Call to support free and open standards

By   |  May 16, 2008

The Digital Standards Organization (Digistan) and its supporters are calling on governments around the globe to use only free and open standards. The organisation, which was set up to defend and promote open digital standards, plans to adopt the Hague Declaration on May 21. Organisations and individuals supporting the effort are also being asked to sign the declaration.

The declaration says that while basic human freedoms such as freedom from discrimination, freedom of movement and equal access to public services are established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, digital rights and freedoms are not similarly enshrined. Bob Jolliffe or Freedom to Innovate South Africa, a founder member of Digistan, says that the decision to establish the organisation was an extension of the OOXML standards battle. He says the attempt by Microsoft to have it’s own document format declared an ISO standard was not the first, “nor the last of these types of efforts we will see”.

The Hague Declaration calls on governments to:
1. Procure only information technology that implements free and open standards;
2. Deliver e-government services based exclusively on free and open standards;
3. Use only free and open digital standards in their own activities.

Andy Updegrove, one of the founders of Digistan, says the “basic premise is that as more and more of our basic freedoms (speech, assembly, interaction with government, and so on) move from the real to the virtual world, care must be taken to ensure that our ability to exercise these freedoms is not inadvertently eroded or lost.

“In order to achieve this end at the technical level, we need the type of free and open digital standards that can ensure adoption in many diffferent competing products, prevent vendor capture, and enable implementation in free and open source software as well as proprietary products. If we are successful in creating such standards and achieving their ubiquitous adoption, then we can assure lowest cost solutions and the greatest breadth of choice.”

The declaration will be adopted on May 21 at the Hague. Supporters can sign the declaration here.

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