digital rights’ advocacy, social inclusion and non-formal education in youth organisations. We believe that such a project would considerably benefit our Members, for whom technical literacy and creative approaches to digital activism are vital in their everyday work and long-term development. This also applies to CDN and FYEG as umbrella organisations. We intended to organise this event together due to our complementary experiences and capacities. FYEG had an active working group on Digital Rights, that monitored developments and campaigns for civil rights in the digital sphere. CDN contributed with its solid experience in non-formal education, in particular human rights education. CDN also brought in the expertise that its working group “Open Source Initiative” has in the sphere of open source software. This study session therefore allowed both organisations to take a leap forward and expand their areas of expertise in order to better meet the needs of their Members. Moreover, we were also keen on creating something useful for other youth organisations, sharing our results and creating new partnership to continue working on this topic.

The primary goals of this study session were: first, to develop and disseminate educational resources and support measures for human rights education and education for democratic citizenship with children and young; second, to promote the access of young people to social rights and combating social exclusion, youth discrimination and xenophobia.

When organising this session we had the following aims and objectives:

  • To raise the quality of youth participation trough promoting Internet as a tool for fostering democracy and active citizenship;
  • To promote free and open source software (FOSS) as a method and tool to advance young citizens’ inclusion in democratic societies and support the inclusion of vulnerable groups in collaborative, transparent and result-based social processes;
  • To raise the capacities of youth organisations to develop non-formal technology education as a way to reach more young people and support their active participation.

This study session engaged 40 participants from all over Europe: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo1, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Switzerland, Romania, UK and Ukraine.

The working sessions ranged from an introduction by the Council of Europe on the European Human Rights framework to practical workshops on how to use encryption and open source software to meet organisational needs. We covered topics such as setting up encrypted email communication, installing OS software, creating a website etc. The study session combined many aspects of legal, political and technical knowledge and skills that can be used to advocate civil and human rights. We focused on digital activism and digital rights advocacy to link the various study sessions and workshops together and reflect on different aspects of the work done by the Council of Europe in this domain, especially the No Hate Speech Movement campaign. We also discussed how one can make a claim for their rights online in an efficient and respectful manner. Special attention was paid to the role of youth participation in the European Internet Governance and how young people and European Youth Organisations can engage and be active in these political processes. As a result of all this work a lot of interesting and useful information was shared and then collected in this report.


2. Digitisation

The effects of digitisation

Within the last half a century or so one fundamental change took place in our lives – we have moved from analogue to the digitized information and with that to digital age. This has an affect on pretty much every sector and aspect – social, political and economic – of our lives.

Digitisation, “strictly speaking, means simply capturing an analogue signal in digital form”[1]. It is a process of encoding information based on two states only – black and white or on and off. In other words it is using a binary system. This little variation of states protects information from deformation and change – additional noise – when it is copied and multiplied. It is the also the reason why common digitisation applies the binary code, therefore making digitized information becoming a interchangeable with digital information. This mechanism has allowed changing the way we are dealing with new and old media, the way we interact, communicate, and share; it allowed decreasing the borders, because the digital realm is made up of bits and it does not run out of supplies or have space constraints.

The recent wave of digitisation includes different factors such as: the widespread adoption of computers, the use of the Internet to conduct a large share of our communication, and the gradual transfer of many human activities (including political participation and activism, but also business, e-commerce etc.) into the digital sphere. The importance of repercussions of this development comes close to the most tumultuous technological changes in human history. One can compare it for example to the industrial revolution or maybe more aptly to the invention by Gutenberg of the printing press. Almost all sectors of human activity have been influenced by the digital revolution. This is the fundamental change that the modern technology has brought into our lives, what we can digitize, the way we digitize it and at what costs.

Nowadays everyone with access to a computer and an Internet connection can obtain vast amounts of information, connect with a broad number of people from all over the world, produce and disseminate their own information or share others’ media. Mainstream culture is synonymous to digital culture: music, photos and images, films and videos are shared and transmitted in a digital form making it a fast easily accessed and managed form of mass-communication and mass-consumption. Another example is when libraries are now digitizing books, journals and other paper media making them available to a broader public. Citizens can reach out to their governments through their websites, order and claim public services online (e-government) and in some countries online voting is already feasible. Open data becomes a source for visualizations, online tools and resources that offers new solutions and services for the citizens. Communities can be founded easily and do not depend anymore on a shared geographical location. As Negroponte predicted 20 years ago, our digital living includes “less and less dependence upon being in a specific place at a specific time, and the transmission of place itself will start to become possible” (1995, p. 164). Likewise, businesses can connect with potential customers no matter where their headquarters are located.

Speaking specifically of activism, the Internet has made it much easier to reach globally potentially interested members of the public – it is becoming much easier to spread information and campaigns over the Internet using social networks for example. Digitisation also plays an important role for activism and advocacy due to its low costs, speed of information dissemination and ubiquitous access and outreach. Local campaigns can go viral and turn global within hours these days. While in earlier times one needed a printer and paper to print flyers, and then they had to be laboriously distributed, today a computer and Internet connection are enough (or even just access to an Internet café). However, the reverse side of this development can be seen easily by means of the very same example. Due to digitisation, cheap storage of information, easy retrieval and global reach, a vast amount of digital information is being produced every day and propagated by the Internet. Because of that activists often face the problem of their message being drowned out by all that other information. While it is easy to spread one’s campaign, it can be exceedingly difficult to get people to pay attention to it and act on it. The downside effect of the ease of use of digital technology is the propagation of severe cases of cyber discrimination and deviant behaviour online, such as hate speech, online harassment, cyber bullying, trolling and sexism. Also malicious use of digital tools, like bots or botnets, by extremist groups and hackers to mobilise or organise online attacks is becoming widespread and more and more common phenomena.

This workshop centres on these developments and discusses how we can use the changes that are happening to further the common good. In the present workshop the positive aspects of digitisation as well as the dangers were discussed. A great number of individual points were gathered by different groups, which are organised and presented here in a condensed manner.

Positive aspects of digitisation

Information access

  • Facilitation of the freedom to access information
  • Access for people with disabilities
  • Open data
  • More communication tools
  • Increasing access to entertainment

Expression of ideas and collaboration

  • A space for sharing ideas
  • More communication tools
  • It is easier to organise, campaign, find interesting information and topics to work on
  • Groups can communicate in private
  • Tools for collaboration and PR
  • You can develop a shared identity and a common voice
  • You can get supportive membership
  • Easy to reach out to large numbers of people


  • New opportunities for creating communities (for example, for LGBT groups)
  • Possibilities for campaigning online and advocacy
  • It shifts distribution of power, access to computers and Internet is generally cheap
  • There can be cyber-events / online events and awareness-raising
  • You can get international support more easily
  • Facilitates activism especially in places where democracy is limited
  • Gives a chance to build truly international movements
  • Easier to organise seminars, workshops and events etc.
  • Opportunity to get fast feedback


  • Emancipation of the working class and access to more important jobs
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Crowd sourcing and crowd funding
  • It shifts distribution of power, access to computers and Internet is generally cheap
  • Opportunity for shared work
  • Telecommuting, home working (better for environment)
  • It helps people to find good deals!
  • Allows and facilitates innovation
  • It makes work of professionals more productive (usage of new advanced software)
  • Cheaper way for start-up companies


  • Allows people to create culture and subcultures (memes, cat pictures, and also much more)
  • Provides access to cultural artefacts such as music, films, photography, books, history etc.


  • New learning opportunities
  • Opportunity for self-development


  • E-democracy and e-government
  • The Internet knows no borders

Negative aspects of digitisation


  • Bad or inadequate legal regulations
  • Governmental control and limitations of information
  • Copyright seems outdated
  • Are websites controlled or taken down by the governments when they should be or sometimes also because of political reasons?


  • Internet maniacs, predators, paedophiles
  • Cyber-crime, financial viability (because of hacking)
  • (Legal but bad) online behaviour
  • Trolling and cyber-bullying of children
  • Extremism found a new home online
  • Astroturfing (Corporations hiding their campaigns behind seemingly grassroots-type organisations)

Difficulty of connecting the digital world to the offline world

  • The culture of “ask Google”, little or lack of critical thinking
  • There is a feeling of disconnection between action and its effect
  • Clicktivism and “keyboard warriors”
  • Lower impact and passivism (people say they would come when you announce an event online, but then they do not show up to your event offline)


  • Addictions and isolation
  • No offline socialisation

Type of information

  • Unreliable information
  • Inappropriate content
  • There is a tension between “echo chambers” and objective information. If many people say the same things online, it risks looking as if it was reliable information
  • The content of the Internet seems dominated by the West and rich countries
  • There is little analysis; superficial information
  • Overload of information
  • Information is spread too fast and it is difficult to check its quality and source
  • Spam


  • Uncertain business models can lead to placing content behind subscription models
  • Further commercialization
  • It could damage local economies, threaten jobs


  • Abusive use of data
  • There is a tension between sharing data and privacy protection
  • Risk of misuse of personal information


  • There is a digital divide among countries and within countries in the access to the Internet
  • Digital illiteracy is the second-level digital divide


  1. Wikipedia on digitisation (Accessed 26 December 2014 )[Online] Available at
  2. Negroponte, N., (1995). Being Digital:Vintage Books.


3. Digital Activism

The effects of digital activism

Digital Activism is the use of digital technology in campaigning for social and political change. It is based on digital network, its speed, scale and low cost are what enables the great scope and reach of contemporary activism (Joyce, 2010).

Digitisation made activism easier and enforced it with various digital tools. The scale of activism also changed in the digital age, became global and the spread is now ubiquitous. A number of online platforms and tools are available for anyone to start an online campaign, such as,, etc. However, sophisticated campaigns are mostly initiated by experienced activists and usually they are done in cooperation of activist groups and organisations to reach a stronger impact.

So the question is whether digital activism really provides a platform for the active participation for young people? Or is it just a bubble which the majority of users can follow, click, share but not being able to contribute properly? The so called clicktivism. How can youth get involved in this process? Is it a new form of political participation for young people and youth organisations and therefore what are the mechanisms of digital activism?

There are three basic perspectives on the value of digital activism today: optimists, pessimists, and “persistents”. Optimists and pessimists position is a basic positive or negative point of view on what potential digital technology has for changing the distribution of political power. The former believe digital activism is able to change current political hierarchies and empower citizens to do so. The latter are claiming that even though technology has significant potential and effects on society, it is however neutral and can be used for either constructive or destructive purposes. The third category – persistents – believe that little will change with the advent of the Internet and digital technology, that it is not exceptional and therefore nothing will change much with digital activism.

