[FOSDEM] Google, FSFE, safety of women and volunteers

Daniel Pocock daniel at pocock.pro
Mon Dec 21 18:11:16 UTC 2020

Hi all,

This month it appears that at least two women (I hope I haven't missed
any others) have spoken up about their experiences with Google and FSFE.
 FOSDEM has been accepting money from these organizations and maybe now
is the time to reject their sponsorship.  For those who don't know, FSFE
receives significant[1] funding from Google, a model that has been
compared to tobacco industry sock puppets[2].

Timnit Gebru was told to censor[3] a research paper.  She refused and
she was sacked.  She had the courage to speak up.

Susanne Eiswirt and Galia Mancheva were the only two female permanent
employees at FSFE.  According to another courageous blog[4], they spoke
about why women are paid less and they were almost immediately fired,
both of them.

The intimidation described in those blogs is comparable[5] to the
intimidation I faced after volunteers decided to elect me as a community
representative.  As I was never an employee of Google or FSFE, as I was
elected, they couldn't sack me.  After I resigned, they have been
spreading defamation, sabotaging my contributions to other projects like
Debian, sending me threats, just as described in Galia's blog.

I first met FSFE at FOSDEM.  I would hate to see any other visitor or
volunteer suffer what Galia and other people, especially women, have

During my time as fellowship representative, I frequently heard from
people who didn't just quit FSFE, they quit free software altogether
because their experience with FSFE was so bad.  It is the duty of any
elected representative to report that.

Many free software organizations made a big fuss about banning Jacob
Appelbaum yet /not one woman ever took him to court/.  While I don't
want to deter anybody with a genuine case from speaking up, I'm
convinced that at least some of the claims against him appear to be
exaggerated[6].  In comparison, multiple women have showed significant
courage facing Google and FSFE in the courtroom.  Therefore, should
Google, FSFE and Matthias Kirschner face the same treatment as Appelbaum
and be publicly shamed and excluded at every opportunity?



Debian Developer

1. https://fsfe.org/donate/thankgnus.en.html
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timnit_Gebru
4. https://write.as/malinagalina/i-took-fsfe-to-court

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