[OT] FLOSS and government - is OSS the only reasonable software for a democratic government

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at gmail.com
Sun Mar 6 15:41:42 UTC 2005

Since it's OT I suggest that any discussion (on Ubuntu lists anyway)
go on in "sounder".

I found an interesting (but older) exchange between a Peruvian
Congressman and a GM for Microsoft regarding Peru's attempt at
creating an OSS law. I don't know whether Peru adopted it or not, but
the points raised are extremely interesting -- there's a compelling
argument to be made (most of us Linux users already know this but it's
not usually articulated this clearly) that an elected government can
ONLY use OSS and stay true.


FYI this is my favourite tid bit:

You end with a rhetorical question: "13. If open source software
satisfies all the requirements of State bodies, why do you need a law
to adopt it? Shouldn't it be the market which decides freely which
products give most benefits or value?"

We agree that in the private sector of the economy, it must be the
market that decides which products to use, and no state interference
is permissible there. However, in the case of the public sector, the
reasoning is not the same: as we have already established, the state
archives, handles, and transmits information which does not belong to
it, but which is entrusted to it by citizens, who have no alternative
under the rule of law. As a counterpart to this legal requirement, the
State must take extreme measures to safeguard the integrity,
confidentiality, and accessibility of this information. The use of
proprietary software raises serious doubts as to whether these
requirements can be fulfilled, lacks conclusive evidence in this
respect, and so is not suitable for use in the public sector.

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