The European Parliamentary committees for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) as well as Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) issued their joint own-initiative report based on the Commission's Digital Single Market Strategy. FSFE's policy team analysed their report and proposed changes to include standards that are open, minimalistic, and implementable with Free Software, to integrate users' control over their data and to make sure that the the single open science cloud is implemented with Free Software.
The report received more than 1000 amendments from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), several of whom supported our points and proposed amendments. This shows increased awareness in the Parliament towards the importance of Free Software in "cloud computing", big data and standardisation, as well as in public sector. Shadow rapporteur Cornelia Ernst even highlighted the need to address Free Software during her talk in the joint meeting of IMCO/ITRE on 10 November. This month, on December 14, the Parliament will vote for the final version of the report.
Although the report is non-binding and the Commission is not obliged to follow the Parliament's recommendations, the fact that our amendments were supported by several MEPs is an important step. Especially in the Parliament that is usually less receptive when it comes to the issues concerning digital rights and Free Software.
After three years of intensive lobbying by the FSFE and other organisations, the German Parliament as well as the second chamber, the Federal Council, passed a law against compulsory routes but for free choice of the user. This is an important step towards consumer protection and fair competition of manufacturers. Free choice also empowers users to take care of critical features like security or privacy on their own preferred device. The law will become effective in the mid of 2016 and should set an example across Europe. We will support similar legislation wherever needed.
In the end of October FSFE reminded of the dangers posed by technical restrictions on technology to promote everyone's right to tinker. As a result, the topic got picked up by the press and the FSFE info page was linked with at least a dozen articles from several big name news sources. Our ex-intern Asa Ritz summarised in his blogpost the media coverage we received.
At the EU level: the European Parliament calls upon the Commission for the systematic replacement of proprietary software by verifiable Free Software in all the EU institutions. In Italy, the Italian Ministry of Defence is replacing Microsoft Office with LibreOffice on 150,000 PCs in what is Europe’s second largest LibreOffice implementation. Meanwhile, the second most important industrial city in Southern Italy, Bari, is about to complete its transition to LibreOffice and the ODF. At the same time in Switzerland, the council of Bern ordered the IT department to end its dependence on proprietary software, and replace proprietary software by Free Software solutions. The same example was followed in Denmark where the city of Aarhus is requiring the use of open IT standards for all of its future IT projects in order to rid itself of IT vendor lock-in. Lastly, recent study in France confirmed that country's administration is still a large enabler of Free Software in France. According to the study, the Free Software market is growing on a linear trend and will grow by 9% annually until 2020.
This was the final newsletter in 2015. Thank you very much for your attention. You will receive the next newsletter in the beginning of February 2016.
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Happy Christmas and a Happy GNU-year!
Your editors Polina Malaja and Erik Albers FSFE