Public Statement on Neutrality of Free Software

In the past week, a controversy around F-Droid took place at its forum and in the fediverse. We feel like we have to put out a public statement to clear F-Droid’s position on it.

To recap the situation: a website joined the fediverse only half a month ago that is well known to be a “free speech zone”, meaning it claims to tolerate all opinions. While in theory this might seem to be a good concept, it has serious consequences: things like racism, sexism, verbal abuse, violent nationalist propaganda, discrimination against gender and sexual minorities, antisemitism and a lot more things become popular on such instances. For good reasons, all these things are prohibited on the clear majority of instances in the fediverse. Because of this, yet even before mentioned website joined the fediverse, most instances already blocked it.

The developers of Tusky, one of the most popular app to access the fediverse on Android devices, decided to go a step further by implementing a mechanism that doesn’t allow to log into mentioned website. Fedilab on the other hand decided not to implement such a mechanism, stating that it’s ineffective (more on this below) and that a tool’s developer should not decide which people are allowed to use it.

F-Droid as a project soon celebrates its 9th birthday. In these 9 years, F-Droid’s mission was and is to create a place where people could download software they can trust – meaning only free, libre and open source software is available on its flagship repository. As a project, it tried to stay neutral all the time. But sometimes, staying neutral isn’t an option but instead will lead to the uprise of previously mentioned oppression and harassment against marginalized groups. We don’t want and won’t support that. F-Droid is taking a political stance here.

F-Droid won’t tolerate oppression or harassment against marginalized groups. Because of this, it won’t package nor distribute apps that promote any of these things. This includes that it won’t distribute an app that promotes the usage of previously mentioned website, by either its branding, its pre-filled instance domain or any other direct promotion. This also means F-Droid won’t allow oppression or harassment to happen at its communication channels, including its forum. In the past week, we failed to fulfill this goal on the forum, and we want to apologize for that.

Nous pensons que les plates-formes telles que le dépôt de F-Droid ou les instances fediverse doivent être modérées afin d’empêcher toute forme d’oppression et de harcèlement de s’étendre. Nous pensons cependant qu’il faut faire la différence entre les plates-formes et les outils. De par sa nature même, le logiciel librepar définition permet aux utilisateurs “d’étudier le fonctionnement du programme, et de le modifier pour qu’il fasse votre travail informatique comme vous le souhaitez”. Pour cette raison, toute restriction implémentée dans le logiciel libre est fondamentalement inefficace, car les gens peuvent modifier le code source et supprimer ces restrictions. Nous respectons la décision de Tusky de bloquer le site web mentionné ; c’est leur droit d’introduire de telles restrictions dans leur logiciel. Nous respectons également la décision de Fedilab de ne pas coder en dur un bloc de connexion ; au lieu de cela, ils travaillent activement à faciliter le blocage de certains domaines dans l’application elle-même et donnent ainsi aux utilisateurs plus de pouvoir pour modérer le contenu qu’ils verront. Si les gens ne sont pas d’accord avec la décision de F-Droid de ne pas signaler Fedilab, une idée est de développer un système d’étiquetage décentralisé basé sur des identifiants de paquets qui permettent aux serveurs tiers de partager leurs propres alertes avec leur communauté.