FSFE convinces 1125 public administrations to remove proprietary software advertisements
After six years of activity, the PDFreaders campaign is coming to a close this month as one of our most successful campaigns.
The campaign began in 2009 with the intent of removing advertisements for proprietary PDF reader software from public institutions' websites. To start it all off, volunteers submitted 2104 "bugs", or instances of proprietary PDF software being directly promoted by public authorities, and the FSFE listed them online. Since then, hundreds of Free Software activists took action by writing to the relevant public institutions and calling for changes to their websites. We received a lot of positive feedback from the institutions thanking us for our letters, and to date, 1125 out of the 2104 websites (53%) edited their websites by removing links to proprietary PDF readers, or adding links to Free Software PDF readers.
In addition to writing letters, FSFE also collected signatures for a petition calling for an end to advertisement for proprietary software products on government websites. 90 organizations, 63 businesses, and 2731 individuals signed this petition.
Furthermore, we were able to push for change at both national and international levels.
- In Germany, national parties gave statements in favor of free PDF readers and the German Government itself has recommended the usage of our text snippet in their migration guide. FSFE's coordinator for Germany, Max Mehl, covers it in more detail on his blog.
- In the EU: the European Parliament directly asked the European Commission what were the reasons for advertising a specific software and which steps were taken to solve this problem.
- In 2011 one of our pdfreaders.org coordinators, Hannes Hauswedell, was in contact with Google, asking them to release the PDF reader included in their Chrome browser as Free Software. Finally, in May 2014, the pdfium sources were published openly, and while FSFE's enquiry might not have been the only reason they were released, it marks an important change for the widespread adoption of Free Software PDF readers.
"This success would not have been possible without the help and hard work from our volunteers and the support from our donors. Thank you! While many public and private web-sites still promote proprietary readers, the level of awareness has changed significantly during our campaign and now it should be much easier for you to approach the remaining web-site administrators. Also most internet users today already use Free Software when they open a PDF file in their browser -- a huge difference from 2009!" says Hannes Hauswedell who started the campaign. "Of course work still remains and we invite you to keep on reminding (public) administrators to use Open Standards and not recommend proprietary software. And with your support, we too, will continue to fight for a web that respects its users' privacy and freedom!"
To get involved you can use our sample letter to send to the relevant public administration, or you can write one of your own. Just make sure to include where to find a list of Free Software PDF readers that could replace the link from their website.
A special thanks again to the activists, volunteers, and donors who helped make this campaign a success!