[en] FSFLA News - Issue #16

Alexandre Oliva lxoliva at fsfla.org
Thu Nov 2 03:22:21 UTC 2006

Issue #16
November, 2006

1. Editorial: Campaign against "Softwares Impostos"
2. (GNU)^2 initiative
3. Events
4. Participate in FSFLA

1. Editorial: Campaign against "Softwares Impostos"

On October 15, 2006, FSFLA launched a campaign against "Softwares
Impostos" in Brazil [CSI], inviting citizens and taxpayers to write to
the president requesting measures to ensure they wouldn't have to give
up their freedoms to interact with the government, in particular, to
fill in their tax forms.  "Impostos" means both "taxes" and "imposed"
in Portuguese.

Our arguments are based on the constitutional principles established
for the public administration, and we have reasons to believe they may
apply in other countries as well.  If you can confirm that the law in
your country imposes such limits on what the government can do, please
bring it up on legales at fsfla.org, such that we can launch a similar
campaign there.

Timing was a bit unfortunate, because the presidential elections
dominate the news in Brazil, but there was little time to act if
taxpayers were to be able to comply with their obligations in freedom
next year or even the following year: some tax programs to be used
throughout the year are published in January.  Fortunately, even
though the campaign started slow, we're told it has already started
having positive effects within the government (we shall mention and
thank Ada Lemos, our ally in Brasilia, for her work) and the reelected
president's IT proposals for the next administration [CvD].
International news certainly helps [NwF].  Time will tell.

Even though we'll expose our arguments based on the specific case of
the tax programs, keep in mind that they apply to any interaction
between government and citizens or taxpayers.

The Brazilian Federal Constitution [BFC], in Article 37, determines
that the public administration must comply with the legality
principle.  Article 5 sums it up: "Nobody will be required to do or
not do something except by force of law."  There isn't any law that
requires taxpayers to use proprietary software to fill in their tax
forms, therefore this requirement is unconstitutional.

In fact, the very use of the software infringes upon article 9 of
Software Law 9609/98 [SwL], that states that, in order to run a piece
of software, you need a license or a proof of purchase.  Software
distributed by Receita Federal (Brazilian IRS) has neither, therefore
its use is illegal, and Receita Federal is demanding taxpayers to
break the law.

Most such software is available for MS-Windows and Sun Java 1.4.1.
This infringes upon the impersonality principle because it favors a
few specific vendors: the implementors fell in the Java trap [JvT] and
used internal classes of Sun's implementation, not present in the
specification.  This abuse even fails to comply with Receita Federal's
own decision [RFD], which doesn't mention Sun's JVM as a requirement.
If it were possible to run the program on Free Software platforms, no
specific vendor would be favored, because anyone could offer support
and services for such platforms.

Another problem is the lack of transparency, that infringes upon the
publicness principle.  Article 5.XXXIII of the Constitution grants
citizens access to the source code of these applications,
documentation about its file formats and network protocols, since
their secrecy is not justified by a matter of society or state
security [ScL].

Lack of permission to port the software to other platforms, to adapt
it to suit users' legitimate needs or even to make it more friendly or
more convenient, or to hire third parties to do so, infringes upon the
legality and efficiency principles, since anyone might wish to do
voluntarily what the government doesn't do, or pays to have done.

This means Free Software running on Free Software platforms, using
open and unrestricted standards, protocols and file formats, are the
preferred way to comply with the Constitution, and this is what the
campaign against "Softwares Impostos" fights for.

Join us!  If you are Brazilian or pay taxes in Brazil, send your
letter to the president, with a copy to softwares-impostos at fsfla.org.
Look for similar principles in the legal systems of other Latin
American countries and let us know what you find out at
legales at fsfla.org.

