Free software

As campaigners who care about privacy and freedom, we believe in the importance of free software to our movement – software that is free as in cost, but also free as in liberty.

Free software is software that users can freely run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve. The source code is publicly available to view, change and copy. This is unlike widely-used proprietary or closed source software, provided or sold by companies and governments who might seek to restrict and monitor us.

Free software is about having control over the technology we use in our homes, schools and businesses, where computers work for our individual and communal benefit.

For Big Brother Watch, our support for free software influences our internal and external work.


Firstly, we organise monthly CryptoParties to teach members of the public how to use free software, including digital privacy software, to benefit them in their everyday lives. We also periodically train at-risk human rights campaigners, activists, journalists and lawyers to protect their communications using free software too.

Our CryptoParties are free and open to all, including digital privacy workshops, talks and debates on topical issues. We were honoured to host a talk by father of the free software movement and President of the Free Software Foundation Dr. Richard Stallman at our CryptoParty in February 2018.

You can follow CryptoParty London on Twitter for updates about our events, or sign up to our newsletter.

Living our values

Secondly, we want to run our organisation as much as possible using free and open source software. This year, we adopted a bespoke Linux based network for our office and staff. This was thanks to the fantastic help of London-based software development company Reckon Digital – in particular, Director Fabio Natali (who co-organises CryptoPartyLDN) and David Sutherland.

The explanation below is by Fabio Natali, with some technical details about how he and his colleagues have helped us to adopt a network that is as free, secure and agile as possible.

We helped Big Brother Watch with the design and implementation of a completely renewed local network infrastructure. The following principles and priorities were followed.

  • Whenever possible, use free and open source technologies, such as the GNU/Linux operating system
  • Security and privacy by design
  • Ease-of-maintenance and flexibility
  • Extensive documentation

To keep costs to a minimum, existing hardware was refurbished and reused. We opted for a thin-client infrastructure, with large part of the computational load managed by a central server.

Reckon Digital

Reckon Digital is a London-based software development company. We create state-of-the-art business software solutions and provide consultancy in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Experience Design, Innovation, and Security. Our clients include global companies and large organisations within manufacturing, healthcare, finance and NGOs.

We build complex and scalable applications, mostly using the Python programming language and its rich ecosystem of libraries. We do consultancy work in the area of information security and we organise information security workshops for corporate clients as well as for journalism organisations, NGOs, and in universities.

More information on Reckon Digital is available at You can reach us via email at