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Amid NSA Scandals and Revelations Delhi Government and European Governments Are Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

Posted in Site News at 8:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A torrent of migrations and policy changes (facilitating imminent migrations) serve software freedom, not just in lip service but also in practice

TIMES are exciting for Free/libre software, especially if you work with the public sector (as my wife and I do). Governments are rapidly moving towards software that can be audited, partly motivated by scandals that revolve around pricing/lock-in, privacy, and digital autonomy (independence from developers abroad).

To give some recent examples of success stories and transformations, the Delhi government is about to switch to Free software following Stallman’s visit [1] and the German state of Schleswig-Holstein is following the footsteps [2] of Munich [3,4], which now uses GNU/Linux, not just Free software. Moving a little southwards, Regione Umbria (Italy) is moving to Free software [5], probably for financial reasons [6] and also a desire to conform to new policies [7-10]. Even here in the UK, which has traditionally been Microsoft-friedly, pro-FOSS policies are being made stronger [11-12] and it shows (hawks in Ireland get slammed for going the opposite way [13]).

Looking more broadly and generally, Red Hat recently wrote about “an open source policy that works in practice” [14] and Red Hat deserves credit for approaching politicians on these matters, making a real difference and inducing change. In European Parliament itself there are already changes under way [15] to address ill dependence on proprietary software that facilitates spying. After European parliamentarians found out that they had been spied on by the NSA, who can blame them? It’s espionage. No government should ever use proprietary software; it’s not just about transparency and savings (accountability to the public) but also national security. How can a nation depend on secret code from another country, or even secret code from a private company therein/within?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Delhi government to switch to free software

    Delhi: Delhi government is set to opt for free software. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held initial discussions with free software guru Richard Stallman. The meeting was facilitated by Joseph C Mathew, former IT advisor to the Chief Minister of Kerala V S Achuthanandan, before he was shunted out falling foul of the powerful official faction of the CPI {M} in Kerala. The first phase will be introduced in the education sector. Significantly, this new initiative follows close on the heels of Kejriwal’s announcement that monopolies will not be allowed in the retail sector. Stallman said that he shared the philosophy of the Aam Aadmi Party.

  2. More and more open source in Schleswig-Holstein

    The German state of Schleswig-Holstein is gradually increasing its use of free and open source. “The use of this type of software solution has increased over the last years, mostly in the area of web and application servers”, a state spokesperson explains. ” We still rely on closed-source products as they are required for specific governmental applications.”

  3. Summing Up Munich’s Migration To GNU/Linux
  4. LiMux – the IT evolution – An open source success story like never before

    In a process spanning ten years the Munich city administration has migrated from a proprietary, vendor-locked IT structure to a free, open-source and flexible Linux-based solution. Although this could save the municipality millions of Euros, other reasons and benefits make the changeover even more attractive.

  5. Regione Umbria awarded for the migration to LibreOffice

    LibreUmbria, the migration project of Regione Umbria to LibreOffice, has been awarded a prize for innovation – for metholodology and process – as one of top 10 Italian government projects in 2012/2013.

  6. The Italian Diet Crisis
  7. Italy is latest to promote open source software in public procurements

    In December, the Italian government issued final rules implementing a change to procurement law that now requires all public administrations in the country to first consider re-used or free software before committing to proprietary licenses. Importantly, the new rules include an enforcement mechanism, which can, at least in theory, annul decisions that do not follow these procedures.

  8. Italy puts Free Software first in public sector
  9. Italy posts benchmark open vs closed software

    The Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale (AGID) on Wednesday posted the criteria and guidelines on how to compare open source and proprietary software. The document is to help public administrations to give priority to free and open source solutions, and to the re-use of software paid for by public administrations. As part of the preparation, AGID during the past year held several meetings with industry experts, including free software specialists.

  10. Italian govt agencies to consider Free Software before commercial software

    The Italian Digital Agency has recommended that its government’s agencies consider Free Software alternatives before purchasing licenses for commercial software.

    Recommendations like this tend to come from European governments, never from government agencies over here in our America, even though it will save a ton of money.

  11. Freedom In Software And Hardware At The UK Cabinet Office
  12. First steps on the Cabinet Office technology transformation journey

    Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has led the drive to change how technology is used across government, yet he has acknowledged that the IT used by staff in his own department is poor.

  13. Fine Gael calls for open source browser crackdown

    Irish politician Patrick O’Donovan of the Fine Gael party has called for a crackdown on open-source browsers, calling them a gateway to an ‘online black market’ filled with ‘illegal goods such as drugs, weapons and pornography’ – but may, perhaps, be merely confused as to his terminology.

  14. An open source policy that works in practice

    While many customers are aware of open source software and encourage its use, they are also wary of intellectual property contamination—which is alright and understandable. There are customers who do not want to be bothered regarding each and every tool used, while others are extremely concerned and put every open source tool or program through an approval process. The policy can be tuned as per each customer’s preference. For example, a set of commonly used tools may be listed and pre-approved in the Statement of Work or other agreement prior to the start of project.

  15. EP Green/EFA to use open source to secure email

    The Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament “is reaching out to the Free Software community”, in order to achieve trustworthy email encryption, the group announced this weekend. The political block objects to the mass surveillance by companies and governments, as disclosed the past year by Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the US’ National Security Agency. The group is starting a test, laptop computers running a tailored version of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution.

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