Devroom proposal


Title of devroom:

Decentralized Internet and Privacy

Elaborate description of proposed devroom (including possible topics):

The Free Software movement initial promises were to empower individuals and the collective when it came to computing. Three decades later, computing practices are tightly coupled to the Internet ecosystem. PCs are less and less used while smartphones are soaring and data is collected and stored on servers on which we have very limited control as users. What happened to user’s freedom and privacy in the meantime? The outlook is not so great: we have less and less control over our digital environment. Network neutrality is heavily attacked and mainstream software products are usually proprietary or run on servers we don’t have control over. This month, again, copyright laws have been modified to leverage the centralized Internet giants and better control their users. Modern technology has given the powerful new abilities to eavesdrop and collect data on people - with critical social and political consequences.

Possible topics:

The 2018 edition of the Decentralized Internet and Privacy devroom was very well attended and appreciated. Most talks had the room fully packed and the room was never less than half full.

2018 testimony and blog posts

2018 edition microbloging demonstrating success

The following projects may be interested in submitting proposals for presentations should the devroom be accepted:

Why does it fit FOSDEM?

  • Free Software contributors are given an opportunity to understand and participate to globally useful projects
  • The challenges can be explained to a very technical audience able to provide suggestions and ideas
  • Successful Decentralization and Privacy protection need to be provided by Free Software
  • Projects share a common goal and would get an opportunity to meet

Preferred slot

  • Saturday, Full day


Primary contact:

  • Loïc Dachary loic at (or someone else if someone is willing)

Submitter’s affinity to the topic of the devroom:

Loic is a full time volunteer, developer of the Enough project, helping HRD, sources and journalists communicate securely and privately.

Secondary contact:

  • Pierre Ozoux pierre at ozoux dot net
  • hellekin how at zoethical dot com
  • natouille at user-agent dot fr

Additional information

Relevant URLs

A number of volunteers are ready to help organize the talk selection as well as the devroom logistics. They are organized at

Special requirements:

Last year devroom (H.1301 (Cornil)) fitted the crowd quite nicely but we had to refuse people because the room was full on four occasions. A bigger room would resolve that problem.

Our preference is for a full day on Saturday.

If possible, we could also use the full Sunday for additional presentations and activities, maybe in another room of roughly similar size if one is available.

Fosdem 2019 devroom proposal
#2 may have ideas for more orgs/projects interested. He is busy right now but available to discuss next week (after Monday 10th, September).


As stated on this message, we should also look for some more diversity.

The best way to have more diversity during the day is to invite more diverse speakers to apply. I’ll see what I can do.

Where can people apply for the devroom? Should we reuse the previous email address or have a new one?


I’ve updated the category description to clarify the key dates. For now we’re kindly requesting a devroom (the proposal must be sent before September 20th) and (should it be accepted) people will answer the Call for Paper between October 16th and December 15th.

While at the Nextcloud conference in Berlin last month, Marie suggested it would encourage diverse people to apply if the Call for Paper could highlight that there already are diverse people who declared their intentions to apply. Do you think it makes sense?


@how and the collective indeed, thanks for the edit :slight_smile:


Preferred slot: only Saturday?

I’d go for both Saturday and Sunday.

P.S.: I also added myself as secondary contact.


Ok. Let’s be ambitious :sunny: Feel free to edit the description accordingly.


One topic keeps coming during my discussions with hackers. I would use Vincenzo Tozzi’s concept of Eventually Connected Networks to describe it: the Internet moved from a commons to a war zone between corporations and nation states. What happens when a nation state attacks another, crumbling down their Internet connections? How can software engineers think about making not-always-on software that is resilient to network failure, like Git or Briar


@pierre @how I’m listed as primary contact which means (as far as I understand) I’m committed to respond promptly to messages & be reachable by phone at all times. It is a janitorial role. In that spirit, the secondary contact will have the same burden should I be indisposed at the last minute. Does that match your understanding and if it does are you cool with that?

@Natouille would you also agree to be a secondary contact? The organization only asks for one when submitting the proposal but it’s good to have more IMHO :wink:


@loic Sure :slight_smile:
Need an email or so ?


Yes. You can create one for the occasion if you’re uncomfortable displaying your own.




Salut @Natouille, je suis très heureux de te compter parmi nous. J’espère que tu vas pouvoir nous aider à bouleverser le déséquilibre de la représentation des femmes au FOSDEM. Il me semble primordial d’accéder aux réseaux féministes pour rétablir un tant soit peu d’équilibre dans cet univers fortement masculin. Pour ma part je vais tâcher de présenter à Etc. et inviter nos amies à venir prendre le micro.


It’s only 8 days left. Should we make some live call to share feelings and ambitions, or do you prefer keeping it asynchronous?


Are you sure you don’t want to ask for a bigger room ? I was there and I saw a full full full room and a lot of people waiting outside, hoping to have the opportunity to get in. I know, I was lucky enough because some friends saved me a seat, but outside, there were at least 50 to 60 people expecting (testimonies above prove that).
Can’t we try to get a bigger place ? We can argue that a bunch of FLOSS code is nothing without a free Internet and guarantied privacy.

My 2 cents


I’m conflicted about that and this is indeed an important question, thanks for raising it! Here is my humble reasoning (subjective, non-scientific approach ;-):

  • Pros:
    • well situated (building H is easy to find and attracts a larger audience),
    • acoustic is good,
    • it is a great feeling for a speaker to have a full or near-full room,
    • a full room is quiet (no noise of people entering late)
  • Cons:
    • light is not so good (videos show speakers in the dark),
    • on two occasions (I was standing at the door all afternoon, not sure about the morning) we had to decline entrance to some people,
    • there needs to be two person standing at the doors at all times to politely refuse entrance

I tend to prefer the room we had last year but … what about a poll to decide?

  • same room (capacity ~200 seats)
  • bigger room

0 voters

Who's volunteering for what?

This is probably something we can fix with a couple of light projectors.

BTW, I am in Brussels, so I’ll probably check with the organizing team directly and can ask.


One thing to keep in mind for next edition : the news.
Between GDPR and the vote at the EU this week (article 13 and so), we have a lot to talk about I would say, and lots of people interested (I hope).


What about … announcing news in between talks while the room is rotating (i.e while people exit and other enter) ? Like a three minutes news flash. Just a (possibly horrible) idea to make things interesting instead of just rumbling chairs…

Maybe the devroom proposal should be amended with a reminder about the copyright directive as well as the proposed regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online, as two prominent examples of the ongoing problems we are working to fix?


I think we should organize round tables. Probably reduce the one-to-many presentation format and have round tables involving actors from around the scope: developers, journalists, users, designers, community managers…