Hi this is going to be an official account for in the future -please -source

@fosdem Hi there, welcome to the fediverse.

Who are your sponsors this year? Will you have the world’s #1 surveillance capitalist (Google) as your primary sponsor again?

What’s FOSDEM’s official stance on surveillance capitalism? Are you ethically/morally opposed to the business model of tracking/profiling people to manipulate their behaviour for profit or do you support it (being neutral in this, as in any situation of injustice, takes the side of the oppressor).

Look forward to your answer.

@aral We are a conference and platform for and about free and open source software. As such we welcome all free and open source developers from all over the world, regardless of their affiliation. We use donations to make this event possible. We aren't selective about sponsors and sources of donations, for sponsors have no influence on the selection of the contents for the event.

@fosdem That “free” word you keep using refers to “freedom”.

”We aren’t selective about about sponsors and sources of donations” is tone-deaf, reckless, & simply not acceptable in 2018 for any group that seeks legitimacy in the ethics of what they do.

Palantir develops open source ( and also helps ICE find & deport asylum seekers. By your (lack of) ethical standards, they would be welcome as a sponsor.

Please see and review your stance on this.

As long as @fosdem remains wilfully ignorant of the role they play in legitimising surveillance capitalism by ignoring the ethics of their sponsorship choices, I encourage any group who purports to care about human rights to boycott their event.

@indie and I will be boycotting it until such time as their policies forbid sponsorship by (and thus legitimisation of) surveillance capitalists like Google (their main sponsor last year), Facebook, and Palantir.


@aral @fosdem @indie You cannot be against surveillance capitalism, and then demand that surveillance and investigation happens. It is irrelevant that you want this to prevent the proliferation of surveillance capitalism. There is no way to prevent all financial transactions from the sponsors and donators without lowering yourself to their level.

@wodan @fosdem @indie What you just wrote is the largest pile of bullshit I read in quite a while. I am literally dumber for having read it. How do you equate not legitimising surveillance capitalism with surveillance capitalism itself. Truly amazing.

You can absolutely not take money from companies you are ethically opposed to and do not want to legitimise: it’s called having principles and a fucking backbone.


@aral @fosdem @indie It's perfectly fine to refuse to take money from companies you're ethically opposed to. But you seem to be unable to understand the concept of being neutral. Choosing is loosing.

@wodan @fosdem @indie Yeah, man (goodness, how I know you’re a man), neither I nor Desmond Tutu understand the concept of neutrality, which is why we are so blessed to have you, dear anonymous elephant, to explain it to us – thank your adorable trunk.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” – Demond Tutu

@aral @fosdem @indie Nice quote. But the jury is still out on the 'injustice' and 'oppressor' part. You could be right. You could also be wrong. Maybe you're only seeing the top of the iceberg, and the conspiracy goes way deeper. If you feel up to being the judge, that's fine. Just don't expect others to put 100% faith in your abilities.

Dear @how,

I would strongly urge the Decentralised Internet and Privacy track to reconsider its involvement in @fosdem unless FOSDEM takes a principled stance against surveillance capitalism and disallows sponsorship by (and thereby legitimisation of) surveillance capitalists like Google (their primary sponsor last year), Facebook, and Palantir.

@indie will have nothing to do with the event until such time.

I’d be happy to discuss organising our own event in Europe instead.


@aral @indie @fosdem @how Would berlin be an option if this does not happen? Around the same time last year some of us involved in gnunet and secushare (lynX and others) organized a day of talks and workshops there.

@ng0 @indie @fosdem @how I’d definitely be up for that. I want to see an international meet-up around this issue; I just don’t want it sponsored by (or legitimising) surveillance capitalists like Google.

@ng0 @aral @indie @fosdem

Well, Berlin is always an option, but it's very remote :)

@how @aral Berlin wouldn't be my first choice either, as I'm located in the Ruhrarea ;) Amsterdam, Brussels, local cities, all closer than Berlin.

@ng0 @how Amsterdam is easy for me to get to (direct flight). Plus lots of lovely folks there like Waag, De Balie, etc. Hmm… 🤔

@ng0 @aral @indie

Maybe we can do it in Brussels anyway, and why not at the same time as FOSDEM. That would take advantage of people's presence who are used to go there at this time of the year. FSPG Free Software People Gathering, not only developers. :)

@how @indie @fosdem PS. In case the thread isn’t showing for you:

This is FOSDEM’s stance on the issue. If Palantir wanted to be a sponsor, FOSDEM’s response would be along the lines of “Sure, sir. Right this way, sir. Thank you, sir.” Their current policy is that they’ll accept money from anyone, ethics be damned.

@aral @indie @fosdem

Wow, the responses show a complete lack of historical knowledge and political consciousness.

'Neutrality' works only among equals. When you're oppressed, neutrality is collaboration with the oppressor, @fosdem

When Microsoft acquires Github, IBM Redhat, etc., it's not neutral: it's a direct attack on the possibility to pursue the free software movement. Being neutral here is like waiting for the hammer to fall on your heads.

@aral @fosdem @indie

Note that I've seen an M$ presentation proposal, and it's not exactly welcome.