If digital activism is really a new tool for social change, we need to understand what are the fundamental forces that allow these actions to unfold? Mary Joyce, in discussing the strategic knowledge gap, claimed that the recent changes and technological developments must be grasped accordingly: “The infrastructure of activism has changed, yet our strategic knowledge has not. Because deep understanding of the potential of digital infrastructure for activism is lacking, so is sophistication and successful implementation.” (2010, p. 212)

Another aspect of contemporary activism in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations, is whether infrastructure and environment of digital network foster surveillance and hinder digital activism. “The physical infrastructure of the Internet exists within territorial boundaries, even if its capacities are virtual. It is at the level of physical infrastructure that governments can block access to content and track the online actions of citizens. Networks also enhance the effectiveness of surveillance as all content can now be directed through the same gateways and “read” as it passes by, a convenience unavailable in the days of paper notes and whispered messages” (Joyce, 2010). What we should always be conscious and alert about while applying digital and online tools to our activism activities – is our protection and cyber security. There are a number of free and digital tools and open source software that activists are advised to use in their everyday work to secure and protect their mobile and online communications.

So does the digital technology endanger activists more than it helps them? Although all four elements of the digital activism environment – infrastructure, economic, social, and political – influence one another, this is particularly true of the political. Along with technological dangers for activism there is today a second level – political, as the examples of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning show these activists are imprisoned and kept captive by their activism actions.

In this workshop we discussed aspects of how digitisation is influencing activism today. We looked into what digital activism is and how we can use it to our benefit and what are the dangers and its negative aspects were discussed. A great number of individual points were gathered by different groups, which are organised and presented here in a condensed manner.

Influence of digitisation on activism

  • Communication
  • Community building
  • Direct online communication
  • Petitions online:;;
  • E-Democracy
  • Social entrepreneurship (i.e.
  • Crowdfunding + crowdsourcing
  • Creative Commons (Open Licensing of Projects)
  • Campaigning online or online activism: The practice of using the Internet to increase the effectiveness of a social or political change campaign.
  • Online education / e-learning


  • New opportunities for creating communities (for example, for LGBT groups at
  • Possibilities for campaigning online and advocacy
  • Digitisation facilitates activism especially in places where democracy is limited and online organising: The use of the Internet to increase the effectiveness of the community organising model, a system developed by trade unions that defines how grass roots organisations should advance the political interests of their members. Like community organising, online organising includes recruitment though personal networks, volunteer labour, and empowerment of community leaders. While strategies remain largely the same as in the pre-Internet era, these activities are now supported by digital tools like email, social networks, sophisticated supporter databases, and online events tools.
  • Gives a chance to build truly international movements
  • Easier to organise seminars, workshops and events etc.
  • Opportunity to get fast feedback

Positive effects of digitisation on activism

  • Crowdsourcing: A distributed labour practice wherein a job that is usually done by one person is given to a large group of people who each do a smaller piece of the task, usually as volunteers
  • Cyber-activism: Campaigning and organising for political and social change in cyberspace, an alternative virtual world composed of interactive online communities and immersive experiences
  • Meme: In an online context, a piece of content that spreads widely on the Internet without changing its basic structure. The content of the meme can be an inside joke, an image, or a response to a prompt such as the creation of a “top five” list on a given topic.
  • Hashtag: Community-driven tagging; is a convention mostly used on the micro-blogging site Twitter to aggregate and track content by subject, with the use of a hash symbol (#) followed by a key word, or tag. An example is #4change, a hashtag for tweets on the use of social media for social change

Negative effects of digitisation on activism

  • Clicktivism
  • Astroturfing: The appearance of a grassroots campaign that is, in fact, organised by an established institution. This controversial practice is commonly used to benefit specific individuals or groups who have funded the campaign. In the world of digital activism, astroturfing can take the form of paid blogging or other supposedly spontaneous and personal communication that is actually determined by payments from an interest group.
  • Twitter bomb: The process of flooding the micro-blogging site Twitter with similar hashtags, keywords, and links using multiple accounts, with the objective of attracting more viewers to a website, product, service, or idea.

Useful resources

Book “Visualising Information for Advocacy” available online

Tactical Tech focuses on the use of data, design and technology in campaigning through their Evidence & Action programme, and on helping activists understand and manage their digital security and privacy risks through the Privacy & Expression programme.


  1. Joyce, M. [ed] (2010). Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of Change: International Debate Education Association.


4. Digitisation and Human Rights

What are Human Rights?

The Wikipedia page on human rights very well describes the basic notion of these norms. It says: “Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in national and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights “to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being”, and which are “inherent in all human beings” regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.” The idea of human rights has been promoted as a legal concept in large part owing to the idea that human beings have such a set of fundamental rights that transcend all jurisdictions, however they are typically implemented and enforced in different ways and with different emphasis within various legal systems.

Human rights define minimum standards to ensure that a person is treated with dignity. Whether this is the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of your age, disability or ethnic background, the right to the protection of your personal data, or the right to get access to justice, these rights should all be respected, promoted and protected.

The European Convention on Human Rights is one of the world’s strongest, if not the strongest, mechanism of human rights protection. It is a legally binding treaty that all its signatory states, i.e. the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, have to abide by. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg makes sure that the Convention is properly implemented across Europe by functioning as a court of last resort whose decisions are authoritative. More information about the Convention can be found here: and

What are Digital Rights

Wikipedia introduces digital rights as follows: “The term digital rights describes the human rights that allow individuals to access, use, create, and publish digital media or to access and use computers, other electronic devices, or communications networks. The term is particularly related to the protection and realization of existing rights, such as the right to privacy or freedom of expression in the context of new digital technologies, especially the Internet. Internet access is recognized as a right by the laws of several countries”. A few of the existing human rights provision have been shown to be relevant when it comes to the Internet, for example freedom of expression, data protection and privacy and freedom of association. Other rights that need to be taken into account are the right to education and multilingualism, consumer rights, and capacity building in the context of the right to development. A very comprehensive analysis of issues concerning freedom of opinion and expression on the Internet has been produced by Frank La Rue for the United Nations Human Rights Council. It can be found here: <>. Furthermore, there is also an interesting analysis of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights with regards to matters connected to the Internet. You can find it here:

The Internet Rights Charter has been developed by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in 2001. It encompasses seven themes:

  1. Internet access for all
  2. Freedom of expression and association
  3. Access to knowledge, shared learning and creation
  4. Free and open source software and technology development
  5. Privacy, surveillance and encryption
  6. Governance of the Internet
  7. Awareness, protection and realization of rights

The APC states that “the ability to share information and communicate freely using the Internet is vital to the realisation of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”

More information about the Internet Rights Charter:

Internet and Human Rights in Europe (input by Anne Weber)

In European context the work on human rights is based on the European Convention of Human Rights. First of all, it is important to know that the Internet both facilitates some of the rights in the Convention (freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly), but it can also create risks for some of the rights (right to private life).

In 2011, a first report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression was produced; the report is about human rights and the Internet: <>. It is a really helpful reading to understand the human rights at stake in the Internet and the complex relation between the Internet and human rights.

Important in the European context is the institution of the Commissioner, an independent non-judicial body of the Council of Europe. It has the mandate to monitor the situation of human rights in 47 member states. The priorities are at the moment media freedom, freedom of expression, discrimination, children’s rights and human rights defenders. The Commissioner can visit states and bring up relevant issues. The Commissioner also writes reports about the human rights situation.

When we discuss freedom of expression on the Internet, the first question to raise is access to the Internet. In some countries, this is starting to be recognized as a human rights. This is the case now in Greece, Estonia and to a certain extent France. A linked question concerns access to the infrastructure necessary to access the Internet. For example, in the UN Millennium goals in the chapter on reducing poverty, there is a reference to broader access to the Internet as a means to achieve the Millenium goals aims.

So, when we discuss access we also discuss:

  • Infrastructure
  • The Internet as a public service
  • Network neutrality, which means that every service on the Internet should be treated equally by the Internet service provider (ISP), that is no service should have lower or faster speed than others.

The next point we need to discuss concerns content. When we discuss content, the human rights issues at stake are:

  • Restrictions, such as content blocking or filtering, which is something ISP do at the request of State authorities
  • Restriction due to hate speech or extremism, because freedom of expression is not an absolute right, and in the case of hate speech freedom of expression can be limited. When we look at hate speech online, we need to take into account several aspects, such as intention, context, type of message, target group. The European Court of Human Rights has had several judgements on this issue, and it is now accepted that some forms of speech that shock or offend should still be protected under freedom of expression.
  • Cyber-crime, which includes trafficking, arms trade etc. These aspects are included in another Council of Europe convention, the Cybercrime Convention.
  • Protection of children, particularly when we discuss child pornography online or protection against inappropriate content online.
  • Privacy and data protection

The main questions about the Internet and human rights are:

  • Who is responsible online? Human rights law puts the onus on governments but what is the responsibility of ISPs, for example?
  • What is the jurisdiction in which to bring a violation to Court?
  • The judgement needs to be proportionate and there should be a chance for judicial review.

An example for this is the case of Yildirim v. Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights which showed the limits of permissible content blocking online. It was decided that the blocking of several websites was not proportionate and there was no judicial review.

Some of the questions raised by participants were:

  • How does the Council of Europe support states to prosecute hate speech online

We do this through recommendations to the member states, guidelines and through the judgements of the Court of Human Rights. We also do this through other tools, such as campaigning and education. The No Hate Speech Movement is an example in this sense.

  • What is the work done at the moment on Internet neutrality

Mostly this happens through a policy recommendation from the Council of Europe to governments from the year 2010.

  • How are jurisdictions being defined online?

This is a difficult issue and still under discussion at the moment. Most of the times, there are mutual treaty agreements between two states, where they decide to work on an issue.

  • Is the Internet lawless?

This is still work in progress and discussions are now more and more relevant on this. This is indeed new territory and there are implementation issues when it comes to human rights. The basic idea is that human rights should apply online as well. A set of guidelines of rights for Internet users has been developed by the Council of Europe in this respect.

Summary of the “Digital” Human Rights

Human rights concerning the Internet:

  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom of assembly
  • Right to private life (Privacy)
  • Right to respect for for private property

Additional topics that could be relevant to Human Rights online:

  1. Access
  • Right to access necessary infrastructure
  • Digital Divide
  • Public Service
  • Network Neutrality
  1. Content
  • Blocking/Filtering (vs. Freedom of Expression)
  • Hate Speech/Extremism (vs. Freedom of Expression/Harm)
  • Protection of Children
  • Cybercrime
  1. Privacy
  • Data Protection


During the study session, we organised a simulation activity based on the Pirate Bay case at the European Court of Human Rights, in order to debate around the relevant human rights and the Internet.

The instructions for the exercise are to be found in the manual Bookmarks, for the activity A Day in Court:

The case was changed and we used an adapted version.

The Case

The applicants are Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, two residents of Sweden.

During 2005 and 2006 the two applicants were involved in different aspects of one of the world’s largest file sharing services on the Internet, the website “The Pirate Bay” (TPB). The service provided by TPB made it possible for users to contact each other through torrent files and exchange digital material through file-sharing outside TPB’s computers. In 2008 they and others were charged with complicity to commit crimes in violation of the Copyright Act on the grounds that they had furthered the infringement by the website’s users of copyright in music, films and computer games. The applicants were convicted at national level. On appeal the first applicant was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment and the second applicant to eight months. They were also held jointly liable with the other defendants in damages of approximately EUR 3,300,000.

The applicants appealed their conviction at the ECHR because they thought their conviction by a Swedish court was a violation of their right to freedom of expression (Article 10). The European Court needed to decide whether restricting their right was legitimate. This meant looking at whether a balance was struck between protecting intellectual property as included in Art 1, Protocol 1 and freedom of expression. The court also needed to decide whether the interference to Freedom of Expression which was decided by the Swedish court was necessary for democratic society.

Role card for Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi

You are both freedom of information activists who believe that information should be shared freely and communication infrastructure such as The Pirate Bay fall under the protection of article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The protection of property is less important for you than the freedom of expression.

Article 10 from the European Convention (simplified)

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and communicate information and ideas without interference.

2. Freedom of expression can be restricted if the restriction is ‘necessary in a democratic society’ – in particular, in order to protect the rights of others.

Article 1 from Protocol 1 from the European Convention Protection of property

Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law. The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

Role card for the Swedish government

You believe it was right that Mr Neij and Mr Sunde Kolmisoppi were convicted by the Swedish court. The freedom of expression can be limited to protect other rights like the protection of property in certain conditions. You consider that in this case the interference was necessary for a democratic society as you have to protect also those whose property rights were at stake. The material shared by The Pirate Bay was music/films/computer games and falls under the copyright act.

Article 10 from the European Convention (simplified)

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and communicate information and ideas without interference.

2. Freedom of expression can be restricted if the restriction is ‘necessary in a democratic society’ – in particular, in order to protect the rights of others.

Article 1 from Protocol 1 from the European Convention Protection of property

Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law. The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

Role card for the judges

It is your task to manage the trial and then to decide whether you think the Swedish courts acted rightly and Neij and Sunde Kolmisoppi were indeed guilty or whether his rights were violated.

The trial process:

Begin by reminding Neij and Sunde Kolmisoppi and the representative of the Swedish Government that each side will be given a few minutes to present their side of the case; then you will put questions and they can respond to each other. Tell them that they must behave in an orderly manner and follow any instructions from you!

The decision you need to make:

You need to consider whether Neij and Sunde Kolmisoppi should have allowed their website to be available to the public. Their right to freedom of expression would seem to allow them to do that, but freedom of expression is not an absolute right – it needs to be balanced against other social concerns and other human rights. It is your task to decide if the balance has been correctly struck in this case.

Possible question the judges could ask:

  • The Pirate Bay
  • Do you think that you harm the society?
  • What was your intention by setting up this website?
  • Did you express your opinion via this website?
  • The representative of Sweden
  • Do you think that the platform/content shared is of public interest?
  • Is it of democratic interest to restrict their freedom of communicating informations about where to find content which infringes copyright?
  • Are there not lots of other ways which users could use to find file sharers, like e.g. yahoo etc.?


These are the arguments that participants came up with during this simulation. Main arguments in favour of the Pirate Bay

  • TPB only has links, and not the content itself, so they are not responsible for storing the content
  • TPB is only an infrastructure, it is not the content itself
  • Sharing information is a fundamental human right!
  • TPB also allows for freedom of association which should not be restricted in this case

Main arguments against the Pirate Bay

  • Property rights should be respected in this case
  • The Pirate bay was encouraging crimes
  • The people living in the country have a standard of living that allows them to buy the products that the Pirate Bay put online
  • What the Pirate Bay was doing was not spreading information, but spreading entertainment, so it should not be protected by the Article 10 of the European Convention
  • This was not about freedom of expression but hate speech
  • TPB did nothing against the infringements they were accused of and did not take down any content which they were requested to take down


5. How the Internet functions


Here you can find a short introductory video on how the Internet works:

Around 2 billion people on the planet are using the WWW (World Wide Web). But, how many in the course of doing that have wondered “How does it work”? Maybe many started wondering after the privacy problems concerning our daily activities on the Internet have gained prominence or heard about it after having dealt with spam or cookies.

We live in a time where the Internet changes very quickly and the advances of technology seem impossible to keep up with. In the following text we will try to present a guide into a world of limitless possibilities, opportunities and of course like everything else in life, threats.

The Internet gives us an opportunity to find information about everything we can come up with. We are able to stay in touch with people all around the world. The world’s best libraries are open for us, so are museums and music. We can use social networks for organising events and promote causes dear to us.

But the best thing about the Internet is that it is inherently egalitarian. In principle none of the constituent parts of the network has a irreplaceable function. The Internet does not have a centre, but all its part have a part in keeping up the functioning of the net as a whole.

The different parts of the network communicate with one another based on protocols, such as the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP). The TCP is one of the core protocols and is very common. This protocol provides ordered delivery of a stream of octets (octet is a digital information that consists of eight bits) between programs connected to a local area network (LAN), Intranet or the public Internet. We use web browsers and they use TCP to connect to servers on the World Wide Web. It is also used for transfer of files or to deliver email.

On the other hand, IP is a protocol that identifies us on the Internet. It gives us the possibility to communicate with others on Internet. It gives everyone a unique identifier, commonly known as IP.

What is the Internet?

Many of us have asked ourselves: “How does the Internet work?”. There is no centralization of management of the Internet. But, instead, we have thousands of individual networks, each of which is run on its own. These networks cooperate with other networks to direct Internet traffic and to pass along information between them.

In order for these networks to cooperate they must agree on common Internet procedures and standards for protocols. There are different groups who are trying to establish standards, the most famous of which is the Internet Society, a non-profit group. This group supports the work of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), which works on most of the architectural issues on the Internet. On the other hand, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is responsible for how the TCPs and IPs evolve.

We also have the World Wide Web Consortium that develops standards for the evolution of the WWW (World Wide Web). This consortium is an industry group run by the Laboratory for Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

For the Internet domain names – the names we type in the browser, like – there are private companies which oversee the registration process. They are called registrars and they take care that only one person or company can have a particular domain. Although they compete with one another, they also must cooperate.

On one side we have all these organisations who take care of the Internet, but the most important part of the Internet are individual local networks. These networks can be found in government agencies, universities, companies or online services. Those that provide Internet access for individuals are call Internet service providers (ISP).

The networks are connected in a variety of ways and local networks join in consortia known as regional networks. A variety of leased lines connect regional and local networks. These leased lines can be as simple as single telephone line or as complex as a fibre-capacity lines.

Private companies that sell access to their lines build backbones, which have high- capacity lines that carry great amounts of Internet traffic. Government agencies or large corporations pay for some of those backbones.

What are TCP and IP?

The job of these most important communication protocols is to break up every piece of information and message into pieces called packets and deliver those packets to destinations, and then reassemble the packets into their original from after they have been delivered so the computers can use them.

IP is in charge of making sure that the packets are sent to the right destination and TCP breaks down and reassembles the packets. We use these protocols because the Internet is working as packet-switched network. In this kind of network there is no unbroken connection between sender and receiver. Instead, information is broken up into little parts and sent over many routes at the same time. Thereafter the parts are reassembled at the receiving end.

In order for personal computers to take full advantage of the Internet, they need software that understands the TCP and IP protocols.

There are different ways for a computer to connect to the Internet and then use TCP/IP protocols through a direct connection via a local area network, cable modem or DSL line. To connect a computer needs a network card. And for communication with the network and the Internet’s TCP/IP protocols, the network card requires a hardware driver software that mediates between the network and the network card.

How does WiFi work?

The most popular way of connecting wirelessly to the Internet is with WiFi. This technology is also called 802.11. There are several standards for 802.11, which provide different data transfer speeds, including the 802.11b standard which operates in the 2.4GHz spectrum and transfers data at a maximum rate of 11 Mbps. The standard 802.11a operates in the 5GHz spectrum at 54 Mbps. There is also the 802.11g standard, which operates in the 2.4GHz spectrum and transfers data at a maximum rate of 54 Mbps.

In order to connect to the Internet this way, an 802.11 card needs to be used with a computer device and it needs to connect to a close compatible wireless access point, called a router. Routers can be at public access points, in a home or business. One problem with WiFi networks is that they can be vulnerable to snoopers and hackers, who can use “war driving” to get into the network and monitor the data you exchange with the router. War driving refers to the practice of driving around with a car in order to find as WiFi networks which are open or susceptible to being hacked. In an open (or hacked) WiFi, a user’s communication to the router is not encrypted and thus readable to third parties. Therefore it is for example important to use HTTPS (an encrypted connection to websites) when using public WiFi hot spots, to avoid being exposed by the router’s lack of encryption.

Am I anonymous on the Internet?

We all want to be anonymous sometimes, but this is not completely possible on the Internet. We live in a digital age where we as users have witnessed numerous examples of stolen private information. When we are online we give certain information to others at every step that we take and every site that we visit. Because the information we transmit is usually dispersed among many different agents, companies combine information from many different sources to achieve a coherent and meaningful data set about you.

The common user accesses the Internet through a paid service to an Internet Service Provider. They give us the possibility to connect to the Internet.

We all have our own address that is called IP address. It takes the form of four sets of numbers separated by dots, like for example: This is the number that allows us to send and receive information online. You can think of it as a telephone number for Internet communication.

Depending upon the type of service we have, the IP address can be dynamic, that means it is changing from time to time. Or it can be a static one, which is permanently given to us for as long as we use the service.

The IP address we have does not give our personal identifiable information. But, our ISP knows our IP and can connect that IP to your name, so this is possibly a weak link in the protection of our privacy. ISPs have varying policies for how long they store IPs. Sometimes there are also data retention laws that oblige ISPs to store data for a certain amount of time. However, many ISPs do not disclose their data retention policies. And this makes it difficult to choose a “privacy- friendly” ISP. We can conceal our IP address by using the Tor browser, which allows us to surf the net using some other person’s IP. This browser and more information can be found on

The other problem with Internet anonymity appears when we browse websites on the Internet. When we do this we give some personal information to the websites we visit. The browser we use gives our IP address to site operators. What we can do in this situation in order to protect our data is to change the settings to restrict cookies and purge traces of our online presence. The Do Not Track (DNT) is a setting present in most browsers that tells websites that we do not want to give our information to them. However, these measures are not enforceable and do not always stop websites from collecting information on which web pages which IP accesses at what time. Most sites do not want to change their behaviour and there is no common agreement upon this issue. Some may not show personalized ads to us and others may limit the ways they collect our information during browsing.

The common Internet user navigates the net with search engines. These track each of our searches, record our IP address, the searched terms and the time of our search. The largest search engines said in the past that they retain our personal data so they can give us better services. There are examples like and, which are search engines that do not record users’ IP addresses. Startpage simply removes all identifying information from our query and submits it anonymously to Google.

Some good ideas on how to protect our privacy

We should avoid using the same website for our email and our search engine (like i.e. Gmail and Google search). The email account always asks us to login and once you are logged in all the searches you do on the same website can be attributed to your email, and thus usually your name. Furthermore will google scan your emails and use the information obtained to show you personalized ads in your google searches.

