SecureDrop and Alexandre Oliva are 2016 Free Software Awards winners
The Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented to a project or team responsible for applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, to intentionally and significantly benefit society. This award stresses the use of free software in service to humanity.
This year, SecureDrop received the award, which was accepted by Conor Schaefer, Senior DevOps engineer for Freedom of the Press Foundation.
SecureDrop is an anonymous whistleblowing platform used by major news organizations and maintained by Freedom of the Press Foundation. Originally written by the late Aaron Swartz with assistance from Kevin Poulsen and James Dolan, the free software platform was designed to facilitate private and anonymous conversations and secure document transfer between journalists and sensitive sources. It has been used in newsrooms across the world, including the Intercept, Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Guardian, ProPublica, and the New Yorker.
In his speech, Stallman emphasized the importance of whistleblowers in the maintenance of a free society. "[SecureDrop] provides a necessary channel for whistleblowers to communicate through."
"At Freedom of the Press Foundation, we believe strongly that an obstinate and cantankerous press is fundamental to keeping populations informed and empowered," Schaefer said when accepting the award. "Secure and anonymous communication is more important today than ever before, and is vital for protecting high-risk individuals such as investigative journalists and their confidential sources.
"SecureDrop is one way we try to tackle that problem, by defending the right of the press to inform the public. The project is the result of hard work by security engineers and contributors in the free software community. Under the hood, it's a medley of free software tools, and could not exist without the vibrant free software movement to depend on.
"On behalf of Freedom of the Press Foundation, thank you, to everyone in the free software community, to those brave enough to fight to inform the public, and to the Free Software Foundation in particular. It's a privilege to work with you all. Keep fighting the good fight, we're right there with you."
The Award for the Advancement of Free Software goes to an individual who has made a great contribution to the progress and development of free software, through activities that accord with the spirit of free software.
This year, it was presented to Alexandre Oliva. An advocate of free software and the GNU Project, Oliva's impact has been felt far beyond his home in Brazil, from giving talks about free software to his role as maintainer of linux-libre, the fully free version of the kernel Linux. A leader in the robust Latin American free software community, he started a project to reverse engineer the proprietary software used by Brazilian citizens to submit their taxes to the government, giving people there the opportunity to complete this interaction almost entirely with free software, and offering inspiration (and free code) for those wanting to tackle this common issue elsewhere.
Stallman said that he is "especially impressed with [Oliva's] project Softwares Impostos. His project provides a free replacement for proprietary software required by the [Brazilian] government to submit taxes." Stallman praised the efficacy of Oliva's work and the dedication it showed to creating and maintaining software that has significant impact while respecting user freedoms. "In many years, he had his updates ready before the official software came out."
"I first met Richard 21 years ago," Oliva said. "That defined the rest of my life. I've shared his message—our message—since then and now I think I know that I've been doing it right."
About the Free Software Foundation
The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to
promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and
redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and
use of free (as in freedom) software—particularly the GNU operating
system and its GNU/Linux variants—and free documentation for free
software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and
political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites,
More information about the FSF, as well as important information for
journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.
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