Monday, 04 July 2016 09:20

Linux Australia backflips on Appelbaum stance

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Linux Australia has done a backflip on its stance over privacy advocate Jacob Appelbaum who was recently thrown out of several software groupings following numerous accusations of sexual harassment.

On Friday, LA president Hugh Blemings issued a statement on the group's main mailing list, saying that Appelbaum would not be invited to the next Australian national Linux conference (LCA 2017) or to the next event on LA's calendar, its annual Python conference which is known as PyCon Australia.

On 22 June, Blemings had issued a statement saying that the organisation would not place any restrictions on Appelbaum's potential participation in any of its events until "facts in this matter become clear".

Exactly what prompted this volte face in the space of nine days is unknown. There have been no disclosures about Appelbaum in the last few days that could logically account for this change in LA's stance.

Blemings was forced to take up the issue for discussion at an LA council meeting on 21 June, a day after Russell Coker, a longstanding member of LA and the free and open source software community, suggested that Appelbaum, a keynote speaker at the LCA in 2012, be banned from future LA events.

In the statement announcing the change of policy, Blemings wrote that the earlier statement (on 22 June) "did not communicate our position effectively, and in some cases resulted in our commitment to safety at events being called into question. We apologise for creating this perception. This statement seeks to address that".

He said that the organisers of the LCA 2017 and PyCon had taken the decision to ban Appelbaum, based on reports on "various sources making and supporting the allegations" against Appelbaum.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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