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's work on Open Standards has the goal of making sure 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

Deklarim taksash pa software jo të lirë: një kompani sllovake apelon gjobat

11 June 2013:

Në një çështje gjyqësore të kompanie Sllovake që ka protestuar kundër detyrimit për të përdorur një software jo të lirë për të deklaruar taksat, një gjykatë ka dështuar të japë një vendim mbi thelbin e çështjes.

FSFE responds to UK Open Standards Consultation

01 June 2012:

FSFE has submitted its response [Update: see as PDF version or HTML version] to a public consultation by the UK Government, concerning a definition of Open Standards and a policy for increasing their use in the UK's public sector. If the policy is applied boldly and proactively, the UK stands to greatly gain from increased competition in the software market, with much greater opportunities for small companies. On the other hand, even minor lapses in implementation could derail the policy entirely.

FSFE responds to UK Open Standards Consultation

01 June 2012:

FSFE has submitted its response [pdf] to a public consultation by the UK Government, concerning a definition of Open Standards and a policy for increasing their use in the UK's public sector. If the policy is applied boldly and proactively, the UK stands to greatly gain from increased competition in the software market, with much greater opportunities for small companies. On the other hand, even minor lapses in implementation could derail the policy entirely.

FSFE: NW UK businesses please tell Government that Open Standards matter

28 May 2012:

Is the Government one of your potential customers? Free Software may shortly be locked out of opportunities in the public sector if proposed Open Standards policy is adopted.

Executive summary of the EURA case

09 May 2012:

Slovak textile importer EURA Slovakia, s.r.o. is facing EUR 5600 in fines because it did not buy and use the Microsoft Windows operating system for submitting electronic tax reports. Slovak tax administration gave EURA only two options: either to buy and use Microsoft Windows or face the fines. This is also how we could briefly summarize the decision of Slovak tax administration from a few weeks ago. The administration imposed several fines on a company, EURA Slovakia, which submitted its tax reports on paper, because the use of electronic form was impossible as the state's web application worked only on the Microsoft Windows operating system. The company now plans to appeal to the court and to demand that the state stops forcing businesses to use a certain product, instead of requiring that the public administration uses a multi-platform technical solution based on Open Standards that is available for everybody.