@aral @fosdem Looks like you're having issues with that "freedom" concept. It can apply to anything. You keep promoting one view. You consider your view to be the one and only. You have every possibility to use the platform to spread your view. I consider that freedom. If you want to push back against those that give you a platform, that's fine. It's your choice. But I think you're making an issue of a non-issue. Seems like a waste of efforts to me...

@wodan @fosdem What you call a non-issue is one of the primary reasons why we cannot effectively regulate surveillance capitalists: because people who don’t/won’t understand institutional corruption keep legitimising them (because, hey, why question where the money comes from, amirite?)

I understand the word “freedom” intimately: I understand it doesn’t mean remaining neutral in situations of injustice or implying some sort of relativism between those who protect it and those who restrict it.

@aral @wodan @fosdem Hey, you're making excellent points, but you could also block the concern troll and save your energy for talking to people who aren't annoying as hell.

@aral @wodan while I agree with you on Alphabet Inc. being the largest surveillance oppressor, I don't think that @fosdem is legitimising them. Unevitably, google is very present in many open source projects and wants to sponsor large FOSS events, as part of their openwashing and to drag attention away from the petabyte of mass-survelliance secret software they produce.

All viewpoints have always been welcome at the conf: there are always talks on sovereignity, de-googlification, copyleft...

@danielinux @wodan @bob

I mostly agree with @aral (maybe except on the tone: if we don't assume our intelocutors might might be right, why should they consider we could be right? I think we need to listen more carefully.. 😉 ).

NOTE that the @fosdem's position is pretty similar to that of #Stallman (see ), and I think that both are naively wrong: you cannot really optimize a single dimension in a complex dynamic system: the equilibrium is too unstable and unpredictable.

@danielinux @bob @aral @fosdem

Some toots ago @wodan wrote:

> Maybe you're only seeing the top of the iceberg, and the conspiracy goes way deeper.

I'd like you to elaborate.

What do you think it's happening under the hood?

I'd say that the tip of the iceberg is what most people see, free services and annoying nerds concerned with being tracked.

I think I have a pretty clear vision of the whole iceberg. But I like people challenging my vision. What's your take on these matters?

@aral @fosdem Aral, I think you missed the "and open source" part.

Free software and open source are two completely separate things. FOSDEM has things for both. Google, Microsoft, etc are very much a part of the open source world.

@jaywink @fosdem Maybe if they’re completely different things, we should stop lumping them together and thereby stop legitimising the part that doesn’t give a hoot about human rights or freedom.

@aral @fosdem well, in general, I don't think anyone who knows lumps them together. FOSDEM certainly isn't. It's just organizing a space that *both* are welcome to. That doesn't mean the organizers of FOSDEM are saying free software and open source are the same thing.

@jaywink @fosdem Like that Greenpeace Exxon Mobil conference. Got it!

@aral @fosdem TBH, it *would be* great to get Greenpeace and Exxon Mobil to the same conference, would it not?

@jaywink @fosdem Definitely. One where Exxon Mobil was called out for its abuses by Greenpeace and had to answer for them. Not one that whitewashed said abuses and legitimised Exxon Mobil by being sponsored by it.

@aral @fosdem Well, to be fair, FOSDEM is only the organizer. I'm pretty sure the FSF will call out the abuses of Google and Microsoft while at FOSDEM. And that is fine. I remember last year the talk by Framasoft. Man it was political. And that is fine.

But it's not the job of the people organizing to do the politics. Leave the discourse to the participants. FOSDEM just provides the venue. The money from sponsors makes the venue possible. It doesn't give the sponsors an edge on discussion.

@aral @fosdem maybe the FSF should sponsor FOSDEM to allow making it happen and we wouldn't need to have this discussion 🤔

@jaywink @fosdem Yeah, we don’t agree on that. When you brand something (F)OSS, it should come with a higher ethical standard. If it doesn’t, well, at the very least I won’t have anything to do with it.

Happy to agree to disagree. Have a good evening.

@aral @jaywink @fosdem the same intersectional spacr, Greenpeace + Exxon + indigenous/poc folks, to call attention Greenpeace's extreme and ongoing tonedeafness to the rights of indegenous folks and Greenpeace's own complicity in the environmental movement's straight neoliberal, colonial/imperalist and white supremacist/anti-black policies and self-serving "allyship" to the needs of indegenous and people of color...

Hm, I'm torn. On one hand it's still just money. Why not take it? Then again they're buying sympathy.
If it doesn't affect your values, though, why refuse? You can keep fighting against Palantir even when you take their money, probably actually better so ...

@solarkraft @fosdem Indeed, this is why Greenpeace gets hundreds of millions of dollars from Exxon Mobil. Oh no, wait, they wouldn’t be Greenpeace if they did. #PrivacyWashing #PR

Exxon Mobil has no incentive to give them money. But if they wanted to, why not? I'd be okay with Greenpeace having more money instead of Exxon Mobil keeping it.

@fosdem Hi there! nice to see a presence here. I'm probably coming this year, I'm pretty hyped about it :)

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