France votes to expand open-source use

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Eric Pouhier\Wikipedia\CC BY-SA 2.5

French voters voiced strong support for a proposal that will see the country’s government expand the role of free and open-source software in a national referendum on technology called the Digital Republic bill.

More than 147,000 people voted on the Digital Republic bill’s 662 accepted proposals, and two open-source measures were the second- and third-biggest vote getters. One proposal called for France’s schools and universities to use GNU/Linux software, and end Microsoft’s dominance in the sector, while the other was a more general call for the government to embrace free and open-source software in its operations. (The leading proposal was one urging the government to clear the regulatory field for the eSports industry.)

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Other big vote-getters covered some of the Internet’s most contentious issues, as measures to protect personal data, Net neutrality, and the right to encryption all made the top 10. The Digital Republic bill was open to changes for a period of 20 days, and it now goes to a French high court, followed by the Cabinet, for final approval.

The measures won’t change things overnight, of course, and their language merely calls for the government to “give priority” to free and open-source software, but the French free software advocacy group APRIL, which had lobbied for the proposals, said that they were both important, and, moreover, very French.

“Free software is the computer embodiment of our republican motto, ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,’” the group stated in its proposal. “Citizens cannot be restricted in their dealings with public services by technological confinement.”

France, as Softpedia notes, is the second national government in Europe this week to make a public move in the direction of open-source – the U.K. has announced that it will make the switch to LibreOffice for government use, moving away from its long-time relationship with Microsoft. Many of the most prominent users of open-source software for end-users are European governments at various level – the German city of Munich is a well-known example, as is the Spanish region of Extremadura.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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