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Interview: Eben Moglen

Eben Moglen will give a talk about "Why Political Liberty Depends on Software Freedom More Than Ever" at FOSDEM 2011.

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I'm a lawyer, computer programmer and historian. I work at protecting freedom in the world of 21st century digital technology. I've spent the last twenty years working for free cryptography, free software, free culture and free bandwidth. I believe civil and political freedom depends in digital society on technological freedom. I founded the Software Freedom Law Center as an institution within whose context I can teach other lawyers to assist and strategize for the movement.

What will your talk be about, exactly?

I don't know yet. I'll figure that out just before I start talking.

What do you hope to accomplish by giving this talk? What do you expect?

I hope to communicate with people who are also committed to the movement for technological freedom, to express my own insights into the current situation, and to spark responses from them that will teach me new things and help me to do a better job.

What specifically do you currently consider the biggest threat to software freedom?

I'm not sure. Currently, governments are very eager to control the Net, which is a disaster for freedom. Industry is responding to the mobile computing revolution by trying to lock down the devices people use in their daily lives. And powerful industrial players who make money by surveilling people and data-mining the resulting information are encouraging more people to give up their basic privacy for small, if not meaningless, benefits. All are large threats to freedom, and if our strategies worked against only one or two such threats, we could still fail.

At FOSDEM, you are probably preaching to the choir. How would you convince the man or woman in the street that software freedom is important for their political liberty?

I think the metaphor of "preaching to the choir" may be misleading. I will be speaking to knowledgeable people already somewhat activated. That isn't the "man or woman in the street," but it isn't merely singing in church, either. Let's say that I will be talking to the team of which I am a member about the work we do together.

What are you doing now during your sabbatical leave?

Running the Software Freedom Law Center full time, and thinking about what will happen in the next two to three years.

Creative Commons License
This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License.