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UN and EU urges legislators to support open source and open standards

by xavier last modified 2009-06-19 13:52

Times of economic crisis are an opportunity to review our societal models and take advantage of the latest innovation to foster the world economy. This article is an opportunity to remind that EU officials and United Nations share the same vision on the need to favor open source and open standard to foster economic growth and international collaboration.

Sources: UNU-Merit and International Herald Tribune

A year ago, in June 2008, voices were emerging to support open source and open standards. EU officials are calling for the necessity to fight for open standards and avoid unsafe monopolies, while the United Nations outlines the social aspect of open source software. Well beyond these issues, open source and open standards lead the way to a new model of society based on openness and collaboration.

European Union needs a vigor policy of open standards implementation

"I know a smart business decision when I see one - choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed," Neelie Kroes, the EU competition commissioner, told a conference in Brussels hosted by Open Forum Europe, a non-profit organization helping to accelerate, broaden and strengthen the use of open source software in business and government.

Open standards allow software companies to develop products that work seamlessly together with those of other companies, according to OpenForum Europe. The open source movement, which is different, advocates freely sharing the underlying code used for software, the group said.

In her speech, Kroes said there were serious security concerns for governments and businesses associated with using a single software supplier. EU agencies "must not rely on one vendor" and "must refuse to become locked into a particular technology - jeopardizing maintenance of full control over the information in its possession," she said.

Kroes said a policy adopted last year by the European Commission to promote the use of open standard software "needs to be implemented with vigor."

United Nations experts urges legislators to support actively open source

United Nations University researcher Rishab Aiyer Gosh urged policymakers to consider information and communications technologies from a social rather than technical viewpoint. He said access to the information society must be provided to all citizens, without requiring them to first become customers of particular proprietary companies.

"Participation in, not just access to, the information society is important" Ghosh told a United Nations event held in Geneva and attended by members of parliament from over 40 countries.  "Open source software gives people fishing rods, not just fish."

Open source a catalyst for innovation and socio-economic development

Zea Partners, an international network of open source companies, reminds the economic impact of open source software. According to the EU funded report Flossimpact, the open source economy represents over 565,000 jobs and €263 billion in annual revenues in the European Union. Decision makers should take into consideration these aspects when they make a technology choice.

Well beyond this economic impact, open source and open standards unlock the way to a real collaboration between organizations, regions and countries worldwide. They are the only realistic and efficient way to fight the digital divide and to allow emerging economies to benefit from IT progress. Xavier Heymans, CEO of Zea Partners, add: "Each government, business or association investing in open source and open standard is actually making a direct investment in international cooperation."