FSF Giving Guide: It's the thought that counts, so think freedom

Even though we're still in the midst of the pandemic, the holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the time people around the world give gifts to show their appreciation. Companies are starting their sales early this year, and as usual are focusing heavily on tech gifts. But before you buy anything, you should make sure that that gift isn't putting your friend or family member under unjust control.

Each year, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) publishes a new version of our Ethical Tech Giving Guide as a way to help concerned individuals make sure that the presents they plan on giving their loved ones don't come with dangerous consequences for their freedom. Many of these devices have been through our Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification program, meaning that they and the retailers that offer them have been held to the highest scrutiny when it comes to matters of software freedom.

In the last year, some of the devices on this list have become scarcer, highlighting the pressing need for more hardware that is compatible with a fully free system. Some devices we recommend may only be available from a certain retailer. While it may not be readily available in local stores, offering a gift like the Libiquity Taurinus X200 is perfect for someone who has just become aware of free software's importance and is interested in going further, or for the free software activist in your life who would love for you to support a company trying to do the right thing. Even better, by avoiding popular but ethically unacceptable devices from manufacturers like Apple, you're letting your loved ones know that you care about them too much to compromise their freedom. By choosing a device like the upcoming Librem 5 mobile phone from the Giving Guide, you're walking a different path from everyone else, choosing the road to freedom instead of subjugation.

Next steps

The Giving Guide is our way of giving people concerned for their freedom a practical way to spread the message to others. Will you help us spread the message of freedom by becoming an associate member today? Your associate membership helps us defend everyone's freedoms against the largest corporations and governments on the planet, who do not hesitate to violate ethical principles in response to pandemic-driven technology needs. Achieving our fall fundraising goal of 500 new associate members will be an important next step forward. Plus, becoming an associate member will give you the gift of our member benefits, including our new free "as in freedom" video conferencing server so you can stay in touch with your friends.

We also encourage you to share this Guide with your friends and family. Use the hashtag #UserFreedom on your favorite microblogging site to help spread awareness on the issue.

We've all seen how the novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted our freedom. Many are now dependent on proprietary software for remote education, or as part of working remotely. Choosing a gift from the Giving Guide and using it to tell others about the importance of their freedom can go a long way in combating this. By selecting a gift that puts your loved one's freedom first, you are -- most importantly -- treating your loved ones with respect. You are also helping to spread the message and inform a wider audience than ever before about the vital role the free software movement plays in a modern digital society.

Whether or not you're celebrating a holiday this winter, we hope that you'll take the time to share the Guide with your friends and family. Now is the time to share resources like this one, as large retailers like Amazon are already starting their Black Friday sales. Once it's safe to resume meeting in person, we also encourage you to use the printable version of the Guide as a practical way to get conversations on freedom started. Even now, maybe there are local takeout businesses that will let you leave a stack out for patrons to browse while they wait. If you think of a creative way to share the Guide, have a success story, or have any feedback on how we can improve our suggestions, don't hesitate to write to us at campaigns@fsf.org. These steps toward freedom might seem small now, but we've seen how small steps taken by our global community have made a sustained and positive impact on freedom for all. The Giving Guide is just one example of this, and with your help, we can help make the holiday season free for all.

Illustration Copyright © 2020, Free Software Foundation, Inc. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.