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Portugal's parliament adopted a law last Wednesday requiring the country's public administrations to use open standards, including for their electronic documents.
According to TEK, a Portuguese IT news site, the law requires public administration's IT systems to provide for the use of open standards. Portugal's government organisations will now be required to implement open standards in all digital documents that they publish, exchange, and archive.
The new law also directs the government Agency for Administrative Modernisation (Agência para a Modernização Administrativa, AMA) to prepare rules and definitions on electronic data exchange, including documents formats, web interfaces and e-mail systems.
The law is the result of the combination of two proposals that were submitted to the parliament in December.
Five of the six political groups in the parliament voted in favour. The PSD (Partido Social Democrata, Social Democratic Party) abstained.
TEK quotes Member of Parliament Bruno Dias, of Portugal's Communist Party: "This (law) is very important for interoperability, freedom and sovereignty of the country, for openness and transparency in the relation between the state and citizens."
In a statement published today by ESOP, the country's association for open source IT service providers, said it hopes that the new law will help to solve the interoperability problems "that make IT systems excessively expensive and hard to operate".
Ansol, Portugal's Association for the promotion of Free Software, also welcomed the new law. "It forbids restrictions such as royalties and RAND. The law will refuse open standard that discriminate against free software."
Use of free electronic formats in public administration (in Portuguese, pdf)