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: This old chestnut again
by Z_God on Sun 17th Sep 2017 08:44 UTC in reply to "This old chestnut again"
Z_God
Member since:
2006-06-11

It seems you are not familiar with publicly funded software development. In practice this software is developed and used for specific purposes within a governmental organization. When I asked at me previous job "why don't we publish everything as free software?" the main response was "yes, actually why not?".

In the past there would sometimes be parties in between (like Cap Gemini) that would arrange contracts in such a way that only they would be able to improve the software which was developed (any paid for) by the government. At some point the government became smart enough to prevent this by law which puts the ownership of publicly funded software with the government. They might as well release this source for everybody to look at. In practice this will mainly enable different governmental organizations to share their development more easily with each other because the amount of infrastructure needed will be reduced.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: This old chestnut again
by Sidux on Sun 17th Sep 2017 09:35 in reply to "RE: This old chestnut again"
Sidux Member since:
2015-03-10

Bringing in external consultants to do the job for you is not the best idea either, and in some countries, mostly due to personal data access concerns, this tactic is no longer accepted by the regulatory organisations, requesting for companies to have in-house development and support for this kind of projects.
The idea of having public code inside government is to have a team of specialists paid by the government to maintain the developed code and for others that have proper qualification to see it and come up with solutions in case problems are detected.
This however triggers the fact that all projects have to be made public (i.e there will no longer be any special deal done by companies to take on development for themselves).
This is where the politics usually come in. For many it's a nice source of money that will have to go away for the good of the country.

Edited 2017-09-17 09:36 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: This old chestnut again
by rom508 on Sun 17th Sep 2017 10:26 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.

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[3]: This old chestnut again
by Z_God on Sun 17th Sep 2017 12:46 in reply to "RE[2]: This old chestnut again"
Z_God Member since:
2006-06-11

So "publicly funded software" can imply different things


No it can't. It means software which is developed using tax money, so just your case 2.

Sharing softare between governmental organizations is not as easy as you think. It requires a complete security infrastructure if you want to do access control. I've never seen this in place.

I wonder what kind of software you imagine to be useful to Google and Facebook. We're talking about software here for taxes, public infrastructure, city administration, etc.

Your example doesn't make much sense, I've never heard of governments doing R&D and then filing patents for that. That's not really their job.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: This old chestnut again
by zima on Sun 17th Sep 2017 21:46 in reply to "RE[2]: This old chestnut again"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

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.

Your example is unexportable - the rest of the world drives on the other/correct side ofthe road! ;D

(and... euros? Pounds!)

Reply Parent Score: 3