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<title>German Parliament elections: The parties' positions on Free Software</title>
</head>
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<h1>German Parliament elections: The parties' positions on Free Software</h1>
<p newsteaser="yes">
Today, the Free Software Foundation Europe publishes its
Free Software related election questions for this fall's elections
to the German parliament, which will take place on
September 22.
All political parties have responded to the questions, which cover
issues like users' control over their electronic devices, the
release of publicly funded computer programs as Free Software, and
software patents.
</p>
<p>
From the responses, it's clear that most parties now know more about
Free Software than they did in the past. Below is the translation -- <a href="/contribute/translators/translators.html">done by FSFE's volunteers</a> -- of FSFE's summary
and an evaluation of the <strong><a
href="/campaigns/askyourcandidates/201309-germany-bundestagswahl.html">complete
answers</a></strong>. In addition, FSFE encourages Free
Software activists to use these questions as an inspiration for
their own questions to candidates on federal and local level.
</p>
<p>
First, something pleasant: SPD, the Greens, the Pirate party, the
Linke and the Free Voters want software where development was funded
by the public administration to be published under a free
licence. The SPD states that "publicly funded software should be
available to the general public as far as possible". The Greens
demand the publication of such programs as Free Software in their
manifesto (see <a
href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/WahlUndParteiprogrammeDeutschland">FSFE's
overview on the election and party manifestos in Germany</a>
(German)). In their reply, they justify this demand with benefits
such as "bigger and more sustainable innovation potentials,
broadening of competence in handling software, but also
security-related advantages". They continually criticise the
migration away from Free Software in the Foreign Office. The Pirates
and the Left Party both advocate a general publication of all
software and content funded by the state. The FDP does not directly
address the question, but generally claims to "consider both
proprietary and Free software" in public procurement.
</p>
<p>
The CDU however points out "budget law restrictions" for the
publication and advancement of Free Software by the public
administration. In their answer, they refer to a paragraph in the
Bundeshaushaltsordnung (BHO § 63 para. 2). The federal government
however states the following in its accompanying legal document to
the <a
href="http://www.cio.bund.de/DE/Architekturen-und-Standards/Migrationsleitfaden-und-Migrationshilfen/migrationsleitfaden_node.html">migration
guidelines (German)</a>: This paragraph "does not constitute a
limitation for the dissemination of software" (p. 41) and "in the
practically most important case, the further development of GPL
licences software, a public authority can share its own development
portions to private parties without levy of licence fees"
(p. 43). In contrast, these guidelines highlight a problem in the
gratis distribution to private parties for development of new
software or continuing development of non-copyleft software. It is
worth noting that in its past eight years in government, the CDU has
not improved the BHO law if they perceive it to be
problematic. Furthermore, the CDU/CSU state that in every single
case, it should be checked "if obvious modifications of the software
would allow it to be used for illegal purposes" and if this was the
case, the software should not be published.
</p>
<p>
The <a href="https://blogs.fsfe.org/mk/?p=1031">refusal to release a
GNU/Linux version of the ElsterFormular tax software (German)</a>
meets with a lack of understanding, regret and criticism among the
parties. The FDP points to the platform independence of the upcoming
version of Elsteronline, which will not need Java to run. Still,
they regret that the Elsterformular is not available in a platform
independent way. The Free Voters perceive the given platform
dependency as incomprehensible in view of system security. The tying
to a single operating system development company is unacceptable for
the SPD and they want to engage to "make according software
available for alternative operating systems as well". The Greens
want to advocate the possibility to use the ElsterFormular for users
of Free operating systems. The Left Party voices its criticsm: "The
provision of the Elster-Formular solely for Microsoft Windows and
the refusal to release the GNU-Linux and Mac OS X versions by the
Bayerisches Landesamt für Steuern (Bavarian tax administration), which is in charge of the
development, is not acceptable." The Pirates demand the publication
of the software – even if it was of bad quality – and its
documentation under a Free licence to allow others to further
develop the software.
</p>
<p>
All parties agree that public authorities should demand all rights
(access to the source code, the right for further developments (also by third
parties), the right to distribute the software to others) when
contracting out software development. The FDP states: "This creates independence
from the producer, strategic reliability and freedom of choice when selecting a
service provider." SPD and the Greens mainly justify their demands from an IT
security point of view. According to the Linke, the state "should
ensure that it has discretion over how the software will be
distributed, and use this discretion in the common interest". The
CDU attaches "special importance to [...] the possibility of further
development of the software from the beginning" in the future. The Pirates and the Greens point to the fact
that governmental usage rights are a necessary condition to publish software
of the public administration under a Free licence as demanded by the parties.
The Free Voters state that they will consider fines for officials and
employees who sign contracts without these usage rights.
