Through Chin Wong’s blog, I discovered that there is an open source bill courtesy of Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casino. Apparently there is no word yet on its content but I hope that it would help promote Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) throughout the Philippines.
Chin Wong points out several benefits of FOSS that can benefit the government, quoting Kenneth Wong of UNDP’s International Open Source Network:
- The country can reduce reliance and spending on imports. Most proprietary operating systems and business applications come from the United States, and developing countries such as the Philippines end up importing millions of dollars worth of software licenses. On the other hand, FOSS by its very nature can be obtained at no or very little cost, resulting in substantial foreign exchange savings.
- The local software industry can be more quickly and inexpensively developed. While it’s true that open source projects generally require more technical support, money spent on these services tends to stay within the country instead of going to multinational companies. On top of this, the barrier to entry in the FOSS world is very, very low, and the collaborative nature of the open source community and the huge archives of technical information make it easy for students and software engineers to learn by experimenting.
- National security is better protected. Because the source code ““ human readable instructions ““ is available in FOSS, government engineers can determine exactly what a program does. In contrast, proprietary software is usually delivered as binary code that is difficult to interpret, leaving open the possibility of secret back doors into the system.
- Open standards prevent vendor lock-in. Proprietary systems foster dependency on one vendor. In subsequent bids, the need for new systems to be compatible with the products of that vendor skews the process in his favor. FOSS does the opposite and gives end-users a wider choice.
- Software piracy can be dramatically reduced. Because FOSS is free or available at a much lower cost than proprietary software, it removes the economic reason for making unauthorized copies of programs. This in turn should reduce the pressure that the United States exerts on countries where piracy is high.
- Programs can be easily localized. Because of the open nature of FOSS, users can readily modify the software to suit the unique requirements of a particular cultural region, regardless of its economic size. In contrast, proprietary software companies will not localize a program unless there are enough buyers to make it worth their while.
My other thoughts of this are at Technopinoy.