The Role of OSS for the Development of Information Society

By EDRi · November 8, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The conference “The Role of Open Source Software for the Development
of Information Society” was held in Yerevan, capital of Armenia from 31
October to 1 November 2006. The conference aimed at the exchange of
experience in open source promotion policy and in the use of open source
software in specific areas such as public administration and education.

The Conference was organised by the Center for Information Law and Policy
(CILP) and was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations
from Eastern Europe (Macedonia and Bulgaria), CIS countries (Russia,
Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan), and Armenian
officials responsible for the development of information policies.

Ms. Larisa Minasyan, director of Open Society Institute Assistance
Foundation – Armenia, noted that “EU integration is a big open source
project” in which member countries consider solutions to change the way
they function.

Presenting the free and open source software situation in Armenia, Ms.
Taguhi Tumayan, CILP, noted that one of the main issues is the lack of
comprehensive applied policies. The good news is that international donors
ask for use of licensed software and 79% of the universities in Armenia use
Free and Open Source Software for e-learning applications.

Presenting the applied policies in Eastern Europe, Ms. Julia Velkova,
ISOC Bulgaria, noted that publishing laws under free licenses can be
considered as a step towards the development of appropriate applied
policies. She stressed the high value of Free and Open Source Software in
education and in the creation of added value in local economy.

She presented State ICT Agency in Bulgaria as an example. The ICT
Agency creates a register of open source projects that can be used by the
governmental bodies. The municipalities use Linux due to the outdated
hardware, despite the fact that the Government has bought MS Windows XP
licenses. Ms. Velkova said the Extremadura region in Spain developed its own
Linux version for the project within which a computer is provided for each
two students in primary school.

Mr. Filip Stojanovski, Metamorphosis Foundation representative,
presented the Macedonian experience in applied policies development through
the example of National Strategy for Development of Information Society,
the situation in local self-government units in Macedonia with the research
conducted in May and June 2006, as well as innovative ways for raising
awareness for free and open source software, and Get Your Job Done CD that
has notable public reaction.

Speaking of Governmental OSS Policies, Mr. Asomiddin Atoev, Director
of the Civil Initiative on Policy of Internet from Tajikistan referred to
CSIS report Global Policies on OSS, adding that “a major difference between
FOSS and proprietary software (PS) is in the way they provide access to the
benefits of information society.” While PS promotes consumption and
passivity of the users, FOSS turns the users into developers”. He mentioned
the examples of Tajikistan, whose e-Strategy considers FOSS as a tool to
narrow the growing digital divide, and Singapore, where the state provides
tax incentives for organizations using FOSS.

Comprehensive public debates on the use of the free and open source
software in education and public administration, as well as related legal
framework and implications were organised during the second day of the
conference. Major issues were discussed through concrete experiences:
training and retraining of users, which depends on whether they are thought
to use technologies and not individual products (Mr. Atoev); lack of
individual motivation of government employees, especially teachers, to
increase their IT skills level in Kazakhstan (Mr. Alexader Borovitsin from
Information Initiatives Foundation); need for increased usability (Mr.
Vyacheslav Baharev from Kiberkultura Kazakhstan); example of extensive use
of localized FOSS in the Armenian Army, aimed at untrained recruits who
don’t know English (Mr. Ruben Muradyan of Public TV Company of Armenia); and
copyright and/or patenting of software and algorithms in the legal framework

In the closing session of the conference, Mr. David Sandukhchyan from
CILP underlined the general impression that the conference had a productive
knowledge exchange and it was a basis for networking of stakeholders from
the wider region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Open Source Policy Conference

(Contribution by Filip Stojanovski – EDRI-member Metamorphosis – Macedonia)