Welcome to the United Nations | Department of Economic and Social Affairs


OCTOBER 23, 2013
11:00 a.m.
WS 287


This text is being provided in a rough draft format.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.


>> Can everyone please come closer so that we can have an interaction at the end.

You can take the front seat.

Please come here.

Okay, good afternoon, ladies and gents.

Good morning, ladies and gents.

Sorry, it's a little bit dark here

I thought it was night.

Welcome to our thematic session on FOSS smart choice for the developing countries.

My name is Omar Mansoor Ansari, and I'm board director of the open aligns and president of tech nation.

Open source alliance of central Asia, OSACA, is a consortium of open source software users in central Asia, in south, Asia, and it is a technology found based in Kabal that engaged in technology, community, media, management regulatory advisory and aps development.

This workshop raises awareness on open source software, open standards, open systems, and open platforms and open data in content.

The panel includes experienced leaders in open source from Europe, central Asia and south Asia.

There are speakers including Sunil Abraham, a Bangalore based entrepreneur, founded AP in 1999 that aims to reduce cost and complexity of information communication technology for voluntary sector by using free software.

Sunil is currently working as executive director of the center for Internet and society India.

Dominique Lazankski, she's a U.K. based policy and strategy freelance consultant and works on policy for GSMA and previously worked for taxpayers' aligns.

She worked in Silicon Valley for Yahoo, e bay, and Apple, and Dominique said on the open data user port and the cabinet office and the tax transparency board in HMRC in the U.K.

Roxana Radu is a pH di can't date in international relations political science at the graduate institute of international and development studies in gen eva, Switzerland, and a rye search fellow at the center for media and communication studies, central European university in Hungary.

She worked with CMCS, open society foundation and global development network.

The session will be around one and a half hour long.

Each speaker will have about ten minutes, and we'll have a full ten minutes for Q&A and open discussion.

Before we go to the speakers, I'd like to present some background on the Free and Open Source Software.

In order to those participants who don't know much about the Free and Open Source Software, they have some information about what it is.

Yep, thanks.

As you can see in the slide, the first thing we need to discuss is open source and what it is.

There's something that can be modified because of its design is publicly available and accessible.

And initially when software is created, with source code available for modification or enhancement, it's called open source.

Open source, what does that mean when a software has its source code open for modification, that is called open source software.

Source code, as you know, is part of the program that is not seen by the common user.

In some software this is open, developers can access it, or the users can access it, and some software they cannot access it.

Like in software that takes file, it doesn't have the ability to open a file or open or close a file, but there's a small program in the background that runs and gives the text ability to open a file.

Open source, what are the different softwares.

There's some software where the source code cannot be modified by anyone but the person or team that has created the software.

In this software, the producer maintains exclusive control over the software, and they are called closed source or proprietary software.

Examples are Microsoft Word and photo shop CS, as you see it on the picture.

Another type of software that also makes its source code available to others, to view the code, copy it, learn from it, and alter or share it with others.

These softwares are called open source software, Free and Open Source Software, or free lead wear open source software.

Examples are libber office, and renew image manipulation program.

Open source is about license.

In 1998, only before that, the idea came up that the software source code needs to be open for modification and sharing and learning.

That means that nearly unlimited right to read, modify, and redistribute the source code. And this was 1998 when the concept further developed and people started developing software where the source code is open to different users.


Okay, open source software is not only about Liber office or GIMP.

You would see a list of software like Mfos, microfinance software. Mididi is environmental monitoring software. Matsas is a human rights worker source notetaking software.

Sana disaster relief coordination software, and school tool is for student information system, and there are hundreds of software you can find projects and list of software over the Internet.


Why people use open source software. Because they have more control over their software, they can examine the code, and they can change part of the software without asking for permission, and they can use the software for any purpose.

And it helps them become better programmers.

They can share their work with others. They can, open source software is more secure and stable.

The user can view and modify parts of the program.

And many programmers can work together without taking any permission from anyone on developing or modifying the software.

And open source software is fixed and updated and upgraded quicker than the proprietary software.

And very important aspect is that it encourages collaboration and community engagement

I think that is all about the open source background.

So I'll go to our first speaker, Dominique.


>> Ms. Lazankski: Hi, I work at the GMSA, but most recently before that I was at tax payer's alliance, a civil society group and think tank that campaigned for lower taxes and transparency.

As a result of that I joined the open data user group, which I'm going to talk about today.

The open data user group is part of the U.K. cabinet office which has the agenda for delivering transparency, which includes things like open data, accountability, government accountability. Also the open government partnership which I'll talk a little bit about towards the ends of my presentation.

