New Digital Law equates source code to public information
The French Parliament has last week approved a first draft law for a Digital Republic, which encourages the use of free software by the country's public administrations. The Assembly (France's lower house) rejected calls by proponents to make free software a priority. However, the draft Digital Law does consider source code of software developed by or for public administrations to be public information, which should be made available on request.
Equating software source code to public sector information follows the law's approach to open data, which the law makes open by default.
The law, proposal submitted by Axelle Lemaire, Minister for Digital Affairs, will now be submitted to the Upper House in France - le Sénat.
The past two months, parliamentarians submitted some 1500 amendments. Several of these intended to make free software a requirement, or at least make its use a priority for the public sector. Moreover, making free software a priority for French public administrations was the 3rd most popular suggestion gathered in the law's public consultation.
The rejection of these amendments following the vote on 26 January is a disappointment for France's free software avdocay groups. "The government turns a deaf ear", Frédéric Couchet, executive director of April, France's free software advocacy group, said earlier. "Instead, the government hopes that efforts to promote free software will increase by themselves."
In a statement following the vote, the Conseil National du Numérique, a government ICT advisory committee, welcomed the adoption by the MPs of an amendment to encourage the use of free software in the administration. CNNum "regrets that the text does not take a stronger position in favour of a priority for the features offered by open source solutions in public procurement".
However, CCnum (the Digital National Council), says that extending the open by default principle to source code is progress. "We're pleased to see source code included in the open by default principle."