French senator: ‘Digital sovereignty at stake’


France’s Senate should start a commission of inquiry into a proprietary licence contract signed by the Ministry of Defence, says senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam. This summer, the ministry’s latest four-year framework contract came into force, following a so-called negotiated procedure, bypassing competition. Members of the parliament have criticised this licence agreement for years.

On Monday last week, senator Garriaud-Maylam filed her latest motion, aksing for a commission of inquiry. She is worried by the lack of openness and wants a public debate over the Ministry’s continued reliance on proprietary software and its consequences for national security and digital sovereignty.

The senator calls into doubt the ministry’s strategy of using a US-based software manufacturer whose software was used by the NSA (the US spy agency), “in particular for the purposes of espionage of major economic, industrial and political actors.”

In addition, she is calling on the ministry to prove its claim that this contract is helping to reduce costs in comparison to other proprietary or free software solutions. She doubts that the negotiated procedure is in line with government procurement rules.

On her website, senator Garriaud-Maylam points to a recent strategic review (Revue stratégique 2017) that highlights IT security challenges and notes the supremacy of US-based IT companies on which Europeans depend. “Choices made by the French Gendarmerie and the Italian Ministry of Defence in favour of free software, show that alternatives exist,” she adds.

In a press release, France’s free software advocacy group April is calling on other senators to support the motion. April has protested the proprietary licence contract from the start. The group points out that the contract renewal ignores recommendation by the ministry’s own IT experts.

More information:

Motion for a commission of inquiry (in French)
April press release
Comments by senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam (in French)

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