The EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, publicly supported the use of open source software in eGovernment, in a public speech at a seminar hosted by OpenForum Europe in Brussels on 10 June 2008.
The Commission must do its part. It must not rely on one vendor, it must not accept closed standards, and it must refuse to become locked into a particular technology – jeopardizing maintenance of full control over the information in its possession.
This view is born from a hard headed understanding of how markets work – it is not a call for revolution, but for an intelligent and achievable evolution.
But there is more to this than ensuring our commercial decisions are taken in full knowledge of their long term effects. There is a democratic issue as well.
When open alternatives are available, no citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to use a particular company’s technology to access government information.
No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one, through a government having made that choice first.
These democratic principles are important. And an argument is particularly compelling when it is supported both by democratic principles and by sound economics.
I know a smart business decision when I see one – choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed.