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When you think of public infrastructure, most people think of streets, schools or hospitals. However, nowadays, increasingly public administrations tend also to think of software when it comes to "public goods" -- Free Software, to be precise. Digital services offered and used by our public administrations are the critical infrastructure of every democratic state in the 21st century. Cases like "WannaCry" or the recent hack of the election software in Germany show that governments are in urgent need to establish trustworthy digital systems in order to offer trustworthy and accountable public services . But, right now, this is rarely the case due to restrictive software licences that:
* Forbid sharing and exchanging publicly funded code. This prevents cooperation between public administrations and hinders further development.
* Support monopolies by hindering competition. As a result, many administrations become dependent on a handful of companies.
* Pose a threat to the security of our digital infrastructure by forbidding access to the source code. This makes fixing backdoors and security holes extremely difficult, if not completely impossible.
It is our deepest conviction that our public digital infrastructures are too important to be left to the discretion and control of a handful of companies. Together with an alliance of more than 100 organisations and more than 14.000 individuals, the Free Software Foundation Europe is calling governments from all over the world to support Free Software as a new standard for governmental digital infrastructure. Only by using Free Software in the public sector can we guarantee the freedom of choice, access, and competition, and can help public administrations regain full control of their critical digital infrastructure.
Our talk will highlight the current state of play regarding Free Software in public administrations all over the world. Recent results from parliamentary and freedom of information requests in Germany show that Free Software already plays an essential role in providing reliable digital infrastructure. We will present a variety of best practices, from examples of legislation, to promising Free Software projects developed by and for public administrations, that will prove that the claim "Public Money, Public Code" is not only wishful thinking, but a sound strategy that is already being adopted all over the world.
We will show a video made for this campaign by Alexander Lehmann and explain how everybody can contribute to support a fully independent, much more reliable and trustworthy public digital infrastructure. We will also highlight the next important steps on the legislative and political level that need to be taken by governments in order to achieve digital sovereignty, together with a set of current legislative issues on the EU-level that are noteworthy for this debate.
More information about this project:
* Campaign website: https://publiccode.eu/
* Freedom of Information requests and results : https://wiki.fsfe.org/Activities/PMPC
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