Just like its sister organisations, Free Software Foundation Latin America's (FSFLA) main goal will be to promote and defend the freedoms and rights of software users and developers, specifically the freedom to write, use, redistribute and modify all the software they use.
FSFLA will foster the participation of regional actors in the global context, in order to help safeguard Free Software's legal and philosophical framework. It will act in joint concert with the other FSFs (Free Software Foundations) to promote and defend Free Software, as well as to follow and influence public policies related to it.
Towards those ends, FSFLA will:
Spread and promote Free Software as a concept, according to the FSF's definition.
Participate and influence public policy decision-making processes that concern Free Software, so that they will reach conclusions that support Free Software's philosophy and principles.
Defend the rights of Free Software users and developers, offering education and legal support regarding use, development, distribution and defence of Free Software, and especially software distributed under the FSF's own licences.
Help all kinds of endeavours, public or private, whether entrepreneurial, cooperative, individual or collective, which seek to consolidate new business or operating models based on Free Software.
Foster Latin American developers' active participation in the development, improvement and adaptation of Free Software programs.
Dialogue with governments in the region to encourage them to adopt Free Software as a matter of public policy, and to help them give this policy an appropriate legal framing.
Encourage educational institutions to use exclusively Free Software in all instances in which pupils are expected to use computers.
In order to understand Free Software's importance to society, users and developers need to have broad knowledge of the meaning and consequences of software's legal aspects. Thus, disseminating this knowledge among people contributes to the main objective of getting ever more people to use, develop and redistribute Free Software.
At all levels of regulation, from technical through legal measures, from local to global forums, decisions are being made that concern people's rights in the digital age, in particular the freedom to write, use and share free programs. These regulations range from the deployment of DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) to the practices of many government agencies that require the use of proprietary software in order to interact with them electronically. From negotiations on the patentability of software ideas to the legitimacy of computer programs that can decode certain data formats, the freedom to write and distribute free programs is in jeopardy. The defence of the rights of users and developers would be woefully incomplete without a serious engagement in these issues.
Free licenses, specially GPL (GNU General Public License) and LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License), are frequently the target of attacks all over the world. These attacks mostly come in the form of misinformation that aims at creating fear and doubt about their applicability. Users and developers will benefit from FSFLA's work diluting fears, clearing doubts, strengthening and giving legal backing to the licensing model which forms the foundations upon which the community rests.
For users and developers to keep their freedom in the long term, it is important that Free Software continues to demonstrate that it is a sustainable model for a community of software users. Thus, supporting the search for sustainability models is a significant contribution to the freedom of users and developers.
The vision put forth by the proprietary model is that software is an industrial product that is bought in its final form, and is to be used only as the developer made it. In contrast to this image, FSFLA will promote the participation of Latin American developers in Free Software projects to practically demonstrate the philosophy that software is a cultural technique, which must be free for anyone to learn and practise. When people see more of their own neighbours taking part in Free Software projects, it will become easier for them to understand that we are all invited to participate in its development, whether directly by writing code, or indirectly by asking or paying others to do so. This change of attitude, from passive users to co-responsibles for the development and maintenance of free programs, enables users to better understand the virtues of Free Software's social system. The participation of Latin American programmers in the development of Free Software projects will result in more Free Software for everyone, and is the preferred means for Latin Americans to exercise the skills needed to write, improve and adapt the software we use.
When governments use software, they do so in order to process, store and transmit data that belongs to the citizens, on whose behalf they are acting. Each time a government forfeits its freedom, it does so in the name of its citizens, thus betraying their trust, and denigrating with its example the value of freedom and independence. When it uses non-free software to process sensitive data its citizens are required by law to provide, the public administration puts the security and persistence of the data at jeopardy, as well as its own sovereignty. The natural counterpart to the citizen's obligation to provide the data is the commitment on the part of the government to submit the processing of this data to the same level of transparency and public scrutiny as the rest of its governance acts. This can only be achieved with Free Software. Encouraging governments to adopt policies based on Free Software is a way to promote independence, freedom and transparency in the public administration.
Education should not be exclusively about facts, but also about values. When educational institutions use non-free software, they are communicating antisocial values: the idea that software must not be shared, that there is knowledge that belongs to others, which we don't have the right to learn, only to "consume". Those to which this message is conveyed will stand little chance to enjoy and defend rights they are unaware of having. FSFLA must thus promote an educational model based on software as a cultural technique and in the principles of freedom and cooperation, essential values of the Free Software philosophy.