The French Parliament wants to make it mandatory for the country’s public administrations to make public the source code of its custom-built software solutions. An amendment to France’s upcoming law for the Digital Republic was adopted by France’s lower house on Wednesday.
The amendment by the National Assembly’s Law Committee makes source code of software solutions developed for public administrations equivalent to administrative documents. When requested, public administrations should make the information available.
Axelle Lemaire, minister responsible for Digital Affairs, advised against the amendment. She worries that criminals may exploit bugs in the code, causing security incidents or fraud.
Freedom of information
Meeting the parliamentarians, on Wednesday she also announced that her colleague Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance, will soon make available the source code of the online income tax application. The decision to share the code was taken last summer, following a recommendation by the country’s Freedom Of Information authority (CADA). CADA’s intervention followed a FOI request by a computer scientist, that was at first refused by the ministry.
The amendment explains how economist Thomas Piketty, probing the fairness of France’s tax system, had to develop a tax simulation tool, because he was not allowed to study the algorithms written for the Ministry of Finance.