For our privacy we should not download search engine toolbars. Toolbars collect information about our browsing habits.

Many websites store data from every visit we make in a so-called cookie. These are saved on our hard drive and they represent pieces of information sent by a web server to a user’s browser. The browser saves the information and sends it back to the web server whenever the browser returns to the website. Thus you can be identified as the same person even if your IP has changed in the meantime. Some cookies share data with online marketers by using our searching history. You can configure your browser to delete all cookies when you close it. Turning cookies off completely is usually not an option as many websites cannot be used without them.

Many websites use a type of cookie called a “flash cookie” which is more difficult to erase than normal cookies. However, you can use an add-on for Firefox browser called “BetterPrivacy” to get rid of these cookies, too.

Fingerprinting is a summary of the software and hardware settings collected from a computer. Each device has a different clock setting, fonts and software. When we go online our device show these details to websites which is collected as a – sometimes unique – “fingerprint”. Sometimes fingerprinting can replace cookies as the primary means of tracking. Blocking fingerprinting is more difficult tougher. With this method it is impossible to know when you are being tracked and fingerprinting leaves no evidence on your computer. We can test how unique our browser’s fingerprint is based on the information that it shares with the sites that we visit. Panopticlick by the EFF gives a uniqueness score and lets us see how unique our surfing the web is:

When a smartphone or other mobile device is being used to get online, most often we will use mobile applications rather than an Internet browser. However, these apps collect our data and send it to app-makers or directly to some advertisers. Unfortunately many mobile-apps do not have privacy policies and when they do, they are often dense with legalese, long and difficult to read.


6. Open Source and Us

In order to understand the open source philosophy, we can start by examining what commons are.

What are commons?

Commons are usually referring to a resource that every member of a community has access to. It can either be inherited or created and the sustainability of the resource must be ensured. The commons are considered to be crucial for our social, cultural and economic life.

What types of commons exist?

Commons exist in a wide variety of types and can both be material goods or immaterial goods. They both exist in the sphere of the digital as well as in the world of the analogue:

  • natural resources (e.g. a river, air)
  • goods created by a community (e.g. an educational system)
  • networks (e.g. the Internet)
  • knowledge
  • language
  • law
  • computer software
  • mathematical formula
  • a melody
  • human genome

Why are commons relevant to our rights?

Right against dispossession

When legislating on commons, one recurrent argument is that citizens have a right not to be dispossessed of their resources, especially since these resources often have a vital function in society.

Elimination and prevention of unjustified restrictions on commons

There are often private interests at stake when we talk about commons. A company might for instance want to control what information is circulated on the Internet. In such cases, it is important to bear in mind the interests of the community and make sure that citizens can use commons without restrictions that are not justified.

Commons thus need to be actively protected by citizens and lawmakers in order to ensure that also future generations can enjoy them. There is no universal solution for protecting commons, as each case is very specific as to the type of the resource and the social and geographical context it is situated in. When developing protection mechanisms, it is of utmost importance to fundamentally understand the functioning of the issue that is being discussed. In recent years, this has proven to be a crucial question when lawmakers on national and European level have been deciding on the fate of the Internet. It is very important for all of us that politicians, civil servants, journalists, lawyers and other stakeholders understand the complexities of the world wide web.

Open Source

The open source philosophy is very connected to the concept of freedom. In English, we must make a distinction between free as in free of charge on one hand, and free as in free from restrictions. In the open source movement, this distinction is usually called free beer vs. free speech. The key freedom here is the latter; free from restrictions. This means that a product that is free of charge is not necessarily an open source product, and a product that is sold for a price may also be open source as long as it meets certain criteria. These criteria have largely been derived from the free software movement, more about this in the next chapter on Free and Open Source Software.

What makes a work open source?

The user has to be able to: 1. Use the work for any purpose 2. Study its mechanisms, be able to modify and adapt it 3. Make and distribute copies, in whole or parts of it 4. Improve/extend the work and share that

These principles can be adapted to various spheres of life, here are some examples:

Education and academia

The Open Syllabus Project (OSP) is an effort to create the first large-scale online database of university course syllabi as a platform for the development of new research, teaching, and administrative tools. We have this opportunity because, to date, syllabi are almost completely unexploited resources. They are treated as ephemera of the teaching enterprise rather than as its DNA.



The goals of OpenWetWare (OWW) are to support open sharing of research, education, publication, and discussion in biological sciences and engineering. This project promotes and supports collaborations among researchers, students, and others who are working towards these goals. They believe that open sharing of research improves the quality and pace of scientific and engineering research.



RepRap takes the form of a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap prints those parts, RepRap self-replicates by making a kit of itself – a kit that anyone can assemble given time and materials. […] RepRap was the first of the low-cost 3D printers, and the RepRap Project started the open-source 3D printer revolution.


Politics and decision-making

Liquid Democracy is the combination of networks and democracy. It is a term designed to capture a more fluid and responsive participation of citizens in the democratic process through the use of both online and offline networks. Votes flow through networks of trusted relationships and in this way a range of types of “delegation” can be created, from forms we are familiar with such as conventional representative democracy, to fluid parties and direct democracy.

Source: and

Other examples include architecture, science, art, or any other products or processes that can be based on collaboration and open access to information. You can read more about the open source philosophy and its applications here:


7. Free and Open Source Software

What is Free/Open Source Software?

Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that can be classified as both free software and open source software. That is, anyone is freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the software in any way, and the source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to voluntarily improve the design of the software. This is in contrast to proprietary software, where the software is under restrictive copyright and the source code is hidden from the users, so that the rights holders (the software publishers) can sell the final program.

FOSS has become an international phenomenon, moving from relative obscurity to being the latest buzzword in a few short years. However, there is still a lack of understanding about what really constitutes FOSS and the ramifications of this new concept. To better explain this phenomenon, we will examine the philosophy and development methods behind FOSS.

The FOSS philosophy

There are two major philosophies in the FOSS world: the Free Software Foundation (FSF; philosophy and the Open Source Initiative (OSI; philosophy. We begin with the FSF philosophy, due to its historical precedence and pioneering position in the movement.

According to the FSF, free software is about protecting four user freedoms:

  • The freedom to run a program, for any purpose;
  • The freedom to study how a program works and adapt it to a person’s needs. Access to the source code is a precondition for this;
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so that you can help your neighbour; and
  • The freedom to improve a program and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

At the heart of FSF is the freedom to cooperate. Because non-free (free as in freedom, not price) software restricts the freedom to cooperate, FSF considers non-free software unethical. FSF is also opposed to software patents and additional restrictions to existing copyright laws. All of these restrict the four user freedoms listed above. For a more detailed explanation of why software needs to be free, please refer to the FSF explanation, “Why Software Should Be Free”, found at

The OSI philosophy is somewhat different:

“The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.”

The OSI is focused on the technical values of making powerful, reliable software, and is more business-friendly than the FSF. It is less focused on the moral issues of Free Software and more on the practical advantages of the FOSS distributed development method.

While the fundamental philosophy of the two movements are different, both FSF and OSI share the same space and cooperate on practical grounds like software development, efforts against proprietary software, software patents, and the like. As Richard Stallman — the founder of the Free Software Movement — says, the Free Software Movement and the Open Source Movement are two political parties in the same community.

The FOSS development method

The FOSS development model is unique and became possible only with the advent of the Internet and the communication boom caused by it. The cathedral and bazaar analogies are used to contrast the FOSS development model with traditional software development methods.

Traditional software development is likened to the way cathedrals were built in ancient times. Small groups of skilled artisans carefully planned out the design in isolation and everything was built in a single effort. Once built, the cathedrals were complete and little further modification was made. Software was traditionally built in a similar fashion. Groups of programmers worked in isolation, with careful planning and management, until their work was completed and the program released to the world. Once released, the program was considered finished and limited work was subsequently done on it.

In contrast, FOSS development is more akin to a bazaar, which grows organically. Initial traders come, establish their structures, and begin business. Later traders come and establish their own structures, and the bazaar grows in what appears to be a very chaotic fashion. Traders are concerned primarily with building a minimally functional structure so that they can begin trading. Later additions are added as circumstances dictate. Likewise, FOSS development starts off highly unstructured. Developers release early minimally functional code to the general public and then modify their programs based on feedback. Other developers may come along and modify or build upon the existing code. Over time, an entire operating system and suite of applications develops and evolves continuously.

Open Formats

Open formats are not FOSS directly, but are hugely important to their success and therefore deserve a few lines of explication. Wikipedia defines an open file format as “[…] a published specification for storing digital data, usually maintained by a standards organisation, which can therefore be used and implemented by anyone”. Open file formats are thus free of restrictions – such as patents or copyright – and are used by both FOSS as well as proprietary software. Their importance derives from the fact that they enable different programs to work on the same files. A JPEG image file can for example be opened and edited by wide range of programs. Closed file formats on the other hand make it impossible for the user to choose which program he or she wants to use. In this case the user is locked in the software that can deal with that specific file format. This often disadvantages FOSS programs because they do not have financial means to buy the rights to use closed formats. Therefore closed formats often stop users from migrating to FOSS software as these FOSS programs cannot deal with the files they have previously created with the proprietary software.

Why should I use FOSS?


In the following we have tried to group the reasons that should make you use free software under two major headings, on the one hand pragmatic reasons and on the other hand what one might call ideological or moral reasons. This distinction reflects also the different approaches taken by proponents of the open source and the free software movements. Free software exists for longer and the focus of this movement is mainly on the moral factors, the open source movement on the other hand is younger and has usually focused on the pragmatic factors.

Pragmatic reasons


In FOSS the source code of software is freely available and can be looked at and analysed by everyone. In proprietary software this is not the case, the inner workings of such software can be imagined to be in a kind of black box, into which it is impossible (or very difficult) to peek. Why should you care about such a thing?

Firstly, as has become apparent with the recent PRISM ( and Tempora ( scandals, governments are quite interested in getting to know what we are doing and this has become much easier with the advent of the Internet. The issue is of course much more acute in countries where civil society engagement is repressed. The user of proprietary software can never be sure that his software does not transmit his data to unwanted institutions without his knowledge. Furthermore not only governments but also the commercial makers of software have an interest in gathering as much information about the user (that is you!) as possible. This is in itself dangerous, and can become even more so when companies work in concert with repressive governments. There exists also the danger that other groups can gain access to a company’s servers without their consent, which leaves you exposed if there is any information on these servers you do not want to be public.

FOSS programmers and activists are very privacy conscious (indeed, one could say that this sometimes borders on paranoia), which is a first reason for FOSS software being much safer in this regard. Furthermore, even if an individual programmer tried to build a function into his software that allowed for the transfer of private information, such a function would be easy to spot by others, as he could not hide this function anywhere. Because the source code of FOSS is open to everyone, such attempts are very easily spotted.

