Open source. One step closer to a global standard.

Jul 12 2016

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Original image created by TUBS

The world is actively turning to open-source solutions, a study shows, as 78% of the private companies run partially or integrally on open-source software. When it comes to governments and state-owned enterprises, the story is a bit different. Four economically powerful countries are known to strongly back the open source development, while others are simply implementing free solutions as a way to cut down costs. 

It all started back in 2006, when France was among the first nations worldwide to implement open source solutions as an alternative to paid software intended to be used by the government. The French government went a step further than making Paris an open source software hub. They implemented the concept in public administration and the educational system.

Ten years later, the Bulgarian Government made a surprising move and became the first country to pass a law that forces all software intended to be used by the administrative bodies to be developed based on a FOSS (free and open source software) license. This came up as an effort from the government to be more sensitive regarding public expenses and foresee any potential threats linked to the numerous vulnerabilities found after the expiration of the support contract. Moreover, “whatever custom software the government procures will be visible and accessible to everyone. After all, it’s paid by taxpayers’ money and they should both be able to see it and benefit from it.”, the Bulgarian PM’s advisor, Bozhidar Bozhanov said.

This action has been described as a bold and questionable move by both security experts and the software community. What could have been perceived before as a security threat by exposing the source code behind a government software, today is seen as a way to protect against outside threats by allowing security experts to search for vulnerabilities and report them before someone could take advantage of. Another decisive fact that supported the passing of this law through the Parliament consists in the low costs of maintenance and support. Think about Bulgaria as the 3rd country in the world in terms of certified IT professionals per capita, experiencing a tremendous 30% yearly increase and you can imagine how accessible it is to let the open source community help you develop a national software. 

On the other hand, the skeptical people could say that Bulgaria will be forced by the newly promulgated law to make available any custom code, now a matter of national security, if funded by the taxpayers’ money, but this was something the government has predicted. The list of exceptions include any FOSS intended to be used by basically any government agency related to national security.

By taking this decision, Bulgaria has pushed the open-source concept one step closer to being implemented worldwide, as a standard and not as a niche idea, eventually becoming a commonly perceived practice. Well done, Bulgaria!

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki