Our Work

Open Standards

Open Standards allow people to share all kinds of data freely and with perfect fidelity. They prevent lock-in and other artificial barriers to interoperability, and promote choice between vendors and technology solutions. FSFE pushes for the adoption of Open Standards to promote free competition in the IT market, as they ensure that people find it easy to migrate to Free Software or between Free Software solutions.

Introduction

The relevance of Open Standards is closely linked to networking effects, and has consequently been rising dramatically. The reward for gaming the system for proprietary vendors is increasing, so is the cost for users of software.

Governments, public interest NGOs, including groups that are concerned about freedom of competition or consumer rights are generally strong proponents of Open Standards. Typical critics are the proprietary software vendors and those that represent their interests. One of the items that critics seek to highlight is the inherent conflict between innovation and standardisation.

Standardisation deliberately limits changes to a technological basis, including innovation. These limits are introduced in order to allow subsequent innovation by everyone that has access to the standard and not just the party that controls the technological basis. So standards limit the ability to innovate by a single party in order to allow innovation on the basis of that standard by multiple parties.

Open Standards allow such innovation by all parties with no leverage for the initial developer of the platform to limit such innovation or the competition it represents.

FSFE's goals include freedoms from lock-in, of innovation and competition for everyone. That is why FSFE is a strong supporter of Open Standards.

Publications

Publications at the IGF

Publications on MS-OOXML

EU to fund Free Software code review

19 December 2014:

The European Parliament has approved funding for several projects related to Free Software and privacy. In the EU budget for 2015, which the European Parliament adopted on December 17, the Parliamentarians have allocated up to one million Euro for a project to audit Free Software programs in use at the Commission and the Parliament in order to identify and fix security vulnerabilities.

Study: To ensure transparency, European Parliament must adopt Free Software, Open Standards

12 December 2014:

A study released on Friday says that the European Parliament must adopt Free Software and Open Standards in order to fulfil its transparency obligations. The authors conclude that "the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament should whenever possible make Free Software and Open Standards mandatory for all systems and data used for the work of Parliament."

[Blog] FSFE comments at European Parliament's DG ITEC conference

20 November 2014:

At a meeting in the European Parliament, FSFE's president Karsten Gerloff highlighted several ways in which the Parliament could become more transparent, and make better use of Free Software and Open Standards.

In a short intervention, he urged the Parliament to finally make its live streams accessible to Free Software users. He asked the Parliament's IT administration to enable IMAP access on its mail servers to allow Free Software users to connect through standard protocols, and warned the Parliament to avoid lock-in as it progresses towards greater digitisation.

Document Freedom Day 2014 Report Published

24 April 2014:

Open Standards were celebrated to the ends of the earth for Document Freedom Day 2014, with 51 events in 22 countries. The campaign for interoperability was enacted from Tokyo to Rio, and Birmingham to Taipei.

Open Letter to EU institutions: Time to support Open Standards

26 March 2014:

In an open letter to the European Parliament and the European Commission, Free Software Foundation Europe and Open Forum Europe are asking the European institutions to improve their support for Open Standards. The letter is directed to Giancarlo Vilella, the president of the European Parliament's DG ITEC and chair of the Inter-Institutional Committee for Informatics.