Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Sep 2017 21:20 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source

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 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.

Good initiative, and a complete and utter no-brainer. Public money, public code.

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RE[2]: This old chestnut again
by rom508 on Sun 17th Sep 2017 10:26 UTC in reply to "RE: This old chestnut again"
rom508
Member since:
2007-04-20

Why don't we publish everything as free software? Well for the same reason that you wouldn't pay a mortgage on your house for 25 years and then give the house away into public domain. It is about ownership and control.

So "publicly funded software" can imply different things:

1. Commercial "off the shelf" software packages are already available, no need to develop and debug anything, support is also available. Public money is used to purchase such software, which may be much cheaper and quicker than developing your own from scratch. Access to source code can also be available via NDAs, etc. so governments can use their own independent consultants to verify software is free of bugs and back doors.

2. Bespoke software is needed, so governments use public money to develop new software from scratch. They own the software and source code. Sharing code within the same government is not an issue. Instead of putting source code into public domain for everyone to use and abuse, government can commercialize it and sell various IP to private firms and foreign governments. So instead of giving away freebies to Google and Facebook, government compete with them and make a lot of money which goes back to public services.

So for example, if UK government spend billions of euros on developing AI algorithms and infrastructure for driverless cars and is 10 years ahead of everyone else, why give it all away to other rich countries like US? UK should patent and export this technology and make money which will be used for the benefit of British tax payers.

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