The European Parliament has approved funding for several projects related to Free Software and privacy. In the EU budget for 2015, which the European Parliament adopted on December 17, the Parliamentarians have allocated up to one million Euro for a project to audit Free Software programs in use at the Commission and the Parliament in order to identify and fix security vulnerabilities.
Even though these institutions are tightly locked into non-free file formats, much of their infrastructure is based on Free Software.
“This is a very welcome decision,” says FSFE's president Karsten Gerloff. “Like most public bodies, the European institutions rely heavily on Free Software for their daily operations. It is good to see that the Parliament and the Commission will invest at least a little in improving the quality and the programs they use.”
The European Commission's Directorate General for Informatics (DIGIT) will be in charge of implementing the pilot, which was submitted by MEPs Julia Reda (Pirates) and Max Andersson (Greens). FSFE urges the Commission to work closely with upstream developers. The EC should make the audit results public as soon as possible, and contribute any improvements it makes to the upstream projects.
The budget further lists a project to encrypt communications among the EU institutions, funded with EUR 500,000; and a pilot that uses Free Software and Open Standards to help civil society actors participate in lawmaking, by improving AT4AM, the software that MEPs use for drafting legislation, which the Parliament published as Free Software in 2013. Another project is intended to enable the European Commission to make unclassified documents publicly available by default.
“Taken together, these projects are a first step towards more transparent policy making in Europe,” says Gerloff. “We will continue to work with the Commission and the Parliament to help them along the path of engaging more consistently and effectively with the Free Software community.”
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