Stay ‘technology-neutral’ to give users choice is business plea to governments

  • 6 December 2005

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) today called on governments to be even-handed in their software procurement policies and not give undue preference to either open source or proprietary software in legislation.

A policy statement drafted by the ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms said: “Since the late 1990s, some governments have considered changing their public sector procurement laws to give preference to open source software by either creating barriers to the acquisition of commercial software (or preferences for acquisition of open source software) or making the purchase of commercial software by government procurement authorities outright illegal.

“ICC opposes government procurement preferences and mandates that favour one form of software development or licensing over others.”

The ICC statement said that governments, like all potential and existing customers, should choose software on a technology-neutral and vendor-neutral basis, examining the merits of the technology. This provides the best range of user choice in selecting technology for their specific needs.

“As a general rule, governments should not discriminate against or ban the procurement of software based on its licensing or development model.

“Such preferential policies prevent public authorities from effectively weighing all relevant factors in their procurement decisions.”

The ICC statement, approved by the ICC Executive Board on 1 December 2005, will be delivered to governments by ICC national committees and members around the world. Open Source Software is software for which the underlying programming code is available to the users so that they may read it, make changes to it, and build new versions of the software incorporating their changes.