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A bright Document Freedom Day for Britain?


As companies and communities come together to raise awareness of Open Standards for the forth consecutive Document Freedom Day, the issue of freedom from restricted digital files is more relevant in the UK than ever.

"Britain's relationship with Open Standards is rapidly changing for the better. As a Parliamentary Select Committee today debates increasing its commitment, we hope that pubic sector ICT can look forward to greater interoperability and value for money in future", said Sam Tuke, UK Team Coordinator of Free Software Foundation Europe. "If the government can follow up its words with actions, British citizens will have much to celebrate."

The Coalition Government has made Open Standards a key area of reform, and in the last three months has set Britain on track to take a leading role in implementing Open Standards in Europe. New procurement requirements for all departments, a new Open Source Advisory Panel, determinative meetings with the largest public ICT suppliers, and research on hundreds of existing technical standards herald a new era of document freedom for Britain. Today British citizens have much to celebrate.

As an ever greater part of our personal and professional communication moves into the digital world, protecting citizen's freedoms concerning the way their data is moved and stored remains critical. Open Standards and open document formats provide us with the freedom to read and write. They are crucial to ensure our ability to exchange information, remain independent of any particular organisation, and keep our data accessible and retrievable in the future.

Since Document Freedom Day 2010 the UK has benefited from investment in Free Software and Open Standards by both central Government and third sector organisations. Free Software Foundation Europe established a permanent office in Manchester in early 2011, and members of the lobby organisation Open Forum Europe comprise the Government's newly formed panel.

Despite this push from government during the months leading up to Document Freedom Day, many local British institutions remain far behind. Sustained reform and strong leadership is required from the Coalition in order to ensure that by Document Freedom Day 2012 citizens will enjoy better interoperability between programs, better value from publicly purchased technology, and a more competitive software market.