Microsoft lobby plafform "Voices for Innovation", which is managed by APCO (a well-known lobby firm of which Microsoft is a client) and which was used during the OOXML fiasco, has sent an alert to their corporate members asking them to lobby against a parliamentary resolution led by Rocard-Cotigny-Geremek-Geremek, which is asking to migrate the European Parliament systems to FLOSS, and to give some funds for R&D of open source products in Europe. Here is the mail:
From: Voices for Innovation [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 22. september 2008
Subject: Policy Alert: Open Source activists secure close to 100 signatures in effort to mandate OSS
Open Source activists secure close to 100 signatures in effort to mandate OSS
Over the past few weeks radical elements in the open source community have intensified their efforts in the European Parliament. They are attempting to significantly change the existing public procurement framework, which follows a policy of technology neutrality, by introducing an open source software preference.
The Parliament’s current approach reflects a much more balanced view, as it uses both proprietary and open source technology. The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs overseeing the Parliament’s IT spending follow the clear line that the Parliament’s IT procurement choices must be based on reasonable and objective criteria, such as “interoperability, cost/value for money, reliability, vendor support, ease of use and security”, thus ensuring the best value for tax payers money. If the Parliament moves away from this established policy we must fear that the choice available to both citizens and institutions will be significantly reduced, limiting the functionality and user-friendliness of the European Parliament’s portals.
Next week their efforts will intensify further, as they are planning to approach Members of the European Parliament with the view of signing and supporting a draft entitled “Written Declaration on the use of Open-source software”. The draft has been tabled for consideration by MEPs in May and calls on the Parliament to migrate its entire computer network to Open Source software as a means to tackle the digital divide in Europe. Open Source proponents need to collect signatures of the 50% +1 Members of the European Parliament by next Thursday. At the moment they are far from reaching that number – clearly as many of the MEPs have seen through the ploy of masking an attempt to change the procurement policy of an institution, with a cause benefiting the disadvantaged members of our society.
It is unclear how the proponents of this draft Declaration draw a link between implementing an ‘Open-source software only’ policy in the European Parliament and confronting the challenges of the digital divide. The major challenges of the digital divide are widely regarded to be the consequence of limited access, poverty, social exclusion, personal factors (age, disability) or education and skills gaps. The exclusion of proprietary software models could potentially result in a significant increase of people without access to technology – thus achieving the exact opposite of what they set out to do - increasing the digital divide in Europe.
In order to address these challenges, governments, industry (including proprietary and OSS vendors) and civil society are already working together to drive greater awareness of the benefits of technology and investing in e-skills and education across the populations – see for example the European Alliance on Skills for Employability. The main goal of the Alliance is to help better co-ordinate industry and community investments, services and other offerings, dialogue and engagement with NGOs and public authorities in a way that enhances the positive impact of ICT literacy and professional training on employability prospects of the young, the disabled, older workers and other unemployed or under-employed people throughout the European Union – thereby seeking to address the digital divide.
The Written declaration therefore falls short of doing anything about its stated objective. In fact it does something much more radical, which many of the ones signing it might well not have been aware of – it drastically changes the procurement policies of European institutions, effectively excluding all but OSS solutions from its use.
Should you be interested in presenting an opinion to your local Member of Parliament please contact ofni.noitavonnirofseciov|ue#ofni.noitavonnirofseciov|ue
More information will be posted up on the following website https://www.voicesforinnovation.org/
Links to the written declaration can be found on the European Commission’s website http://osor.eu/news/meps-petition-european-parliament-switch-to-open-source
Here is the resolution in plain text:
pursuant to Rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure by Jean Louis Cottigny, Pierre Pribetich, Michel Rocard, Bronisław Geremek and Daniel Cohn-Bendit on the use of open source software
Lapse date: 25.9.2008
0046/2008 Written declaration on the use of open source software
The European Parliament, – having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. having regard to the growing disparities in access to information and communication technologies in the European Union, reflected in the establishment of a digital divide, a new cause of social disparity which further excludes an already vulnerable population,
B. whereas these new technologies have become an essential tool in areas as varied as employment, education, information etc.,
C. whereas European citizens have the inalienable right freely to access documents and information from the institutions which represent them,
D. whereas the use of open source software is one of the effective ways of reducing this digital divide and whereas this solution, established by some Member States in their administrations, delivers significant results,
1. Calls on the European Union to take the necessary measures to help finance public research on open source software;
2. Calls for Parliament to switch its whole computer network to this type of software;
3. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the parliaments of the Member States, the Council and the Commission, so that they may join forces on this measure.