</p>
<p>
Asked about the control over mobile devices, the parties mainly focus on
aspects of data protection. The SPD sees "challenges especially regarding the
right of informational self-determination". The Greens, Linke, Pirates and SPD
demand data protection-friendly technology as a basic adjustment ("Data
protection by technology"), while CDU/CSU, FDP and the Free voters target a
better education of citizens. However, the parties do not answer the question
about the rights the users should have on the software on these devices – a
question that for example is asked by FSFE's <a
href="/campaigns/android/android.html">FreeYourAndroid.org campaign</a>.
</p>
<p>On the subject <a
href="/campaigns/generalpurposecomputing/secure-boot-analysis.html">"Secure
Boot"</a> all parties are in agreement: the <a
href="/news/2012/news-20121120-01.html">White Paper of the federal
government</a> contains important demands which they want to
support and implement. "With the implementation of Secure Boot the
owners of IT devices get limited in the possibility to entirely
control contents and applications", writes the Left Party. The FDP
wants to "assure that users can make an informed decision about
their devices", and the CDU wants to pursue this issue on national
and international level. In their detailed answer the Pirates
write: "Systems which prevent the user from installing specific software
are inacceptable on political and economical grounds. This inevitably
leads to promotion of oligopolies or monopolies in the software
market. But more important is the socio-political relevance of
control over IT systems [....]". The Greens doubt how the federal
government will implement the key issue paper "with the extensive
ties to Microsoft services" and SPD demands an "initiative on
European level [...] to let these targets not only be a political
declaration of intention, but to really stick to them."</p>
<p>Except for CDU and Free voters, all parties explicitly support
the royalty-free licensing of standards. The Greens point to their
demand in the <a
href="http://www.bundestag.de/internetenquete/">Enquete Kommission
"Internet und Digitale Gesellschaft" (EIDG, commission of inquiry
in internet and digital society)</a> where they want to place the
public administration under an obligation to bring forward
interoperability and sustainability of their IT systems "to be
independent from interests of individual market participants at
the further development of the systems." Criticism of SAGA, the
German guideline for IT standards in federal government
organisations, comes from the Left Party and Pirates. The Left
Party see in the specifications without restrictions and licence
fees no automatism for increased implementation of Free
Software. "On this, active political will and proactive acting of
federal government is required", so the Linke. The Pirates
criticise that ODF in SAGA is only a recommended format what
results to the fact "that non-free software and closed formats can
still be used in administrative practice." For this reason, they
consider SAGA to be merely a "paper tiger".</p>
<p>Unfortunately the CDU sees no problem in <a
href="/campaigns/pdfreaders/pdfreaders.html">advertisement on
public administration's websites</a> for non-free software as long
as such adverts serve usability. The other parties reject this
kind of advertisements, and want to prevent them in future. The
Greens refer in their answer to their request "Advertisement for
proprietary software on websites of federal ministries and public
administration" (printed matter 17/8951) in which they picked up
on this issue, and to the following discussion of this subject in
the IT planning council. The Free Voters offered their help for
solutions on municipal level.</p>
<p>FSFE's ongoing work against software patents shows effects: By
now all parties on federal level agree that patenting of software
should be limited effectively. To this they refer to the <a
href="/news/2013/news-20130612-01.html">inter-fractional request titled
"Secure competition and dynamic of innovation in software sector -
limit patenting of computer programs effectively"</a>.</p>
<p>
The CDU/CSU is generally in favour of using "Serious Games",
i.e. learning games with the primary goal of imparting knowledge in
an entertaining way, in schools and universities and thinks about
releasing those games under a Free licence. The FDP wants to get
more children into programming and "ensure that newly acquired
learning aids can be used platform independently". The Free Voters
want to promote Free Software in the municipal sector. The Greens
especially demand a consistent procurement practice for software
funded by the public sector, continue to criticise regression like
for example in the <a
href="/news/2011/news-20110511-01.html">Foreign Office</a> and want
to serve as a good example by releasing their own software
("betatext"). The Linke sees Free Software in the context of common
property economics and thinks about ways of funding Free Software
development, e.g. using parts of the broadcasting fees. The SPD
wants to primarily promote Free Software in the administration. In
the commission of enquiry on the internet and the digital society
(EIDG) the party had demanded that the state should "provide
subsidies for usability analysis and the improvement of user
friendliness of selected projects".
</p>
<ul>
<li><a href="/campaigns/askyourcandidates/askyourcandidates.html"> More
election interviews</a> done by Free Software Foundation Europe and <a
href="/campaigns/btw09/btw09.html"> publications about the last Bundestag
election</a>.</li>
<li>References to Free Software in <a
href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/WahlUndParteiprogrammeDeutschland">election
and party manifestos in Germany (German)</a>.</li>
</ul>
</body>
<tags>
<tag>front-page</tag>
<tag>askyourcandidates</tag>
<tag>de</tag>
<tag>bundestagswahl</tag>
<tag>politicians</tag>
<tag>public administration</tag>
</tags>
<timestamp></timestamp>
<translator>Martin Gollowitzer</translator>
</html>
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