How to be free

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How to be free

Charlie Harvey tells us about 10 steps to software freedom on the internet.

1. Use free software

It costs nothing, it is often more stable and it sometimes works better. It also lets you see the code your computer is running, and change this code if necessary. Free software is now far easier to use together with other programs.

2. Download this software

Try these:

For browsing: Firefox

For secure web chat: CryptoCat

For word processing: LibreOffice

For graphic editing: GIMP

3. Be active and creative

Help the free software community to grow. You can report bugs, request new features, offer to do translation or design, or – if you’re good at coding– write code.


4. Stay safe

Tor is a tool that makes internet connections anonymous to allow free speech. Dissidents, who speak against their government and risk their lives to speak the truth, use Tor to avoid censorship and imprisonment in some countries. If more people use the Tor server, this makes it more difficult for governments to find the people who speak against them:

5. Use free culture

More artists are releasing their work under free or open licences like those from Creative Commons. Listen to their music, read their books, and make donations to support this growing re-mix

6. Say no to ‘DRM’

You bought it, it belongs to you – but you don’t control it. Publishers can stop people from sharing e-books – and music – using Digital Rights Management. DRM adds malicious software into your e-book reader that lets the book publisher change your reader remotely. Buy a New Internationalist e-book with no DRM!:

7. Protect your mobile phone

More people are carrying phones which can do things like sell your geo-data (information about where you are) to companies, be easily intercepted and lock-down your software. If you have an Android, that means your operating system is 95% free, and it can add privacy tools from The Guardian Project to stop governments and businesses from looking at your information.

8. Don’t allow anyone to follow what you do

Many websites have advertising and social media widgets and they make a profile of people who read them. Somewhere there’s a record of when you asked for advice about your embarrassing medical condition, or when you were interested in an embarrassing political case. Protect yourself from unwanted tracking and adverts with browser plugins like Ghostery or AdBlockPlus.

9. Start a campaign

Software can’t do anything alone. We need political change, better privacy and regulation of copyright too. Join these groups and support the fight for a free internet: Electronic Frontier Foundation Open Rights Group Liberty Index on Censorship

10. Learn more

Digital Survival Guide: Basic intro to computers, internet and mobile use.

Top 12 ways to protect your online privacy:

Look at these technical resources that make your internet use more private:

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: