Open Source: EU EIF Ruling Jilts Proprietary Software Vendors

Open Source: EU EIF Ruling Jilts Proprietary Software Vendors

first_imgIn mid-December the European Community ruled on their policy for evaluating software to be used in the transfer of data between the member nations.  The new rules are strongly tilted in favor of open source solutions.The document is called the European Interoperability Framework (EIF).  The framework is announced as one component of the five-year Digital Agenda and the eGovernment Action Plan.  The goal of the policy to to be able to develop efficient European cross-border data transfer and communication.  This is also a central goal of the Europe 2020 policy. Unlike other rules in the EU, this one does not require approval of the European Parliament or member states.Prior to the announcement, there was strong lobbying from big software vendors.  Microsoft, SAP, Dell, Adobe and HP and other members of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) argued that rather than expressly endorsing “open specifications” that software used by the EU should be evaluated on the basis of Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms.  The BSA argued that open specifications would end up stifling competition.  “If the EU adopts a preference for royalty/patent-free specifications, this undermines the incentives that firms have to contribute leading-edge innovations to standardization – resulting in less innovative European specifications, and less competitive European products.”On the other side of the debate, companies in the group Openforum Europe like Google, IBM, Oracle and Red Hat advocated that the EU adopt a strong policy of open specifications.  The “EIF will help public authorities escape from the sort of technology lock-in into one single vendor that until now has been the norm across Europe,” argued the group.In the end, the text of the ruling was fully supportive of the use of open specifications. “Due to their positive effect on interoperability, the use of such open specifications has been promoted in many policy statements and is encouraged for European public service delivery.  The positive effect of open specifications is also demonstrated by the Internet ecosystem.”But there were cracks in the policy that gave a nod to proprietary vendors.  The ruling said that “Open specs should be favoured due to their positive effect on interoperability, however, public administrations may decide to use less open specifications, if open specifications do not exist or do not meet functional interoperability needs.”  It goes on to say that specifications that will be adopted must be  “mature and sufficiently supported by the market.”last_img

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