Today, the German Corona-Warn-App was released as Open Source Software. You may know it as CWA. The journalists mostly received it positively, even those of Spiegel and Welt. The German government wanted to release it as open-source software. That should increase the acceptance of the app by the German people. Unfortunately, there is still some skepticism. Let me comment on some of these concerns:
- Some people say the CWA is not open-source software because it uses the (closed) API offered by Google or Apple. But the government has released the system under the terms of an officially approved open-source software license (Apache v2). And even Richard Stallmann published his Emacs as free software, although it used the underlying Unix system libs.
- Others state that one cannot trust the Corona Warn App because it nevertheless can secretly transmit protected data. But the principles of openness and voluntarism prevent this abuse. You can verify that the code does not do anything forbidden or undesirable — by analyzing the publicly accessible code. Additionally, no one enforces us to use this app: you decide whether you install the app or not, you decide whether you make your illness known or not, and you decide whether you call for notifications of illness or not.
- Finally, some assume that the corona warn app system later secretly will become a general tool of the Government to monitor the contacts of its citizens. But for doing so, the Governments must at least publish the apps themselves in the official Google and Apple stores. Thus, the skeptics can them with the binaries compiled on the base of the code in the publicly accessible repository: If there is a (big) difference, the reviewer would notice, that there is something strange
Hence, we may trust this work, and we should use it for preventing us from overloading our health system.
And in what way is this …
… part of the overarching topic FOSS ? Well, my professional life is dominated by free software and open source compliance. But sometimes I find more offbeat tools that are still worth sharing — at least with my forgetful future ‘me’. To whom I like to recommend — for example — suitable, advanced editors. Or ancient preparatory work. Or some free music editors for compositoy work. But with some posts, I just want to remind my later ‘me’ of attitudes, points of view, and attitudes. So that I don’t fall behind myself. That’s what it’s about in here too.