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Governments Increasingly Leaning Towards Free Software in the Wake of NSA Scandals and Economic Pressures

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software at 10:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New examples of governments’ embrace of Free/libre software, despite bribes from software oligarchs like Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle

NOT only South Korea ponders a migration to freedom-respecting software. Quietly (for fear of interference from software oligarchs) some governments around the world are moving to Free/libre programs, one program/piece at a time. Several people have told us that they are aware of this happening in Finland and it sure is happening in the UK. Among the migrations that we are publicly told about here are some that made headlines.

We previous wrote about what Microsoft was doing in Hungary (Ballmer got egged there for corruption) and now there are signs of an Hungarian shift towards Free/libre software [1], based on this English translation. There was something similar happening in Polynesia, where the same source says activists worked to make a difference and “the local Linux Users’ Group had distributed 5000 CDs” [2]. Watch how GNU/Linux usage soared to double-digit (%) figures. In the United States, as one might expect, things are a bit more murky [3,4] as proprietary software oligarchs have a lot of influence (they usually come from there and they have moles in positions of power).

In the UK, the Universal Credit chief cannot keep lying [5], so moves to Free/libre software are seen, echoing what we see in Budapest (Hungary) [6]. We previously compared the UK and HU (Hungary) policy, saying that it was not being actively followed. This in itself is a form of corruption. There are a couple of new articles in europa.eu about Hungary’s slow embrace of Free/libre software [7,8]. This is a logical move [9], which is being followed by south American countries [10], US allies like Australia [11], and even the US itself [12] (to a limited extent, usually in the military industrial complex which wants real security only for itself). Over in the government France, where mischief is seemingly more common than people care to realise [13], there are sign of progress also [14].

Given these slow strides towards software freedom it is easier to become optimists and hope that within a few years taxpayers will get to see (and use or even redistribute) the software that are paying for. For the public sector the rules should be very different from whatever applies to private businesses. Governments, for example, are liable if not indebted to the taxpayers. Citizens’ interests and collective will should drive procurement. We now know (with evidence) that Microsoft bribes government officials in exchange for pricey deals (IBM and Oracle also got caught), so we expect many deals to be signed for the benefit of corrupt politicians, not the nations which they claim to represent.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The Latest Hungarian Revolution
  2. The FIght For Free Software In French Polynesia

    It may seem strange to think of war in a tropical paradise but it’s happening, thanks to M$’s global conspiracy to prevent free use of personal computers. In 2008, the local Linux Users’ Group had distributed 5000 CDs of FLOSS and caused quite a spike in usage. Wintel fought back but today

  3. Open-Source Benefits to Govt Outweigh Misconceptions, Report Says

    Security challenges, lack of education, interoperability concerns and licensing and legal concerns are some of the top obstacles government officials see for adopting open-source software in agencies, according to a survey in a recent report from GovLoop.

    In the survey of 233 government professionals, 73 percent mentioned security issues, 60 percent lack of education, 58 percent interoperability concerns and 50 percent licensing and legal concerns. They survey focused on U.S. respondents but also included some respondents from outside the U.S.

  4. Koha wins trademark stoush with US defence contractor

    After a protracted legal battle, the Horowhenua Library Trust, the birthplace of the open source Koha integrated library system, has succeeded in preventing an American defence contractor from poaching its trademark.

  5. Open source ‘wasn’t available’ two years ago, says Universal Credit chief

    The head of delivery for the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) flagship welfare reform project, Universal Credit, has said that the department didn’t adopt open source and web-based technologies at the beginning of the project because “such things weren’t available” two and a half years ago.

    Howard Shiplee told the Work and Pensions Committee this week that the department is now using open source technologies in its enhanced version of Universal Credit, which was initially developed by the Government Digital Service (GDS) and will be rolled out nationally by 2017 for most claimants.

    The existing system being used in pathfinder pilots and developed by the likes of IBM, HP and Accenture will be largely be replaced by the digital version.

  6. Budapest District Loves FLOSS
  7. Budapest district debunks misgivings over open source

    Habits and anxieties are holding back public administrations from switching to free software, says Tivadar Karay, head of the IT department of the 18th district of Budapest. The district commonly uses this type of ICT solutions, and has been for the past five years: “For pretty much everything, there is an open source alternative. Fear is unnecessary.”

  8. Hungary’s open source centre kicks off website

    The Hungarian government’s resource centre on open source unveiled its new site in mid-November, kicking off the next phase in the centre’s activities, focussing on information dissemination. Last week the centre organised its first conference in the capital Budapest, opened by Gábor Fekete, deputy secretary of state. In the next few weeks, the centre’s six staffers will be travelling around the country, presenting on the advantages of free and open source in the country’s largest cities, Győr, Szeged, Debrecen and Pécs.

  9. Using Free/Libre Open Source Software Is A “No-Brainer”

    It’s obvious but there are still some people who don’t understand that FLOSS is the right way to do IT:

    Using software you can run any way you want is the right way to do IT.
    Using software you can examine in detail to see how it works is the right way to do IT.
    Using software you can modify is the right way to do IT.
    Using software you can distribute is the right way to do IT.

  10. Roundup: Ecuador open-source software, Brazil antitrust, Venezuela TDT applications

    An open-source software forum has been held in Ecuadorian capital Quito, with a focus on how governments in the region can collaborate to develop open-source…

  11. Open source option wins WA cloud deal

    The Western Australian Institute for Medical Research will today take ownership of a private cloud solution built almost entirely of open source technologies to prepare for an influx of researchers over the coming weeks.

  12. Federal Agencies Embracing Use Of Open Source Software Code

    Federal agencies that previously relied on expensive, built-to-order software are now following a growing trend to embrace open source code.

  13. French agency caught minting SSL certificates impersonating Google
  14. French Isère department encourages open source use

    The Isère department in France’s Rhône-Alpes region is encouraging its public administrations to use free and open source software. In October, the Secretary-General of the prefecture sent a letter to all local authorities. The letter included a warning to make sure procurement requests do not include discriminatory requirements.

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