This brings us to a second point. As the source code is open and because there are often very big numbers of people (of course depending on the popularity of the software project) working on and analysing the source code, bugs (these are mistakes and weaknesses in the software code) are quickly spotted and mostly quickly fixed as well. This leads to a higher dependability on the software. FOSS is often more stable, more secure and more privacy oriented than proprietary software. Users of FOSS often feel very invested in the software they use and actively contribute to the bettering of their favourite tools. Users of commercial software are usually more apathetic in that regard and even if they did want to help, they lack the tools to investigate software errors, as they cannot look at the source code of their software. Knowledgeable users of FOSS can even fix errors they find themselves, which of course is entirely impossible with proprietary software.

As a user of FOSS, you can find out what your software is doing and you are helped in that task by a very big community!

Control and independence

Behind a proprietary software stands (usually) a single developer, be it a software developing company or any individual or group of people. If that developer decides to discontinue the software, users of the software encounter a very serious problem. They can continue using a software that will at some point stop working on new hardware and operating systems, a software that will never get rid of bugs it contains, and a software to which certainly no new features will ever be added. Users cannot either easily migrate to a different software, that is take their data and simply use a different program for it. The reason for this is that the user does not know how his data is saved nor how it is processed by the proprietary software he is using. A similar problem arises if the developer decides to continue the development of his software in a direction that you as a user do not agree with, here you are faced with the decision between using old software (that will stop working) or new software (that does not do what you want it to do).

With FOSS these issues are a lot less scary. If development by the original authors of the software stops, and if there are some users (maybe you?) that have the necessary coding skills and motivation, they can simply continue the project. Problem solved. If that does not happen, at least you as a user of FOSS are much more likely to be able to transfer your data for use in a different program, because the inner workings of the software you are using are transparent. And what happens in the case where the original author or authors decide to develop the software in a direction you do not like? Well, you can simply fork it! That means that you take the source code of the program as it is and turn it into your own project. This is in fact how much of the diversity of FOSS has come about. Take OpenOffice as an example, which used to be the most popular FOSS word processor. However at one point many developers stopped agreeing with the direction into which the project went. What they did is that they simply started a new project, called LibreOffice, and continued to develop that as they saw fit. Nowadays, at least under GNU/Linux, LibreOffice has become the most popular word processing software.

As a user of FOSS, you control the software you use and you are independent from any possible tyrannical decision by the software’s developer!

It is cheap!

FOSS advocates always say that the free in Free Software should be understand as in “free speech” and not as in “free beer”. However, the good thing is that Free Software is also free as in “free beer”. While there are companies that make money with FOSS, they do so with either support or custom development services. FOSS must always be available freely for everyone to use, and for people with little or no money, this can be a very welcome point.

Leverage the masses!

Open source projects are open to everyone. Anyone can use, read, modify some software’s code. This has a couple of very significant consequences that stem from the fact that big groups of people gather around such FOSS projects. Firstly, as already mentioned, the more users a software has and the more people look at its source code, the more likely eventual bugs are to be spotted. Secondly, a software’s users will usually be very helpful towards new users, and support is often better even than in commercial projects. Also, if you have a good idea how your favourite FOSS project could be improved and you mention that to its developers, the chances are that your feature will soon be implemented. It is very rare to observe programming that is as responsive to user wants as in FOSS in the world of proprietary software.

As a user of FOSS, you are standing on the shoulders of giants and can rely on the help of a great many engaged people!

Moral reasons

You might think that we have heard enough reasons already. Well, actually, we have not even come to the most important ones. Even if FOSS were not so darn good to use, there are still even more weighty reasons to use it.

FOSS as a model mode of production

FOSS (and the related copyleft movements that work according to similar principles) can give us a model of how an alternative societal mode of production can look like. And what is best, FOSS proves that such a model can grow and thrive even within the current economic system. Thus, using FOSS can be seen a bit like projects that (for example) try to build alternative modes of living within a society that is very much focused on monetary gains and incentives. If you think about FOSS, do not think of it as boring unintelligible work behind a computer screen, but more like guerilla gardening!

What makes FOSS so different from proprietary software development in the way it is produced? Firstly, it is not based on monetary incentives. FOSS developers do not code in order to make any money, they code because it is something that fulfils them personally, or because they believe it to be useful for themselves and above all for the wider society. Secondly, FOSS developers implicitly acknowledge their place within a wider society. They do not try to control what they create by limiting other people’s access to their work, but see themselves as part of human society, where culture and knowledge creation is a common enterprise. Every contribution made to FOSS (and other forms of free culture) makes bigger the pool of common culture and knowledge that everyone can draw from, use and improve on. FOSS is part of the commons or the public domain, it is not owned by anyone, but everyone in common (or no-one at all – but that is a philosophical detail). Furthermore this digital commons is far more diverse than what would be possible in a market driven system: There are for example at the moment more than 300 different GNU/Linux varieties (called distributions). This lively diversity makes for a very innovative environment, where those distributions that are popular with users can quickly gain in popularity while others sink into obscurity. Good practices and smart ideas spread quickly in this environment, because – again – they are open to everyone.

What is more, most FOSS software is using copyleft licences, which means that every derivative work based on it, must also be published as FOSS software. This assures that the public domain grows constantly, especially because also companies sometimes want to use FOSS software and are thus forced to publish their improvements in turn.

As a user of FOSS, you make a statement for better organisation of how we produce stuff. You literally live the change you want to see in the world!

Community matters!

While most FOSS projects are initially started by a single person and or a small group of developers they usually turn quickly into a big communal effort. Big projects can group together dozens if not hundreds of developers and many many more users that help in improving the software. You might be wondering how you can help in such projects, as you probably do not know how to code yourself. While programmers are of course essential, a successful FOSS projects needs very diverse skills. Firstly, a large user base is important in finding bugs in the software and to be helpful in this regard does only require very basic computer skills. Furthermore, FOSS projects are translated into many languages, so that every user can use it in his mother tongue: Therefore translators are needed! Also, many FOSS projects depend on graphic designers, who can help make the graphical elements of the software. Most FOSS projects also have an active forum, where new users can ask for help. Thus experienced users are needed to give support to newcomers. As you see, a FOSS project can be very inclusive and can group together a very diverse set of people. The feeling of a common enterprise, of creating something together to help society and to enlarge the common stock of tools that everyone in need can use, can be a very beautiful, enriching and fulfilling experience!

As a user of FOSS, you are part of a big community, where people help each other and where everyone contributes the skills they possess!

Software is not neutral

You might have often heard people decry the dangers of any given technological innovation, be it the Internet, the TV, mp3s, or Facebook. While it is wrong to categorically claim that every new technology is bad for us human beings, not all such fears are unfounded. Just to say that technology is neutral is too simple! Our lives are more and more shaped by the way we interact with technology (which includes software) and, more importantly, how we human beings interact with each other is shaped by technology. Software is not in that sense neutral, it can shape who we are individually and socially. We need to see that this can be both for the worse and the better. What is clear however, if we do want to have a say in what kind of people we want to be(come) and in what kind of society we want to live in, if we deem these basic democratic interests important, then there is no way around FOSS. Only in FOSS the user can directly shape the software he uses, while proprietary software is developed so that the company behind it can extract the highest possible profit from it. We are sure that you will agree that a profit maximising principle is a bad basis to help us shape the society we want to live in. These matters are especially important nowadays where the Internet and thus software structures more and more our social lives, as for example through Facebook. It is also crucial where software is used – as by us – in activism. It is absolutely essential that we realise that the digital sphere has begun to constitute a major public space, and as a public space its structure and shape should be actively formed by those who inhabit it, and not those who can make the most profit of it!

As a user of FOSS, you can actively shape the digital world we all live in!


Thus if you want to live in society where collaboration is the norm, where people create because it brings them fulfilment and because it helps others, and where everyone is involved in a communal project, then you can do that! Unfortunately not yet in all spheres of life, but definitely in the sphere of software! The ideas inherent in FOSS have already spread to other domains, such as art and also hardware development, and by using it we strengthen it further so that the idea of freedom can one day encompass all aspects of productive life! Using FOSS is a political statement for a better future!

What can you do to support FOSS?

Use it

Install GNU/Linux and FOSS software or use FOSS software available for Windows or OS X.

Join “users” mailing list

Most bigger software projects have mailing lists where development, use and future features are discussed. You can get a view into the working of a FOSS community and help direct the future of your favourite software!

Report “bugs”

One of the most useful ways to help FOSS developers is to let them know when the software is not doing what it is supposed to do so that they can fix the problem and make the software better. Many software projects have so-called bug trackers where you can post bugs. Otherwise you can simply write the developer an email describing the problem.

Translate, create artwork, create documentation, support pages, how-tos

There are many more aspects to FOSS development than coding. Help out with the skills you have, be it translation, writing how-tos or wikis, or designing art work.

Help moderate and give dynamic to the community

Online communities need people who moderate the discussion and who stimulate a fruitful exchange of ideas.

Most FOSS developers are not paid for their work and code on these projects in their spare time. Help them out by donating a little bit of money. Even small amounts are very welcome!


8. Cryptoparty

Introduction to Cryptography

Cryptoparties are get-togethers organised locally in which people learn the basics of cryptography in groups. They are held in an informal setting and hope to show that cryptography need not be something dry and technical, but that it is an area that people can playfully discover together.

Basics of Encryption

Wikipedia introduces the topic of encryption as follows: “[…] Encryption is the process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties can read it. Encryption does not of itself prevent interception, but denies the message content to the interceptor. In an encryption scheme, the message or information, referred to as plaintext, is encrypted using an encryption algorithm, generating ciphertext that can only be read if decrypted. […] It is in principle possible to decrypt the message without possessing the key, but, for a well-designed encryption scheme, large computational resources and skill are required. An authorised recipient can easily decrypt the message with the key provided by the originator to recipients, but not to unauthorised interceptors.”

Purpose of encryption

The purpose of encryption is more than simply preventing third parties from reading the message of data. Encryption can furthermore sure that the message is not altered while being transmitted from the send to receiver. This is called message integrity. Additionally encryption can allow us to ensure that a message has indeed been sent by the person that purports to be the sender. This factor is called message authenticity. Only all three facets combined can guarantee that communication between two or more parties is secure.

Types of Encryption

There exists a basic distinction between two types of encryption. On the one hand there are symmetric-key encryption schemes and on the other hand asymmetric-key encryption schemes. Both are used to secure data sent over the Internet.

