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GSM: global social menace?

Last night I heard Ali Gündüz speak about Free Software GSM. During the talk, and in the following discussion, many interesting points were made:

  • The GSM standard is controlled by only four or five international corporations
  • The standard is very complicated for even experts and seasoned developers to grasp
  • Mobile phone manufacturers have no access to the source code of the GSM modems that they use in their devices – they don’t know how they work
  • Many phones have two processors – one dedicated solely to the GSM modem, meaning that even Free Software and open hardware phones do not have access to the way that GSM is used (even Openmoko phones)
  • GSM is incapable of meaningfully encrypting your calls, and its common practice for carriers to allow no encryption at all (in some countries encrypting calls is actually illegal)
  • With only a few thousand euros, and the motive to do so, it is possible to eavesdrop on any GSM based conversation
  • Several countries’ law enforcement agencies use GSM eavesdropping without warrants
  • Network licenses issued by governments are required to set up your own GSM network, are prohibitively expensive, and often already all sold to large carriers.
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Open Respect: about time

I recently became aware of the new initiative from Jono Bacon called “open respect”. As you may know, this campaign and accompanying website aims to improve the standard of communications between members of the Free Software community, particularly where it takes place in informal environments, such as online forums.… Read the rest


FSFE in Sweden at Free Society Conference

Last weekend Matthias (Fellowship Co-ordinator) and I joined other FSFE fellows and flew to Gothenburg for FSCONS (Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit). We arrived on Friday afternoon and went straight to the venue at Gothenburg IT University.

FSFE hosted a track this year called Divide and Reconquer, which focussed on the problem of the trend towards centralised non-free Internet services, and possible solutions.… Read the rest


Progress of new fsfe.org website design

At the FSFE web sprint on the weekend before last I focused on implementing a new design for fsfe.org. The design will provide a fresh new appearance for all fsfe.org pages (it wont affect other FSFE sites like fellowship or planet; that will come later), and is the result of more than a year of discussion and planning.… Read the rest


Web sprint begins

This morning the FSFE web sprint began. Last night we met and went to dinner at a very traditional (and remarkably cheap) Turkish restaurant, where we sat cross legged in the back room on patterned cushions and carpets, and ate a variety of stuffed flat breads, vine leaves, white cheese and salad.… Read the rest