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<html newsdate="2016-09-07">
<title>Julia Reda, MEP: "Proprietary Software threatens Democracy"
<h1>Julia Reda, MEP: "Proprietary Software threatens Democracy"
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<p>Julia Reda ended the QtCon, a conference for
the Free Software community, with a closing keynote on, among other
things, Free Software in the European Public Sector.
<p>Ms Reda, a member of the EU Parliament for the Pirate Party,
explained how proprietary software, software that forbids users from
studying and modifying it, has often left regulators in the dark,
becoming a liability for and often a threat to the well-being and
health of citizens.</p>
<p>An example of this, she said, is the recent Dieselgate scandal, in
which auto-mobile manufacturers installed software that cheated
instruments that measured fumes in test environments, only to spew
illegal amounts of toxic exhaust into the atmosphere the moment they
went on the road.</p>
<p>Ms Reda also explained how medical devices running proprietary
software posed a health hazard for patients. She gave the example of a
woman with a pacemaker who collapsed while climbing some stairs due to
a bug in her device. Doctors and technicians had no way of diagnosing
and correcting the problem as they did not have access to the
<p>Also worrying is the threat software with restrictive licenses pose to
democracy itself. The trend of substituting traditional voting ballots
with voting machines is especially worrying, because, as these
machines are not considered a threat to national security, their
software also goes unaudited and is, in fact, unauditable in most
<p>And, although voting machines are built and programmed by private
companies, they are commissioned by public entities and paid for with
public money, money taken from citizens' taxes. However, there are no
universal EU regulations that force companies, or, indeed, public
organisations, to make the source code available to the citizens that
have paid for it, said Ms Reda.</p>
<p>Furthermore, she noted that, despite the fact Free Software
technologies (web servers, CMSs, email servers, and so on) are used
extensively throughout the public administration, the public sector
assumes very little responsibility in the way of giving back to the
community via patches or even bug reports.</p>
<p>Ms Reda said that the solution to this very dismal state of affairs is
a multi-pronged one. She commended the Free Software Foundation Europe
for its work in advocating for all software commissioned by public
entities and paid with public money, be made available under
free/libre licenses for everyone. She also noted that to get
governments on the side of Free Software it is essential to make them
see its merits.</p>
<p>Only like this, she said, would it be possible to make legislators
regulate coherently in favour of free/libre technologies.</p>
<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="fsfe-summit">FSFE summit</tag>