Symmetric-key encryption

  • Very fast on modern computers
  • The key used to encrypt the message is the same as the key used to decrypt the message.
  • For it to be effective you need to “share the key” (to tell other person what your password is)
  • This can be problematic when there is no safe way of transmitting the key to the other party

Asymmetric-key encryption

  • Encryption/decryption performed with two different keys
  • Based on tough mathematical problems
  • It is also called public-key encryption
  • One key is made public, the other is kept private
  • It is too hard (probably impossible with today’s computers) to figure out your private key from your public key
  • With the public key you can decrypt messages encrypted with the private key
  • With the private key you can decrypt messages encrypted with the public key
  • No prior key exchange needed and thus no need of a secure communication channel prior to encryption

Steps of good public-key encryption

The following steps are usually taken in some form to ensure secure communication between two parties:

  1. Bob encrypts with his private key
  • This ensures that message is sent by Bob (provided that only he has access to his private key)
  • Only Bob can use his private key to encrypt a message, however everyone who has his public key can decrypt it.
  1. Bob re-encrypts with Alice’s public key
  • This ensures that only Alice can decrypt the message (provided that only she has access to her private key)
  • Everyone can encrypt messages to Alice with her public key, but only she can decrypt it
  • Even Bob cannot decrypt his own message because he does not have Alice’s private key
  1. Alice receives message
  2. Alice decrypts using her private key
  3. Alice re-decrypts using Bob’s public key

Double encryption round ensure that message came from Bob, because only he could have encrypted it.

Digital Signatures

Digital signatures ensure that the message was produced by the person claiming to be the sender and that it has not been altered while being transmitted from the sender to the receiver. Digital Signatures work in a way similar to the first encryption round in the above example. However, instead of encrypting the whole message with your private key, you only encrypt a hash of the message. A hash function obtains a unique and short fingerprint of a file. By encrypting only the hash not the whole message needs to be encrypted. This allows to send plaintext messages with a digital signature. The receiver can decrypt the encrypted hash and if that hash is the same as the one of the plaintext file, the message was sent by the person who claims to be the sender. This is the case because no-one else has the sender’s private key and because any other text than the original one would have produced a different hash.

Email Encryption

The most used FOSS solution for email encryption is GPG (GNU Privacy Guard). You firstly need to generate a key pair with a public and a private key.The public key is published to the world via key servers and is associated to your email address. Thus everyone can encrypt messages to you without even having to directly contact you because they can simply download your public key from the Internet. However, before sending such a message you must be sure that this is indeed the person’s public key, otherwise secure communication cannot be ensured. The private key is kept in your computer and is best secured with a password. If someone gains access to your private key they can decrypt all encrypted messages sent to you. Therefore it is extremely important that this key is stored on secure computers and protected by strong password.


HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and “is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web” (Wikipedia article on HTTP). The additional “S” in HTTPS stands for Secure and means that the communication between your browser and the web server is encrypted (using the TLS/SSL protocol). This encryption is based on SSL certificates. SSL certificates contain a public key (which you can use to encrypt data to be sent to the webserver), a common name/domain name (e.g. (this defines for which website the public key is valid) and a digital signature of it made by a verified Certificate Authority (this ensures that the certificate is a valid one). The public key is used only in the beginning for the session key-exchange. Once the session key has been exchanged using asymmetric-key encryption the session-key is used to symmetrical encrypt all following data. The initial exchange with asymmetric-key encryption ensures that only the user’s browser and the server know the session-key. Certificates should be signed by a trusted party (Certificate Authority – CA) in order to ensure that they are valid. A bunch of trusted CA certificates is provided with every browser.


The following situation present dangers with regard to secure communication:

  • You do not use encryption to transfer login/passwords to a website. If the communication to a website is not encrypted at login, then someone can potentially steal your login credentials.
  • A segment of the communication path is unencrypted. Even if your communication with the server is encrypted the server itself might transfer information unencrypted within the data centre. If there is someone monitoring that traffic this person or entity can read the whole unencrypted communication. This has happened in the case of the NSA, which hooked up to Google fibre channel internal data centre links, through which traffic runs unencrypted.
  • Private key is compromised. This is one of the worst case scenarios. Depending on what the private key was used for the following can happen:
  • Someone could decrypt your emails
  • Someone can decrypt your web traffic
  • If it is a CA private key: someone can impersonate a webserver
  • The encryption algorithm or encryption key is weak. The mathematical problems that encryption is based on are only difficult if the numbers used are sufficiently high. This if these numbers (the encryption key) is too low Someone can brute-force the key (try many different possible solutions until finding the correct one). For example the NSA is said to be able to break a 1024bit RSA key in a reasonably short time (1 year).

Concluding Remarks

Thanks to Snowden it is quite clear that if you are targeted by an intelligence agency you have little chance of not being hacked in some way or another(encryption not being the main obstacle). Your aim should rather be that no 12 year old nerd kid/neighbour/co-worker/boss/ex-boyfriend/random hacker can easily hack you, appropriate your identity, see your naked pictures, steal your money or read your conversations. So use encryption as much as you can!

Practical Information: Safe Browsing

In the following you can find some add-ons for Firefox that enhance privacy. Many of these plug-ins also exist for Chrome, you can search Chrome’s extensions to find them yourself.

Beef Taco

“Sets permanent opt-out cookies to stop behavioural advertising for 100+ different advertising networks, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, all members of the Network Advertising Initiative, and many other companies.”

Certificate Patrol

“Your browser trusts many certification authorities and intermediate sub-authorities quietly, every time you enter an HTTPS web site. This add-on reveals when certificates are updated, so you can ensure it was a legitimate change.”

“Converts obfuscated/nested links to genuine clean links.”


“Load the pages you go to 27% faster. Stop tracking by 2,000+ third-party sites. Encrypt the data you share with popular sites.”


“GoogleSharing helps prevent Google from tracking your searches and web activity.”

In the preferences (in Menu -> Add-Ons) click on “edit proxy” and change the name to “”

HTTPS Everywhere

“HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.”

NoScript Security Suite

“The best security you can get in a web browser! Allow active content to run only from sites you trust, and protect yourself against XSS and Clickjacking attacks.”

This is a very effective plug-in, but also requires a lot of work to set up correctly. If you want to use it, read the FAQ. You may choose not to use it however, if you feel it is too much work.


“Control what gets sent as the HTTP Referrer on a per-site basis.”

In the preferences you can set up settings for specific site and/or define the default behaviour. The best (safe and functional) is to put the default on “block” and check the box for “3rd party requests only”. Some sites may not function properly, in which case you should give them individual rules in the preferences (giving them the setting “normal” will make them work).

How to organise your own CryptoParty

There exists a website ( and a handbook ( that can provide you with information about existing cryptoparties in your vicinity and give you all the materials and help necessary to organise your own cryptoparty.


9. Open Source Tools for Activists and Organisations

The following is a list of Open Source (FOSS) tools and software that were found to be useful to the activities of activists and organisations. For all tools some information is given regarding its use case and the proprietary software it can replace. You can find more tools in Chapter 10 of this guide on the Open Sessions.

Project Management and Collaboration Tools


CiviCRM is web-based, open source, Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) software geared toward meeting the needs of non-profit and other civic-sector organisations.

This means that this software can help you organise your organisation’s relationships to partners, donors, etc.

Supported Operating System: all, web-based, needs to be installed on a server

Replacement for which closed software: Wild Apricot, Donor Tools

Links with further information:

Drupal Commons

Drupal Commons helps organise content into topic (organic) groups with blog, discussion, document, wiki, and event content types. It also allows users to create (user) relationships with each other in order to follow each other’s activities on a site.

Supported Operating System: Cross-platform, but needs to be installed on a server

Replacement for which closed software: Asana, Basecamp, ONLYOFFICE

Links with further information:


Redmine is a flexible project management web application.

Supported Operating System: all, web-based

Replacement for which closed software: Asana, Basecamp, ONLYOFFICE

Links with further information:


Open Atrium is open source collaboration software that enables organisations to securely connect their teams, projects, and knowledge.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac OS

Replacement for which closed software: Asana, Basecamp, ONLYOFFICE

Links with further information:


Mind-mapping software

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac OS

Replacement for which closed software: Xmind, Mindmeister

Links with further information:


ProjectLibre is a project management software system. It intends to be a complete desktop replacement for Microsoft Project

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac OS

Replacement for which closed software: Microsoft Project

Links with further information:


LibrePlan is a collaborative tool to plan, monitor and control projects and has a rich web interface which provides a desktop alike user experience. All the team members can take part in the planning and this makes it possible to have a real-time planning.

Supported Operating System: all, web-based

Replacement for which closed software: Asana, Basecamp, ONLYOFFICE

Links with further information:


Helps to schedule meetings etc., it is a FOSS clone of Doodle

Supported Operating System: all, web-based

Replacement for which closed software: Doodle

Links with further information:


Thunderbird is a free, open-source, cross-platform application for managing email and news feeds.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac OSX

Replacement for which closed software: MS Outlook

Links with further information:


Voice Chat Software

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android (needs to be installed on server though)

Replacement for which closed software: Skype

Links with further information:


A personal wiki, that allows for easy note-taking, journals and task management. You can use as a single person or collaboratively with others. As with a normal wiki pages can be interlinked and pages are saved in a simple wiki format. Many plug-ins exist that add diverse functionality.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows

Replacement for which closed software: None

Links with further information:

Media Tools (Graphics, Audio, Video)

VLC Media Player

VLC’s simple claim to fame is “It plays everything!” It can handle DVDs, (S)VCDs, Audio CDs, web streams, TV cards and can even play most damaged files.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, OS X

Replacement for which closed software: Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime

Links with further information:


MPlayer is a media player. It can play a very wide variety of formats, both audio and video. There are varieties like gmplayer and smplayer that add easier to use user interfaces.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, OS X

Replacement for which closed software: Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime

Links with further information:


Fancy presentations

Supported Operating System: Probably all (used in web browser)

Replacement for which closed software: Prezi

Links with further information:


All-round photo editing and graphic design software.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac

Replacement for which closed software: Adobe Photoshop and similar software.

Links with further information:


Photo editing and workflow software specialised in raw editing.

Supported Operating System: Linux

Replacement for which closed software: Adobe Lightroom and similar software.

Links with further information:


A “movie studio in a box,” Cinelerra lets you capture, composite, and edit audio and video

Supported Operating System: Linux

Replacement for which closed software: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

Links with further information:


This tool brings high-quality video editing tools to home users and “semi-professionals”

Supported Operating System: Linux, OS X

Replacement for which closed software: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

Links with further information:

Office Tools


All-round word processing, Spreadsheet etc. work suite.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac OS

Replacement for which closed software: Microsoft Word etc.

Links with further information:


Scribus is an Open Source program that brings professional page layout to desktops with a combination of press-ready output and new approaches to page design.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac OS

Replacement for which closed software: Adobe Indesign, iWork Pages, Microsoft Office – Publisher, QuarkXPress

Links with further information:

(Note: When installing Scribus tool (layout editor): if you use Windows , it will request an installation of Ghostscript in order to install the Scribus. Ghostscript is a tool for printing.)


Collaborative text editor

Supported Operating System: All

Replacement for which closed software: Google Docs

Links with further information:


Collaborative text editor

Supported Operating System: All

Replacement for which closed software: Google Docs

Links with further information:

Security and Anonymity


Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend yourself against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.

