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<title>Estonian presidency in the EU: the FSFE asks for truly interoperable IT services in public sector</title>
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<h1>Estonian presidency in the EU: the FSFE asks for truly interoperable IT services in public sector</h1>
<p>The FSFE submitted its comments for the upcoming
Tallinn Declaration for e-government drafted by the Estonian presidency
of the Council of the EU. Therein the FSFE asks the current Estonian
presidency to promote greater inclusion of Free Software in delivering
truly inclusive, trustworthy and interoperable digital services to all
citizens and businesses across the EU. The Tallinn Declaration will be
signed by EU ministers in October 2017, expressing member states' joint
vision for e-government and political commitment to follow the goals set.
The proposal for Tallinn declaration is open for public comments until 14 July.
The FSFE is asking organisations, companies, and individuals to let EU
ministers know how Free Software is important for transparent and accountable
e-government.</p>
<p>Since 1 July, Estonia is holding its presidency of the Council of the
EU. The presidency is responsible for driving forward the Council's work
on EU legislation, ensuring the continuity of the EU agenda, orderly
legislative processes and cooperation among member states. As part of
its presidency, Estonia has set up a goal to make strong progress on
the development of public digital services in Europe.</p>
<p>The Estonian presidency is currently planning to bring forward an e-government
roadmap for both the national as well as EU levels, through <a href="https://www.mkm.ee/en/news/your-ideas-next-ministerial-declaration-digital-government">ministerial declaration</a>
signed by e-government ministers across the EU. Several policy
proposals indicated in the Tallinn Declaration will shape the future
EU policy in this domain.</p>
<p>The Estonian presidency released a <a href="https://ideas4digitalgov.eu/">proposal for the declaration</a>
for public consultation. One of the key points therein says that:</p>
<blockquote>
<p>"Public services and IT systems should be interoperable across organisations
and platforms".</p>
</blockquote>
<p>Amongst other things, this should be achieved by "opening up"
government data and services. Another key point suggests that:</p>
<blockquote>
<p>"Citizens should also have a right to algorithmic accountability
and transparency, such that citizens can understand and challenge decisions
based on algorithms".</p>
</blockquote>
<p>The FSFE believes that the Estonian presidency should follow Estonia's
<a href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/Activities/EU_Policies_overview_FS#Estonia">own example</a>
of building open and interoperable public IT services with Free Software,
and go further to explicitly acknowledge the importance that Free Software
and Open Standards play in providing reusable, transparent and accountable
solutions in the public sector across EU member states.</p>
<p>The FSFE extends a continuous pressure to open up government data and
services into the release of software that is used for governmental e-services.
The opening of data also means the opening of rules and modules that
produce that data, complements it and underpins public decisions. Without
that important resource, true algorithmic transparency and accountability
is not possible. Hence, the FSFE demands that all publicly funded software
that is underpinning public digital services is made publicly available
as Free Software. Only then, increased trust in e-government can be achieved. </p>
<h2>Our amendments and how you can help</h2>
<p>In summary, the FSFE asks the authors of the Tallinn Declaration
to amend and include the following points:</p>
<ul>
<li>Give preference to Open Standards, including for data interchange,
as in line with the European Interoperability Framework. Open Standards
can only be called open if they allow implementations in Free Software.</li>
<li>Allow citizens and enterprises to access, edit and port their data
owned by public administration in Open Standards and open formats. Software
developed by and for public administration has to be published as Free
Software in order to guarantee algorithmic accountability and transparency.</li>
<li>Continue the progress in opening up government data and services,
including software, starting from extending the scope of the Public Sector
Information directive (PSI) to data and software privately held, but of
public interest. PSI also needs to be extended to source code of public s
oftware that needs to be released under Free/Open Source Software licences.</li>
</ul>
<p>Please see our full comments for Tallinn declaration <a href="https://download.fsfe.org/policy/letters/20170621-FSFE-Tallinn-Declaration.pdf">here</a>.</p>
<p>The proposal is open for public comments until <strong>14 July</strong>,
which will then be presented to the member states as an input in the preparation
of the declaration to define future EU policy on digital government.
The FSFE encourages organisations, companies, and individuals <a href="https://ideas4digitalgov.eu/">to submit
comments and directly participate in the EU policy making</a>. Feel free
to reuse the arguments laid out above for your own submission and tell
the EU ministers how Free Software and Open Standards are important for
trustworthy, interoperable and transparent digital government.</p>
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