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State neglected web standards, company now faces EUR 5600 in fines

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In Slovakia, a law introduced to reduce red tape has led to injustice. The state has mandated electronic means as a only way of fulfilling certain statutory obligations. However the dedicated web solution excludes some citizens from use as it is not interoperable and runs only on the software from one vendor. In absence of any non-electronic option, this means that state, in fact, prescribed the use of a certain product from a certain vendor. Who did not own the copy, had to buy one. Slovak textile importer deemed that state should not force him to use a certain software for his business and fulfilled its legal obligation by paper. Now the company faces EUR 5600 in fines.

The Slovak tax administration has already imposed 12 fines on EURA Slovakia, s.r.o., which submitted its monthly tax returns on paper, because the use of electronic forms was impossible as the state's web application worked only on Microsoft's Windows operating system together with Microsoft Internet Explorer. All other competing operating systems such as Apple, GNU/Linux, BSDs failed to run the state's application.

The Slovak tax administration has, therefore, precluded citizens who use competing products from fulfilling its obligations towards the state. "This situation is absurd. If another public body decides to use an Apple-only solution for its public services, should then everybody buy Apple's products just to fulfill this legal obligation? How many different products should citizens and companies have to buy just to comply with all the different laws?" asks Martin Husovec, member of the FSFE Legal, who now assists the Slovak company in appealing the fines before the court.

Ironically, instead of reducing the red tape, this negligence only added further complications for the companies. Moreover, the "EURA case" raises a question of why the state should promote any one vendor's operating system. It only hurts the competition, increases costs for the small companies and leads to social injustice such as in this case. If the state requires the electronic form as a only way of respecting the law, it has to offer the multi-platform solution, which is available to everybody. It is the task of the state to be here for everybody and not only for selected citizens.

You can find more information on our executive summary of the EURA case.