Supported Operating System: All

Replacement for which closed software: None

Links with further information:


Password Manager. A locker for all your passwords than can be accessed via one master password. As it is not safe to let the browser remember passwords or always use the same password, this software lets you use a different password for every service while having to remember only a single one.

Supported Operating System: Linux, Windows, Mac None

Replacement for which closed software: None

Links with further information:


TrueCrypt is a open source software that allows you to crypt files.

Supported Operating System: Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux

Replacement for which closed software: None

Links with further information:


Cryptocat is an instant messaging platform that lets you easily have private conversations with friends. Messages are encrypted before leaving your screen and are protected from being viewed by any third party, even from us.

Supported Operating System: iOS, Android

Replacement for which closed software: Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Line, KakaoTalk

Links with further information:


10. Tools for Advocacy and Campaigning

What is advocacy and what is campaigning?

One area of confusion is that the two terms are used differently by different people and organisations.

  • Some see advocacy and campaigning as synonymous terms, both being umbrella terms for all forms of influencing (including, for example, lobbying and public campaigning).
  • Some will see advocacy and campaigning as broadly the same, except that they see advocacy as being more reactive and direct, and campaigning as being more planned and proactive and involving multiple channels of influence.
  • Others use the two terms very differently. For them advocacy relates to engagement in government and inter-governmental policy processes. Campaigning, on the other hand, they equate to generating support and pressure from public audiences – an approach more accurately referred to as “public campaigning”.

There are also different views on what advocacy and campaigning are for and what is their scope. The primary purpose of advocacy and campaigning can be seen to be one or more of the following:

  • To influence public policy and practice
  • To influence corporate policy and practice
  • To influence public attitudes and behaviour
  • To influence decision making processes so that affected communities are involved
  • To empower affected communities to influence the decisions that affect them

In all cases, advocacy and campaigning are about promoting and trying to achieve some positive change, not just raising awareness of problems.

More information about advocacy and campaigning you can find on the next web pages:

When we are discussing advocacy, we have to consider patents and copyright.

Strategising is key to campaigning. Producing a clear idea of your goals, your vision and your stakeholders is vital to building a successful campaign. We discussed building a power map, where you map out the organisations and individuals who have a stake in your campaign and how supportive they are.

You do this by creating two axis, one from left to right of how supportive they are of your campaign, and one top to bottom dictating how much power they have. You then work out with organisations and people are more powerful or less powerful than you, and less supportive or more supportive of your campaign.

Identifying these people is vital because a successful campaign involves working out how to work or indeed fight against these people. And also, these is good for making a general view about people you need to contact and ask for help for having a successful campaign.

There is a case study about Rape in UK that we discuss during the session:

Info-Activism Examples from around the world on the topic of Women’s Rights Campaigning:

The Greenpeace Campaign Session

The British Historian, Basil Liddell Hart “Deterrent or Defense” (1960) said: “Keep strong if possible, in any case keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent, and always assist him to save his face. Put yourself in his shoes – so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil – nothing is so self-blinding” (seen in Robert Kennedy’s Thirteen Days – A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis).

Campaign (kam’pan/), gerund or present participle: campaigning.

Work in an organised and active way toward a particular goal, typically a political or social one, “people who campaigned against child labour”.

Synonyms: crusade, fight, battle, push, press, strive, struggle, lobby. More “they are campaigning for political reform”.

Origin: early 17th cent. (Denoting a tract of open country): from French campagne “open country”, via Italian from late Latin campania, from campus “level ground”. The change in sense arose from an army’s practice of “taking the field” (i.e., moving from a fortress or town to open country) at the onset of summer.

Greenpeace – Detox Campaign:

The Greenpeace Detox campaign aims at making the big clothing factories stop using dangerous, cancerous toxins in the production of clothes. So far 19 firms agreed to the call: Levi’s Zara, Adidas, Puma, Nike, and Burberry.

We also covered the importance of producing a clear and succinct message during the Greenpeace Campaign session. If a message is too broad or too vague then it will not be listened to. Producing a clear and to the point message is so important if your campaign is going to be successful. During this part we had a team work and we did some campaigning pictures related to oil spill issue.

The biggest campaign win of the Greenpeace was the case of the #Arctic30:

The name of the most successful e-mail sent to Barack Obama was: “HEY!”

A good way of campaigning that Greenpeace is using: Communicate! Argue! Promote! Inform!

Example of tools

Campaigns are utilizing an increasing number of tools that assist with accounting, contact management, and handling increasingly complicated government regulations. There are some examples:

Another example is, an Australian non-profit e-democracy project that invites politicians, senior public servants, academics, business people and other key stakeholders to engage in high-level policy debate. (

There are some external links for open source tools:

Open Source Victoria is an Industry Cluster consisting of over 80 Victorian firms and developers which provide services and technology related to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS.) Open Source Victoria offers marketing, advocacy and information referral services, and aims to raise the profile of FOSS in Victoria and work with other similar organisations across Australia:


11. Open Sessions

The following texts are notes from sessions organised during the open session part of the programme. Anyone interested could propose such an open session about a topic that they deemed important.

No Hate Speech Movement Open Session

In this open session, we discussed first the understanding participants had about hate speech online. We ran the activity called “Saying it worse” from Bookmarks (, which is the educational resource developed within the No Hate Speech Movement of the Council of Europe. Participants identified how to assess examples of hate speech online and what is worse. In all the cases, participants mentioned that the example was really bad, but they came up with the following criteria to gauge the impact of some instance of hate speech:

  • if the message reaches more people, then it is worse
  • if it is just a personal opinion posted, then it has a weaker impact, and even weaker if it is a personal message
  • the more catchy the message, the more dangerous, so if the message comes in the form of a cartoon or music, it is worse
  • the more visible, the more voted a post is, the more dangerous, because it seems that there is a lot of support and approval for it
  • if the content of the message is really hateful, then the whole message becomes worse
  • jokes that promote stereotypes are also very dangerous, even if they look innocent, because they are spread quite quickly and repeated. They are also very easy to share online, so they have a high potential for harm
  • if the message comes from a political or public person, then it is worse
  • if the message aims at destroying someone’s career or public image or reputation, then it is worse
  • if the message appears in an online newspaper, it is worse, as it is easy to share it and media have a high influence on public opinions
  • if the message incites to violence then it is worse

Participants also mentioned the following factors as important in assessing hate speech:

  • we need to judge on the impact on society that the message can have
  • we need to look at the target group of the message
  • we need to analyse also the legal context and decide in which jurisdiction the message is
  • we also need to look at who says the message

Participants also discussed what can be done and what they could do:

  • report the message to the website or community managers or moderators
  • develop counter-narrative and provide other information
  • ignore the message, as this could make it look unimportant or irrelevant
  • react with arguments
  • make things personal, and provide examples
  • inform people because a lot of racism comes from lack of knowledge and ignorance
  • write one to one messages as well if you want to change people’s minds
  • go to court for the worse cases.

Planning seminars using Open Source Tools

1) Strategic planning

It is essential that you plan carefully and strategically. The following points should be kept in mind:

  • Ensure the right project for the right moment/place
  • Understanding the application process, involving people
  • Who is going to organise? Involvement of working groups/local organisations?


2) Preparation

When preparing a seminar constantly try to think about the following points:

  • flow of information
  • easy overviews
  • monitor progress


3) Seminar

During the seminar you should be aware how to best implement the following two points:

  • managing a community
  • external communication


4) Follow-up

Things to keep in mind after your seminar:

  • spread conclusions and results
  • reach different kinds of audiences (youth organisations, general public, funders, etc.)
  • make everything accessible so it can be used and built upon by others


Tools for learning within the Organisation

Learning within the Organisation:

An important part of every organisation’s activities is to foster learning within the organisation so that all members have the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively pursue the organisation’s goals. The following types of events/materials can achieve this objective:

  • Seminars
  • Political school/Academy
  • Lectures
  • Discussions
  • Workshops
  • Handbooks and materials

Which digital tools and methods can be used?

  • Make videos and audio with a simple audio recorder and put it online using open source
  • Audacity
  • If you have an expert invited you can have video and audio broadcast –
  • WordPress Plug-in can be used for publishing.
  • Twitter wall during the trainings to share opinions
  • Online trainings
  • For giving some information about the training in advance, we can give the participants several tasks (not more than three), show short videos and give links for reading materials
  • Participants can evaluate the sessions online
  • Use modern methods to make boring issues interesting to discuss – e.g. animations can be made by drawing and then with a stop-motion – moving things on table
  • The most of the things you are doing need to me accessible online
  • Talks and lectures can be reused


Video about learning: If you are only working for organisational knowledge management you can use this platform: It is digital and free. However, if you want to document a workshop a Moodle is not the right solution. This might be a system to gather all material but there are better ways to document workshops. One way would be to record lectures and discussions and upload them online. You could use a WordPress installation like the resource-toolkit of this seminar to document workshops. Materials used during the seminar can also be uploaded online in order to reach a greater audience and save on printing costs.

Copyleft is a type of copyright license, therefore in order to analyse copyleft we first have to understand copyright.

What is covered by Copyright? Copyright covers all authorial works (not just books, but films, software, art etc.). A copyrightable work needs to be original: this means that the work mus not be copied and that it must be (a little bit) creative. For example, simply assembling individual phone numbers into an alphabetical phone book example is not deemed creative and thus does not lead to the creation of a copyrightable work. Copyright covers expressions, and not ideas. This means that in a book the text will be copyrighted, but not the ideas that are described with the text.

Which rights are given by copyright? If your work fulfils the criteria explained in the above paragraph, then you are given the following type of rights:

  • They are automatic (as soon as you publish/finish a work you get its copyright, you do not need to register it or add the copyright symbol).
  • They cover not only the work, but also derivative works (if someone changes your work and publishes that this is still considered copyright infringement).
  • You are given the right to make copies, to sell the work, to share it or to adapt it.
  • These rights are transferable, which means that you can sell them to other persons.
  • Only you have these rights, no-one else (if you haven not transferred them), which means that other people are NOT allowed to make copies, to sell the work, to share it or to adapt it.
  • These rights last very long, generally for the duration of the life of the author + 70 years (in the EU and USA). In some countries it is slightly less and there are different rules for some types of works.


The history of copyright Historically quite a bit of things were owned in common. At the same time as the industrial revolution the first enclosure movement started in England, which enclosed the public properties and turn them into private possessions. These affected mainly agricultural lands. The recent proliferation of copyrights and patents is often called the second enclosure movement, because much of our cultural common property is turned into private property. With the advent of the digital age a lot of different forces heavily impacted how we deal with authorial works and there has therefore been a push for a change in copyright law.

The technological changes of the digital age The Internet and computers arrive, what changes?

  • It becomes very easy to share stuff (it is now both fast as well as cheap).
  • Collaborative work over the Internet becomes an important way in which we produce culture and knowledge (Mash-up, Youtube culture, Open Source).
  • The “user” comes to the scene. The strict separation of consumer and producer does not hold anymore. Many mix the two roles. This is also called the “prosumer”.

