New Internationalist

10 steps to software freedom

December 2012

Charlie Harvey outlines 10 steps to software liberation and freedom on the internet.

1. Embrace free software
It costs nothing, is often more stable and sometimes works better. It also lets you see the code your computer is running, and change it if need be. Compatibility with other programs has greatly improved.

2. Get downloading
Give this software a whirl:
For browsing: Firefox
For secure web chat: CryptoCat
For word processing: LibreOffice
For graphic editing: GIMP

3. Start building
Help grow the free software community. You can report bugs, request new features, offer translation or design skills, or – if your inner geek is struggling to get out – write code.

4. Stay safe
Tor is a tool that anonymizes internet connections to allow free expression. Dissidents, who risk their lives to speak truth to power, use Tor as a way to side-step censorship and capture in repressive countries. Adding your traffic to the Tor server makes it harder for governments to crack down on online dissent:

5. Embrace free culture
More and more artists are releasing their work under free or open licences like those from Creative Commons.
Listen to their music, read their books, and donate funds to support a blossoming re-mix culture:

6. Say no to ‘DRM
You bought it, it belongs to you – yet 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 mess with your device remotely. Buy a New Internationalist DRM-free e-book!

7. Protect your mobile phone
More and more people are carrying phones which can do things like sell your geo-data to companies, be easily intercepted and lock-down your software. If you have an Android, that means you have a 95% free operating system that can add privacy tools from The Guardian Project to stop snooping governments and marketers.

8. Put trackers off the scent
Many websites carry advertising, social media widgets and profile audiences. Somewhere there’s a record of your seeking advice about your embarrassing medical condition, or evidence of your unsavoury political interests. Protect yourself from unwanted tracking and ads with browser plugins like Ghostery or AdBlockPlus.

9. Get campaigning
Software can’t go it alone. We need political change, better privacy and copyright regulation too. Join these groups and support the fight for a free internet:

10. Get savvy
Digital Survival Guide: Basic intro to computers, internet and mobile use.
Top 12 ways to protect your online privacy:
Browse a selection of privacy-enhancing, technical resources:

Slideshow photo: Vectorportal under a CC License.

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 458 This feature was published in the December 2012 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Never miss another story! Get our FREE fortnightly eNews

Comments on 10 steps to software freedom

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

  1. #1 Frodo9 23 Dec 12

    There's an improved version of this on his blog

  2. #2 David Ammouial 03 Jan 13

    You might want to suggest the only possibility of free-software-spirit money: Bitcoin.

  3. #3 ciderpunx 03 Jan 13

    Hey David,

    Great idea to mention [a href=’’]bitcoin as a way of using anonymous money. To be honest I'd not recommended it because I haven't really played with it much; be great if people had resources they could share in this thread.

  4. #4 Red Mind 28 Jan 13

    A useful and timely piece given recent reports about Washington trying to get itself an internet kill switch. Much of this won't protect against that of course!

  5. #5 John Sullivan 25 Jun 13

    The Free Software Foundation also campaigns for free software and against DRM:,

  6. #6 ciderpunx 25 Jun 13

    Thanks John; glaring omission on my part. The FSF rock :-)

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Features

All Features

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 458

New Internationalist Magazine issue 458
Issue 458

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.