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Open Letter: Public Money? Public Code!

2017-09-12 21:25:00, 46halbe

More than thirty organisations ask to improve public procurement of software. The Chaos Computer Club is asking everyone to sign the open letter.

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.

We ask individuals and other organisation to sign the open letter. 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.

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.

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.

Links:

[1] Open Letter