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You are here: Home FSF News SecureDrop and Alexandre Oliva are 2016 Free Software Awards winners

SecureDrop and Alexandre Oliva are 2016 Free Software Awards winners

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Mar 25, 2017 07:11 PM
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Saturday, March 25, 2017 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced the winners of the 2016 Free Software Awards at a ceremony held during the LibrePlanet 2017 conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). FSF President Richard M. Stallman presented the Award for the Advancement of Free Software and the Award for Projects of Social Benefit.

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."

Richard M. Stallman stands to the left of the photo. He has long grey hair and a grey beard. He is wearing a red polo shirt, and a green lanyard with a LibrePlanet conference badge. Conor Schaefer stands to the right. He is taller than Richard. His hair is dirty blond--and tied into a bun. His beard is brown and grey. He is wearing a grey shirt, a grey hoodie, and a green lanyard. He is holding a Free Software Award.

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."

Richard Stallman stands on the left. He is wearing a red polo shirt. He has long grey hair and a long, grey beard. Alexandre Oliva stands to his right. He is holding a Free Software Award--a plaque. He is wearing a green shirt, a tan jacket, and glasses. They both look very happy.

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, located at and , are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at

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Free Software Foundation
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