[CSI] http://www.fsfla.org/?q=en/node/120

[CvD] http://www.convergenciadigital.com.br/cgi/cgilua.exe/sys/start.htm?infoid=4906&sid=7
(in Portuguese)

[NwF] http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/06/10/24/2050209.shtml?tid=136&tid=150&tid=110

[BFC] http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/br00000_.html (in English)
(in Portuguese)

[SwL] https://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/Leis/L9609.htm (in Portuguese)

[JvT] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/java-trap.html

[RFD] http://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/legislacao/Ins/2006/in6222006.htm
(in Portuguese)

[ScL] https://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_Ato2004-2006/2005/Lei/L11111.htm
(in Portuguese)

2. (GNU)^2 initiative

In order to increase FSFLA's contact with communities and activists
committed to the Fee Software ideals in all Latin-American countries,
we launch the (GNU)^2 or GNUGNU initiative: GNU National User
Groups. [The acronym works in Spanish and Portuguese, but not in

Even though FSFLA intends to work in all of Latin America, volunteers
in our workgroups have concentrated in a few countries.  Besides, Free
Software User Groups have remained more distant from FSFLA than we'd
like.  Since user groups have always had a very important role in
disseminating Free Software, we want to offer these Free Software
groups some space at FSFLA to share ideas and experiences and
strengthen links and initiatives.

Through this initiative, we intend to establish contact with existing
Latin-American organizations, committed to the ideals of the FSF
worldwide network, and/or foster and support activists who'd like to
create them.

If you are a Free Softweare activist in Latin America and would like
to work in such an initiative in your country, or if you're already
part of a Latin-American user group committed to the Free Software
philosophy, subscribe to gnugnu at fsfla.org, express your interests,
watch out for previous and subsequent messages from activists in the
same country and get join forces.

Even though it's not strictly necessary that groups in this initiative
be country-wide, we encourage the use of this space as a way to get
different groups together, thus strengthening the Free Software
community in Latin America.

3. Events

Federico Heinz, Juan José Ciarlante and Beatriz Busaniche participated
in VI Jornadas Regionales de Software Libre (Regional Free Software
Summit) in Mendoza, Argentina, on October 13-15, lecturing on GPLv3,
DRM and the SELF project.  http://jornadas.lugmen.org.ar/

Alexandre Oliva participated in the IV Fórum de
Software Livre do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro's Free Software
Forum), on October 16-20.  During this event, he took part in a debate
about GPLv3 and Creative Commons and presented various lectures about
Free Software philosophy.  http://www.forumsoftwarelivre.org.br/

He and Pedro Rezende participated in the the III Fórum Cearense
de Software Livre (Ceará's Free Software Forum) with various lectures
on Free Software philosophy, electronic voting and problems with the
Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program.

As part of the MABI workshop: Monopolios Artificiales sobre Bienes
Intangibles (Artificial Monopolies on Intangible Goods), Enrique
Chaparro and Pedro Rezende participated in a panel on patents;
Federico Heinz participated in a panel about Copyright, access to
culture and Free Software community, and Beatriz Busaniche
participated in a panel on convergence of social movements.  The event
took place in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on October 26-29.

Beatriz Busaniche, Enrique Chaparro, Federico Heinz and Juan José
Ciarlante will attend CaFeConf in Buenos Aires on November 10-11.

Alexandre Oliva will lecture about Free Software at the Brazilian
finals of ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, that takes
place in Rio de Janeiro on November 10-11.
http://maratona.ime.usp.br/ http://www.dcc.ufrj.br/~maratona/

Alexandre Oliva will represent FSFLA at the 5th International GPLv3
Conference in Tokyo, Japan, on November 21-22, speaking about Free
Software activities in Latin America.  http://gplv3.fsij.org/

On November 25, Alexandre will speak at UNINOVE, Campus Vila Mariana,
in São Paulo, lecturing on Free Software, game theory, competition and

Richard Stallman, founder and president of FSF, North-American FSFLA's
sister, will visit Colombia in December.  On December 1-5 he'll be in
Bogota; on 6-7 in Guayaquil, and 9-13 in Quito.  More details will be
at fsfla.org as we obtain them.

4. Participate in FSFLA

FSFLA is constantly seeking for people interested in working in our
various workgroups, listed in http://www.fsfla.org/?q=en/node/121.

If you have an idea of a workgroup that FSFLA should set up, please
bring it up at the discusion at fsfla.org mailing list.

Alexandre Oliva

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