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<html newsdate="2020-04-24">
<version>1</version>
<head>
<title>Netherlands commits to Free Software by default</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Netherlands commits to Free Software by default</h1>
<p>In an open letter to the Parliament, the Dutch
minister for internal affairs Raymond Knops commits to a "Free Software
by default" policy and underlines its benefits for society. Current
market regulations shall be reworded to allow publishing Free Software
by the government. </p>
<p>In the 2018 budget debate, Members of the Dutch Parliament raised
questions about actively publishing Free Software by the government,
and an 'open source by default' policy for procurement. These questions
appealed to a <a
href="https://kennisopenbaarbestuur.nl/rapporten-publicaties/onderzoek-open-source-software/">report</a>
earlier in 2017 on a government-ordered inquiry in the options for
publishing software under a Free and Open-Source-Software-License. The
report states that adopting Free Software could make the government
more transparent, as well as reduce costs and stimulate the economy.
Additional efforts are deemed necessary to reap these benefits by
ensuring readable and secure code and supporting the community at
large. However, it also underlined the possibility that the government
publishing Free Software could be considered unfair competition under
current market regulations. Doing so would only be legal if the
government abides by a strict set of regulations, which in its current
form would render such publication nearly impossible.</p>
<figure>
<img src="https://pics.fsfe.org/uploads/medium/6074bbfdb2e02fddb6d5ed940470e59c.jpg" alt="Picture of Dutch minister Raymond Knops" />
<figcaption>Dutch minister Raymond Knops at an Open Data award ceremony. CC-BY-2.0 Sebastiaan ter Burg</figcaption>
</figure>
<p>After some delay, the Dutch minister for internal affairs, Raymond
Knops, has finally answered these questions by publishing a <a
href="https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/kamerstukken/2020/04/17/kamerbrief-inzake-vrijgeven-broncode-overheidssoftware">letter
to the Parliament</a>. In this letter, the minister agrees to the
principle of Free Software by default ("Open Source by default") for
procurement, which can be considered a parallel to the 'comply or
explain' policy that is already in effect for the adoption of open
standards. The minister also agrees to the government actively
developing and publishing Free Software. The letter comes with a
summation of benefits that are similar to the ones mentioned in our <a
href="https://publiccode.eu/">"Public Money? Public Code!"
campaign</a>. Still, some reservations are mentioned: exceptions shall
be made for information that could compromise national or governmental
security and for information considered a privacy risk. Additionally,
the letter states that it might not be worth taking on the additional
effort of converting existing software into Free Software, making this
policy mostly applicable for new projects.</p>
<p>In the <a
href="https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/publicaties/2020/04/17/overwegingen-bij-open-tenzij-en-aanpak-open-source">attachment
to the letter</a>, the minister takes note of ongoing efforts in the public
sector and makes detailed promises of enabling and encouraging a Free Software
community in the public sector. One of these is a promise to investigate
possible changes to the current market regulations in order to make exceptions
for publishing Free Software by the government. This will remove the current
legal grey area. A new procurement policy will also be adopted: Free Software by
default is the way to go, and the government and its institutions will actively
start to publish Free Software. The minister will report on the progress of
these measures in the beginning of 2021.</p>
<p>"At the FSFE we welcome this policy and we will monitor the progress
together with our strong partners in the Netherlands." says Nico
Rikken, the FSFE's coordinator for the Netherlands. "We also invite
Dutch national and local governments to sign our open letter that
demands that publicly financed software developed for the public sector
be made publicly available under a Free Software licence."</p>
<blockquote>The Public Money? Public Code! campaign aims to set Free
Software as the standard for publicly financed software. Public
administrations following this principle can benefit from collaboration
with other public bodies, independence from single vendors, potential
tax savings, increased innovation, and a better basis for IT security.
The Free Software Foundation Europe together with over 180 civil
society organisations and more than 27.000 individuals signed the Open
Letter. We will use the signatures to contact decision makers and
political representatives all over Europe and convince them to make
public code the standard. You are invited to <a
href="https://publiccode.eu">add your signature</a> to make a bigger
impact.</blockquote>
</body>
<tags>
<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="pmpc">Public Money? Public Code!</tag>
<tag key="public-administration">Public Administration</tag>
<tag key="policy">Policy</tag>
<tag key="nl">Netherlands</tag>
</tags>
<image url="https://pics.fsfe.org/uploads/medium/6074bbfdb2e02fddb6d5ed940470e59c.jpg" />
<author id="rikken"/>
<discussion href="https://community.fsfe.org/t/netherlands-commits-to-free-software-by-default/432" />
</html>