2024 CEEP : Free Software and Open Data Chapter

Here is the Board’s Proposal for the 2024 CEEP’s Free Software and Open Data Chapter.

It will be put to vote in a motion at the 13th Council Meeting. Feel free to discuss it here or even submit counterproposals or amendments to the discussion here. Please note that although this discussion and thread is open to all pirates, final motions and amendments need to be supported and submitted by a Council Member though their delegates.

Free software and open data

Pirates support the promotion of software that can be used, analyzed, disseminated and modified by anyone. Free/Libre Open Source Software is essential for users’ control of their own technical systems and provides a significant contribution to strengthening the autonomy and privacy of all users.

Free Software, Formats, and Protocols in Public Administration

Citizens’ data must be processed, managed and secured with Free Software tools wherever possible. Proprietary software may only be used as long as Free Software cannot effectively be used for that specific purpose, and the option of creating such a piece of software is not viable.

Free Software reduces administrative costs, promotes local technical support and significantly strengthens security - for example, by allowing anyone to easily check for malicious, vulnerable or backdoored code embedded within software. We will drive the migration of the public sector to Free Software so that there is no longer a dependency on specific suppliers.

Citizens and businesses must never be forced to use proprietary software when dealing with public administration or any other communication with their government. It must never be based on proprietary forms of communication designed to only work with specific, usually non-free software. Instead, it must use open, interoperable, vendor-neutral protocols and formats.

Free software funding and development

Free software, a lot of which powers critical infrastructure, is often maintained by a few volunteers in their spare time. We want to provide funding to innovative open source projects, as well as contribute to existing free software development. This can, for example, include direct funding and organized hackathons.

We also plan to encourage member states’ governments to set up their own Open Source Program Offices (OSPOs). This will greatly enhance the ability to create and collaborate on free software that can be (re)used across the Union.

Finally, free and open source software development must never be held to the same obligations that proprietary software development is, and its developers cannot be held liable for damage linked to the free usage of their work.

Government-provided Software

Government-provided software, such as mobile ID cards, must be made functional on free and open source operating systems, including those not installed by default or officially supported by device vendors, wherever it is technically feasible. No artificial restrictions should be placed on this functionality. Furthermore, versions of the software should be made available for all major mobile platforms.

Software developed using public funds must be open source - “public money, public code.” However, if there is a valid reason for not disclosing the source code at a given time - such as a potential threat to national security - the code must be made public as soon as the reason no longer applies. We also suggest that the source code for such software be hosted by the corresponding country’s OSPO using Git or other similar software repositories.

To ensure broadest possible use and accessibility, we also recommend that governments license their software with a copyleft license. The software should also be compatible with all major operating systems on the platform it was designed for. Additionally, web-based programs should be designed to be portable and compatible with all major free and open source browsers, preferably respecting web standards as defined by the W3C.

Open data

Data are driving every decision in our society and there is now a huge asymmetry between governments, large companies and individuals.

We strive for a Freedom of Information Act at the European level that stands for an open and free access to all public data, fully anonymised in order to respect individual’s privacy, shared using an open and standard format, free of any charges and easily accessible to everyone.