What are free (libre) messengers?

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Free messengers in the sense of these pages are decentralized chat systems. Every component of these systems must meet the criteria of free programs and be secure (future-proof).


… in the sense of “free messenger”:

This refers to the strict criteria of the “Free Software Foundation” for “free software”:

  1. The freedom to run the program as one wishes and for any purpose. There must be no restrictions whatsoever in terms of

    • Time (e.g. “30-day trial period”, “License ends on December 31, 2030”)
    • Purpose (“Use permitted for research and non-commercial application”, “may not be used for performance comparisons (benchmarking)”) or
    • Location / arbitrary geographical restrictions (“may only/not be used in country XY”)

2 The freedom to examine how a program works and adapt it to their needs
Without the freedom to change a program, users remain dependent on the goodwill of a single provider. Access to the source code is a prerequisite for this.

3 The freedom to distribute copies and thus help others
Software can be copied and distributed at virtually no cost. The prohibition of passing on a program to a person who needs it makes this program unfree.

  1. the freedom to improve a program and to distribute the improvements to the public so that society as a whole benefits.
    Access to the source code is also a prerequisite for this.


… in the sense of “free messenger”:

  1. security in data protection
    through decentralized structures and non commercial goals

  2. ensuring freedom of thought and decision-making
    through education and communication of knowledge and overall contexts

  3. legal certainty
    through respect for privacy and compliance with data protection

  4. Transmission security
    through the use of strong encryption methods and no centralized possibility to evaluate metadata.
    Caution: This partial aspect of security is usually the focus of “secure” messengers.

  5. Technical security
    through the use of standards

… means: future security

Excursus: Pseudo security.

Digital sustainability

Freedom and security can be brought together as “digital sustainability “.

**What is “digitally sustainable”? As early as the 4th century, Augustine of Hippo described how non-material goods should be handled: they should be passed on. Digital sustainability deals with the question of how an ethically responsible approach to digital, immaterial goods is possible in today’s society, which is characterized by digitalization.

**What characterizes digital sustainability? “Digital resources are managed sustainably when their benefit to society is maximized so that the digital needs of present and future generations are met equally. The benefit to society is maximized when digital resources are accessible to the greatest number of people and reusable with a minimum of technical, legal and social restrictions. Digital resources are knowledge and cultural artifacts digitally represented as text, images, audio, video or software.”

Based on this general definition, specific points are listed to illustrate this:

  1. digital goods must be financially, technically and organizationally usable and changeable for all** people.
  2. passing on and preserving knowledge requires a design of digital goods that is open for the future and remains accessible.
  3. open formats, open standards and free licenses** are necessary to pass on knowledge and preserve it for future generations.
  4. accessibility to digital goods should be independent of financial wealth.
  5. knowledge about digital goods must not be held by just one person or organization, but must be distributed across many actors
  6. knowledge about the digital goods must be regenerable and reproducible.
  7. the redistribution, reuse and modification of digital goods must be technically and legally possible and promoted.
  8. digital goods (especially software) must be designed in such a way that they do not create dependencies on their producers and are transparent (source code) and trustworthy.
  9. meaningful structuring, modularization, documentation, accessibility and the most precise possible filtering of digital goods must be guaranteed.
  10. individual and social framework conditions and corresponding legal regulations must be created so that sustainable digital goods are promoted and preferred on a broad front.

The information on digital sustainability comes from the association LUKi e.V. (Linux users in the church sector).
https://digitale-nachhaltigkeit.net (external)
https://digitale-nachhaltigkeit.net/tiefer-gehen.php#zehngrundsaetze) (external)

Related topics: “Digital sovereignty” (external; Wikipedia)