[FSFE PR][EN] Public Money? Public Code! 31 organisations ask to improve public procurement of software

press at fsfe.org press at fsfe.org
Wed Sep 13 10:55:44 CEST 2017

 = Public Money? Public Code! 31 organisations ask to improve public
procurement of software =

[ Read online: https://fsfe.org/news/2017/news-20170913-01.en.html ]

Digital services offered and used by public administrations are the
critical infrastructure of 21st-century democratic nations. To establish
trustworthy systems, government agencies must ensure they have full
control over systems at the core of our digital infrastructure. This is
rarely the case today due to restrictive software licences.

Today, 31 organisations are publishing an open letter [1] in which they
call for lawmakers to advance legislation requiring publicly financed
software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free
and Open Source Software licence. The initial signatories include CCC,
EDRi, Free Software Foundation Europe, KDE, Open Knowledge Foundation
Germany, openSUSE, Open Source Business Alliance, Open Source
Initiative, The Document Foundation, Wikimedia Deutschland, as well as
several others; they ask individuals and other organisation to sign the
open letter [2]. The open letter will be sent to candidates for the
German Parliament election and, during the coming months, until the 2019
EU parliament elections, to other representatives of the EU and EU
member states.

    "Because the source code of proprietary software is often a business
    secret, it radically increases the difficulty of discovering both
    accidental and intentional security flaws in critical software.
    Reverse engineering proprietary software to improve or strengthen it
    is an absolute necessity in today's environment, but this basic
    technical requirement is unlawful in many circumstances and
    jurisdictions. With critical infrastructure such as hospitals,
    automobile factories, and freight shippers having all been brought
    offline this year due to flaws concealed within proprietary
    software, unauditable code is a liability that states can no longer
    subsidize with special legal privileges without incurring a cost
    denominated in lives.

    Right now, the blueprints for much of our most critical public
    infrastructure are simply unavailable to the public. By aligning
    public funding with a Free Software requirement -- "Free" referring
    to public code availability, not cost -- we can find and fix flaws
    before they are used to turn the lights out in the next hospital."
    says Edward Snowden, President of the Freedom of the Press
    Foundation about the "Public Money Public Code" campaign [3] launch.

Public institutions spend millions of euros each year on the development
of new software tailored to their needs. The procurement choices of the
public sector play a significant role in determining which companies are
allowed to compete and what software is supported with tax payers'
money. Public administrations on all levels frequently have problems
sharing code with each other, even if they funded its complete
development. Furthermore, without the option for independent third
parties to run audits or other security checks on the code, sensible
citizen data is at risk.

    "We need software that fosters the sharing of good ideas and
    solutions. Only like this will we be able to improve digital
    services for people all over Europe. We need software that
    guarantees freedom of choice, access, and competition. We need
    software that helps public administrations regain full control of
    their critical digital infrastructure, allowing them to become and
    remain independent from a handful of companies," says Matthias
    Kirschner, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

That is why the signatories call on representatives all around Europe to
modernise their digital infrastructure to allow other public
administrations, companies, or individuals to freely use, study, share
and improve applications developed with public money. Thereby providing
safeguards for the public administration against being locked in to
services from specific companies that use restrictive licences to hinder
competition, and ensuring that the source code is accessible so that
back doors and security holes can be fixed without depending on only one
service provider.

    "Public bodies are financed through taxes. They should spend funds
    responsibly and in the most efficient way possible. If it is public
    money, it should be public code as well!", says Kirschner.

 == Further information ==

- Open Letter [4]

- Sign the Open Letter! [5]

- Video (3:47) in different formats [6] (licensed under CC-By 4.0 ), or
  also for embedding on Vimeo [7] and Youtube [8]

 == The initial signatories ==

- April: https://www.april.org/
- Associação Ensino Livre: https://ensinolivre.pt
- Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL): https://ansol.org
- Chaos Computer Club (CCC): https://www.ccc.de
- Courage Foundation: https://couragefound.org/
- D3-Defesa dos Direitos Digitais: https://direitosdigitais.pt/
- Digitalcourage: https://digitalcourage.de/
- Digitale Gesellschaft: https://digitalegesellschaft.de/
- Dyne.org Foundation: https://dyne.org
- ePaństwo Foundation: https://epf.org.pl
- European Digital Rights (EDRi): https://edri.org
- Expose Facts: https://exposefacts.org/
- Free Software Foundation Europe: https.//www.fsfe.org
- GFOSS: https://gfoss.eu/
- HackYourPhD: https://hackyourphd.org/
- KDE: https://ev.kde.org
- Linux User Group Of Slovenia (LUGOS): http://www.lugos.si
- Linuxwochen: https://www.linuxwochen.at/
- Modern Poland Foundation: https://nowoczesnapolska.org.pl
- quintessenz: http://quintessenz.at
- Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland: https://okfn.de
- Open Labs: http://theopenlabs.org
- Open Rights Group: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/
- Open Source Business Alliance: http://osb-alliance.de
- Open Source Initiative (OSI): https://opensource.org/
- openSUSE: http://opensuse.org
- Public Software CIC: https://publicsoftware.eu/
- Software Liberty Association Taiwan: https://slat.org/
- The Document Foundation: https://www.documentfoundation.org
- Wikimedia Deutschland: https://wikimedia.de
- Xnet: https://xnet-x.net/

  1: https://publiccode.eu/openletter/
  2: https://publiccode.eu/#action
  3: http://publiccode.eu/
  4: https://publiccode.eu/openletter/
  5: https://publiccode.eu/#action
  6: http://download.fsfe.org/videos/pmpc/
  7: https://vimeo.com/232524527
  8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuVUzg6x2yo

  == About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  Free Software Foundation Europe is a charity that empowers users to
  control technology. Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our
  lives; and it is important that this technology empowers rather than
  restricts us. Free Software gives everybody the rights to use,
  understand, adapt and share software. These rights help support other
  fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, press and privacy.

  The FSFE helps individuals and organisations to understand how Free
  Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination.
  It enhances users' rights by abolishing barriers to Free Software
  adoption, encourage people to use and develop Free Software, and
  provide resources to enable everyone to further promote Free Software
  in Europe.


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