A petition calling on the European Parliament to start using Open Source software and to adopt Open Standards was launched Thursday. So far the petition attracted the support of 2342 people.
The initiative has the support of the Greens in the EP. Contacted by phone the Spanish MEP David Hammerstein explains he would prefer that the parliament uses Open Source software exclusively. "In the meantime, we need to make sure our IT systems work with Open Standards, even if the IT people decide to use certain Microsoft applications. For example people who want to watch the video streams of the European Parliament should not to be forced to use Microsoft software. We need to get rid of this lock-in, not only at the EP but also at the European Commission and the European Council."
On his website, MEP Hammerstein writes: "We support the campaign because we believe that the current actual monopoly has a negative effect on democratic participation, innovation and competitiveness in Europe." The MEP considers interoperability and Open Standards basic principles of the European Union that must be defended, up to the European Court of Justice if necessary.
"Citizens should not have to use the software of a single company in order to communicate with their elected officials or participate in the legislative process", explain the organisers, OpenForum Europe,
the European Software Market Association and The Free Software Foundation Europe. They also want the parliamentarians to ensure that all companies can compete freely for IT contracts at the EP. Their third wish is for the EP to adopt Open Standards and promote interoperability.
Graham Taylor, Chief Executive of OpenForum Europe, one of the organisers of the petition said "lock-in to solutions from one proprietary supplier is one of the hidden costs of IT. Why should citizens be forced to buy particular software purely to communicate with their local authority, national government or Parliament. Open Standards are one way that government can enforce in order to protect the citizen as much as local business."
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