It's that time again. All the holiday decorations are out on full display. Ads are thrown across every screen, each one trying to convince you how much you need that new device. They're ready to give it to you at a cut rate, too, since they want to let you know how much your friends and loved ones need the same tech gadget in their pocket, lap, or monitoring their living room. But is the gift that you're about to give (or splurge on for yourself) respectful of a person's right to freedom? For the last thirteen years, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published our Ethical Tech Giving Guide as a way to guide concerned individuals towards gifts that do not deprive them of their freedom. The right to determine what a device you've purchased does or doesn't do is something too valuable to lose. It's the difference between having control over your digital life or having someone else control you.
Freedom is the best gift you can give, and the one that keeps on giving. Taking your first steps to freedom often doesn't just help you win back your digital autonomy: it provides an opportunity for you to deepen your relationship with the ones you care about through a shared experience, and inaugurates you into a worldwide community of users. If you're already technical and committed to furthering free software, we've also included a short list of devices that need developer attention to clear the last hurdles to freedom that stand between the chips they employ and full acceptability.
This year's Guide is replete with recommendations on DRM-free media for you and your loved ones to enjoy. In the time you have to yourself this holiday season, or your beach vacation to recover from it, consider going through a small (if invisible) stack of DRM-free ebooks. If you're the type to read with a soundtrack -- or who needs one to get through the season -- our DRM-free music recommendations are there for you as well. As publishers and storefronts putting out these works are increasingly fewer and further between, we encourage you to support them.
Taking a step forward
The Giving Guide is a helpful and practical tool we create every year to highlight issues with technology that other tech gift guides don't even touch, such as "does the gift maintain the recipient's freedom to share?" Can you support this effort as an FSF associate member? You can start for as little as $10 per month ($5 for students), or $120 per year. With your support, we can continue to show people how the freedom to share can affect change in all areas where software touches modern life. Besides that, your membership gives strength to the idea of free software. Plus, your membership will count towards achieving our fall goal of 455 new associate members before December 31, and you will be eligible for this year's snazzy and secure webcam cover when you join as an annual associate member at $120 or more. You'll also be able to enjoy all the member benefits, which include merchandise discounts, a 16GB bootable membership card, and use of our associate member videoconferencing server. And it's also worth pointing out that an FSF associate membership makes a great gift for any occasion.
Please do take the time to share the Guide with the people you care about. More importantly, we hope that you'll commit to moving forward on your own individual journey to freedom. In our experience, one of the best ways to persuade others to use free software is simply by using it yourself, both by setting a moral example and showing those around you all that software freedom does for you. In the face of so many new and seemingly "dazzling" devices, the holiday season is one of the best times to get the free software message included in the conversations that happen around the kitchen table.
No matter if or how you'll be buying gifts this year, always keep in mind that retaining your freedom is the greatest gift of all.
Illustration Copyright © 2022, Free Software Foundation, Inc. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.