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European Parliament pushes for Free Software migration

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On 29 October 2015, the European Parliament adopted a report (2015/2635(RSP)), which condemned mass surveillance throughout Europe. While focusing primarily on legal precedents of data protection, Parliament proposed new recommendations to improve IT security by migrating to free software, as well as adding free software as a mandatory selection criterion in public IT procurement.

Specifically, Section 47 of the report:

Welcomes the steps taken so far to strengthen Parliament’s IT security, as outlined in the action plan on EP ICT Security prepared by DG ITEC; asks for these efforts to be continued and the recommendations made in the resolution fully and swiftly carried out; calls for fresh thinking and, if necessary, legislative change in the field of procurement to enhance the IT security of the EU institutions; calls for the systematic replacement of proprietary software by auditable and verifiable open-source software in all the EU institutions, for the introduction of a mandatory ’open-source’ selection criterion in all future ICT procurement procedures, and for efficient availability of encryption tools.

This is a welcome change in rhetoric from the previous version of the resolution (2013/2188(INI) Section 91). The new version uses stronger language to push for migrating to Free Software as a way to improve transparency and security in EU IT systems. Although resolutions passed in the European Parliament are non-binding, passage of this report sends a strong message to the European Commission to include provisions for Free Software in future legislation.