An idea: maybe copyright is bad? An argument can be made that copyright is bad for all parties involved:

  • It is bad for authors, because they base their works on other people’s works.
  • It is bad for public, because they cannot access works if they do not have the necessary money.

Two possible ways to act on this idea

  1. We can change copyright law. This means either to abolish it or to make it weaker (less rights, less duration, etc.)
  • This would apply to all works.
  • This is would have a huge impact. Such a change is therefore important, but unfortunately also very difficult to achieve.
  1. We can encourage people to use copyleft licenses.
  • This would apply only to those people/works that use copyleft license. It is easy to implement because it is based on existing copyright law.

What is copyleft? Copyleft licenses are licenses that use copyright law. At other points of this seminar we have spoken about open source. This is one example of copyleft licenses. In order for a license to be called copyleft, it must share the following attributes:

  • Everyone must be free to use the work, modify it, redistribute it (even commercially).
  • Any work produced from a copyleft work must be licensed under the same terms (comment about non-commercial licenses and share-alike)

Copyleft works are in the commons and all other works that are based on it must also be part of the commons. This ensures that the commons become bigger and bigger.

Creative Commons You can find Creative Commons on this website: Creative Commons are the most popular (non-software) copyleft licenses. There are many different varieties of these licenses and not all of them can be called “free”. Some of the Creative Commons licenses have one or both of the following clauses, which render then “non-free”:

  • non-commercial clause
  • no-derivative clause

On some websites (for example Flickr and Soundcloud) you can choose such a license when publishing your content, thus ensuring that your works are “free”. If that is not possible then you can mention the license next to your work and provide a link to the Creative Commons license (on the Creative Commons website). On the creative commons website, there is a tool ( that helps you decide which license to choose.

Questions to discuss During the session we also discussed the following questions:

  • Do you publish stuff?
  • What license do you use?
  • What are the dangers to authors? How to balance the interests of authors and the public?
  • What do you think about non-commercial clause?
  • How can we make sure that authors get money to live?
  • If you could change copyright law, how would you change it?


12. Transfer of knowledge in organisations

This session dealt with how to organise a session that will transfer the knowledge and skills you have gained during this seminar to members of your organisation. The situation is the following:

You are back in your organisation and you are asked to run a 2-hour (or more) session with the volunteers to explain them a topic.

Every session needs to be carefully planned. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself; the answers to them will help you set up a successful session:

  • How do you do this? What methods do you use? (fill in a session outline!)
  • How could you also include some online education before and after the session? What difficulties do you anticipate?
  • What skills do you need to run this session?
  • What tips would you give to another person running this session?

Try to organise the answers to those questions, too. This will help you to know what you want to do, what materials you will need, whom you will have to contact, etc. Structure the information about your session in the following way:

  • Title + date + time + session developed by
  • Objectives
  • Methods and timetable
  • Outcomes and evaluation (to be filled in after the session was delivered)
  • Materials needed and space required

Below are two short descriptions of sessions that participants came up with while following the above instructions. The topics are connected to what participants learned in this seminar, namely matters of digitisation, and the objective is to link these matters to more “traditional” topics of activism.

Digitisation and activism


To find out how to effectively turn online activism (“click”-activism) into offline activism.

Methods and timetable

  • 10 min: Introduction on digitisation’s effect on activism
  • 20 min: Group work: difference between online and offline activism
  • 10 min: Introduction to group work
  • 30 min: Debate, Internet vs. Street activism
  • 10 min: Break

Things to consider for a successful implementation of this session:

  • Debate will not work, people could get angry, not finding the connection between online and offline activism.
  • Be able to moderate groups, to know how to use the toolkit and its contents.
  • Be patient, believe in what you are saying, have some ideas about how to get Internet activist to go offline, help moderate the workshop

Outcomes and evaluation

Possible questions to ask after the session:

  • “What did you find useful, did you use the Open Source tools we showed you? “Do you think this will influence people?”

Material and space needed

  • Some flip charts, markers, room for group work, computers if needed.
  • Use the toolkit for the session, record the debate and put it online. Put outcomes on a pad and share with others and if there is a campaign model, put that online.

Digitisation and human rights


To find out how digitisation affects human rights

Methods and timetable

  • General format:
  • multiple sessions in the course of one day
  • begin by brainstorming on digitisation and human rights (what people know already)
  • introduce the general connection between human rights and digitisation
  • talk about one concrete case
  • hot chair (1 minute fast) with questions and discussions
  • gather ideas about creative ways to convey this topic to the general public: campaign videos, graffiti….

Outcomes and evaluation

Possible questions to ask after the session:

  • “Did we come to ideas that can be implemented?”
  • “Was the topic too theoretical?”
  • “What are the next steps to implement some of the ideas gathered during the session?”

Material and space needed

  • input/reading materials on human rights
  • case studies
  • find experts

Privacy and encryption of email communication


  • Understand the concept of privacy and how it adapts in the digital sphere.
  • Install and use email-encryption for your emails on your computer.

Methods and timetable:

  • max. 10 participants
  • Online Preparation
  • Introduction / Presentation (20min): What is privacy? Why is privacy needed in the Internet? What is encryption? Why do we need to have it?
  • Energizer (10min)
  • Workshop-Part (80min): How to do email encryption based on the Cryptoparty Handbook (
  • Feedback round
  • Online Follow-Up: Send links with the handbook to every participant

Material and space needed


  • computer for every participant
  • power and Internet
  • projector
  • nice to have: Flip chart and paper


  • big enough for 10 people with their computers
  • i.e. in computer rooms in universities / schools, network and power.

Advocacy and campaigning


To learn how to implement and sustain advocacy and campaigning online.

Methods and timetable:

Where do we start? – General Things

  • Respect your enemy, know your target, do not try the impossible, use facts, sometimes less is more; the campaign has to go straight into the heads of the people (“there is no bad publicity”)

Strategy Paper

  • Short introduction of the method (organisations and population involved)
  • Input from the group members – individual project approach

Planning of the campaign: When – where – who – what — The 4W Structure

  • Do no forget a time schedule
  • Know where you can set public awareness raising actions (fields and targets)
  • Who has the possibilities to contribute something?
  • Online work (design, project specific website, social media), street, involved resources (materials, tools, media [poster, photos, videos] funding)


  • Getting people engaged on a personal level (storytelling, emotions, specific cases, material level, moral and ethics)
  • Strong pictures, strong words
  • Visualize what you can change, beneficial for the society
  • But: do always stay with the facts
  • Examples for the levels we talked about above, present some campaigns which were successful: … (ask audience why theses campaigns were successful


  • Also follow your enemy
  • Don not live in a bubble
  • Invite the people to SHARE content (viral development)
  • Simple and short messages (pictures work well)
  • Recommended maximum of two posts a day

Open Source in youth organisations

Title + date + time + session developed by

  • Title: “Open Up to Open Source – Unlocking new tools for campaigns”
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Number of trainers needed: 6


  • Be familiar with Open Source and learn how to use the tools
  • Install free Open Source software
  • Be able to go back to the organisations and share the tools
  • Make other participants organisation more passionate about Open Source and campaigns

Methods and timetable

  • 10 minutes presentation about Culture of Open Source
  • 5 minutes divide into groups
  • 15 minutes presentations about tools in the divided groups
  • 30 minutes tasks
  • 15 minutes presentations about tools in the divided groups
  • 30 minutes tasks
  • break
  • 45 minutes feedback into groups (introduce the tool and to come up with the campaign)
  • 30 minutes wrap up


  • GIMP – Create a poster
  • WordPress – Create a website
  • Zim – Schedule a project
  • Audacity – Make a podcast
  • Strut – Create a presentation
  • Thunderbird and PGP – Encrypt emails

Practical results of this session:

  • Campaign they can do and tools for that
  • Produce material about open source and campaign
  • Resource library

Outcomes and evaluation

  • Survey
  • Encourage people to share what they are doing afterwards

Material and space needed

  • 6 station computers plus participants’ computers
  • Projector for the intro
  • Paper and pens
  • Space big enough for 6 groups
  • Electricity
  • Internet
  • Food
  • Water

How do you choose your Open Source tools?


  • To understand what is the purpose of using tools
  • To learn how to differentiate between Open Source and commercial tools
  • To install, explore useful Open Source tools in your organisation

Methods and timetable

Timetable and general format:

  • Max. 15 participants
  • Energizer – 10 minutes
  • Group discussion “why we are using tools?” – up to 15 minutes
  • Introduction/ presentation “What is open source” – up to 15 minutes
  • Practical workshop – at least one hour
  • Outcomes and evaluation – 30 minutes

Potential Problems:

  • People do not know how to use a computer
  • People are already used to some non-open source tools and afraid to use new ones
  • People think that commercial programs are better than open source software
  • Language problems

Tips for another person running this session

  • You need to know all the tools yourself
  • Don not use to much technical language
  • Introduce just 3-5 tools and explore them during practical workshop
  • Do not make theoretical part long, boring, text presentation
  • If you do not have good presentation skills ask for help from someone in your organisation who does
  • Start with discussions what you are using now and what is still missing, afterwords introduce tools from easiest to install/use to hardest(never use something similar)

Material and space needed


  • Computer for every participant
  • Power and Internet
  • Projector
  • Nice to have: Flip chart and paper


  • Big enough for 15 people with their computers
  • Can use computer rooms in universities/schools which have network and power


13. Film Session

As there are a number of movements and communities devoted to Open Source we wanted to use this opportunity to dedicate one session to them and their developments. Below there are a number of films which explain the history, development and impact of them.


The Pirate Bay – Away from Keyboard


An intellectual freedoms documentary based around the interpersonal triumphs, and defeats of the three main characters against the media industry.

Revolution OS


Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary film that traces the twenty-year history of GNU, Linux, open source, and the free software movement.

The Code


A film about the coming about of the Linux operating system, featuring some of the most important people involved with the FOSS movement.

Arduino – The Documentary


A documentary about open hardware, especially the Arduino microcontroller.


14. Organisations

Fortunately we were able to gather activists from many different backgrounds. What follows is a list of organisations who participated in this study session.



You can find them here:


Cooperation and Development Network


You can find them here:


Federation of Young European Greens


You can find them here:


Network of EuRopean Digital Youth


You can find them here:


Junge Grüne/Young Greens


You can find them here:


Young Cyprus Greens


You can find them here:


Support Initiative for Liberty and Democracy


You can find them here:


Young Greens of England and Wales


You can find them here:


Georgian Young Greens


You can find them here:


Green Youth Hamburg/Grüne Jugend Hamburg


You can find them here:




You can find them here:


Digital Kosovo


You can find them here:


Green Window


You can find them here:


Ecologist’s Movement of Macedonia – DEM


You can find them here:


Grønn Ungdom


You can find them here:


Codziennik Feministyczny


You can find them here:


Federal Organisation Green Youth/Young Greens Germany


You can find them here:

  1. Any references to Kosovo in this text, whether to the territory, institutions or population, shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.