As campaigners who care about privacy and freedom, we believe in the importance of free software to our movement – software that is free in cost, and also free 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 free CryptoParties to teach members of the public, activists and journalists how to use free software, including digital privacy software, to benefit them in their everyday lives. You can find out more about this on our events page. 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.
Secondly, we want to run our organisation as much as possible using free and open-source software and so we use 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 and David Sutherland.
Reckon Digital helped us to design and implement a completely renewed local network infrastructure that is as free, secure, and agile as possible. 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
To keep costs to a minimum, existing hardware was refurbished and reused. We opted for a thin-client infrastructure, with a large part of the computational load managed by a central server
Reckon Digital is a London-based software development company. Its team creates state-of-the-art business software solutions and provides consultancy in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Experience Design, Innovation, and Security. Its clients include global companies and large organisations within manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and NGOs.
Reckon Digital builds complex and scalable applications, mostly using the Python programming language and its rich ecosystem of libraries. It does 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 within universities.