France Expands Open Source Use, Seeking Interoperability, ‘Digital Sovereignty’, and ‘Democratic Confidence’

Euractive reports: The French government's roadmap for developing open source to make it a vector of digital sovereignty and a guarantee of "democratic confidence" was presented by Public Transformation and Civil Service Minister Amélie de Montchalin on Wednesday (10 November). EURACTIV France reports Montchalin spoke at the closing of the first edition of the "Open Source Experience", which took place from 9-10 November and brought together all players in the free software community in Paris. "We must now build the public action of the new century," she said, indicating that France will look to inspire the "many States [that] seek to embark" on greater openness of public data and the use of open source... With the vast majority of relations between citizens and state services now being digital, Montchalin believes a "culture of transparency" is necessary for "democratic trust". It is also a matter of digital sovereignty, she added. According to a European Commission study published in September, investment in open source software in 2018 generated a sum of €65-95 billion in revenue. According to the same report, France was crowned European champion of open source policies. To help French administrations make greater use of such solutions, Montchalin announced the creation of a team within the Interministerial Digital Directorate responsible for the promotion and inter-ministerial coordination of this mission. She also revealed the launch of the code.gouv.fr platform, which will inventory all source code published by public organisations... [French prime minister] Jean Castex urged all government departments on 27 April to do more to facilitate access to their data, algorithms and codes "in open formats that can be used by third parties". The PM also urged them to turn to free and open software... [Montchalin] wants the state to retain "control over the solutions" it uses. She also stressed the importance of interoperability — the ability to work with other existing or future products or systems — and reversibility — the ability to resume using data or software in the event of migration to another solution. "By using open source software, you give yourself much more autonomy than by using proprietary software and a fortiori proprietary cloud services that are hosted outside Europe," Stéfane Fermigier, co-president of the Union of Free Software and Open Digital Businesses, told EURACTIV. The article also summarizes a concern from French digital law firm LegalUP Consulting that open source code "makes it easier to discover security flaws, which can be exploited." But a representative from LegalUP also calls open source software "an extremely interesting alternative for Europe, a third way between digital giants and local players; an opportunity to ensure independence through neutrality and decentralisation rather than conflict."

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