The European chapter of the Free Software Foundation has decided to help people liberate their Android devices from various lock-ins created by handset manufacturers and apps. The idea of this liberation superimposes with various free software ideologies and this is the first formal step taken by any organization to make the Android platform free as in free speech, and not free beer.
The Free Software foundation Europe announced this wonderful campaign on their website.
Android is a mostly free operating system mainly developed by Google. Unfortunately, the drivers for most devices and most applications from the “market” are not free (as in free speech, not free beer). They frequently work against the interest of the users, spy on them and sometimes cannot even be removed. This campaign can help you to regain control of your Android device and your data. It collects information about running an Android system as free as possible and tries to coordinate the efforts in this area.
The campaign wants to liberate our phone on two levels. For the Android OS, the campaign recommends us to use Replicant OS, which is based on Android and is completely free. However, Replicant OS has minimal device support. Alternatively, we can use CyanogenMod, which is supported by many more devices.
To liberate our apps, the campaign points us to the F-Droid project, which is a repository for free apps without any proprietary code. The Android project has been touted as being open-source and free. However, the ground reality is that handset manufacturers do not give back their codes on time, and many proprietary apps run on Android without people knowing their inner technicalities and operations. It is only when someone looks for the pin in the haystack, that apps like CarrierIQ are discovered.
Even if this campaign does not succeed in “liberating” Android initially, it will create some awareness about the limited amount of control that Android users enjoy on their mobile devices. Nonetheless, this is a good beginning.