So when the new government came into the U.K. in 2010, open data and transparency was quite a large push for them.

They wanted to realize not only the economic benefits and economic growth benefits, but also benefits to a wider society.

So the open data user group was founded about just over a year ago actually, in order to put together a multi‑stakeholder group to advocate across departments, primarily central government. And that group includes now in its second year, includes civil society, big and small businesses including start‑ups, academics, as well as government officials and the charity sector too.

So there's a wide range of people with a wide range of experiences.

We had to apply to be on the group last year, and the application process just happened again.

It's a one‑year term.

The chair is a three‑year term.

So effectively, though, even though we're aligned and sitting in the cabinet office, our rema is to push government effectively, to really try and get as much data open as possible and advocate for that on behalf of all users, not just in business, but also civil society and across open data communities in the U.K.

So we look at open data as being government held data that is tax payer funded and would be licensed if opened under what we call the open government license or OGL, which among other things means that it's free to reuse to everyone.

So as part of the whole process, this multi stakeholder group, we meet about once every six weeks approximately. Over the summer it was a little more.

We have a very open and transparent process.

In order to apply, we had to apply openly and all of our applications went on line publicly.

Once we were accepted on to the program, everything was published including our interests, backgrounds, what we want to get out of it, and also then all the meeting which are held in various different locations, people volunteer their meeting rooms on the group.

All of the notes and all of the minutes are open and available for everyone to have a look at or download if they want.

So what do we actually do?

We advocate, obviously, data to be open that's held by the government.

How that works is through a process of both negotiation and business cases.

And the business cases are really really tricky because as you know, part of open data is you don't actually know what is going to happen or who is going to use the data until it's released.

And so it's been quite a challenge because many of us on the board really believe that we should open as much as possible, including myself, we should open as much as possible and kind of see what happens and what becomes of that.

But the government, especially the inland revenue and HMRC, are keen to understand what the possible economic benefits are as well as social benefits.

So we have put together business cases for every kind of data sets that we have been advocating for.

These data sets that we advocate to be released are sets that have been requested by users.

Again, that can be everyone from credit reference agencies, quite large groups, to individual people who are doing start‑ups.

So some examples of that over the last year, I have worked on the VAT registration, which is the value added tax registration data.

Not the actual financial data, but the registration data and metadata we advocated to be released.

And I led the process for writing the business case for that and working with a number of companies, credit reference agencies in particular, as well as about four or five start‑ups in London, who want the data in order to inform their business, either for credit making, obviously, for credit reference agencies, or we have a number of small start‑ups that are interested in trust on line and interested in making products around users who are able to understand what businesses are local to their areas.

As part of that process, I took feedback from everyone that I could gain feedback from, including open data user group and possible people that would use the data, and I held an open meeting for people. We have an open data institute.

And I held it there.

And that is sort of an example of the process that we went through.

And it was part of a wider consultation that we responded to and is now being reviewed by HMRC, and we will hear probably next month about the results of that consultation.

The other two I'm going mention examples that open data user group worked on, was for us the post CODA dress file which is the nationally held and updated file for post codes, but government created, created from ryel mail which is private, but the data was created by tax payer funds.

We have been advocating to release that file.

You can imagine a number of people are very interested and keen to have that open and available.

It's available for quite an expensive license fee right now. Companies like Google and other professional mapping companies can use it, but a lot of people are keen to have it to be able to validate addresses, obviously, and make map products.

And finally one other thing around that is historical land registry data which is really useful for individuals buying houses and also insurance and various other things. We advocated for that to be free. And the land registry released historical data recently. It was easy to do. They didn't want a business case, they just did that. We worked with them to get that open as quickly as possible.

We have a lot of ongoing work similar to the examples, health data is a big one right now because of the National Health Service, but obviously there are tensions and a lot of balances we need to address there terms of privacy, which I think will be a big issue because we released data set that had no privacy implications over the last year, the government has at least, and coming up will be a lot stickier and thornier issues around what to do.

A lot of discussions are going on but from an open data user group point of view, we need to come to a collective decision about how we're going to deal with that.

All of this actually is a part of a wider process going on in the U.K., and the government across white hall and central government is compiling a national information infrastructure.

So they have a list effectively that they are asking each department to give to them that discusses data sets that they held that are either open or not open.

This includes everything from the Ministry of Defense to the home office to the Foreign Office.

The process of this is is to identify all of the data that they might not know about, people might not know about, users might not be able to know about requesting.

This is part of the agenda to start of get the transparency agenda delivered before the next election.

It's been a really big process that has been going on.

And the list, the official list, the full list will be announced at the open government partnership conference, which is October 31 and November 1.

The U.K. is the cochair of the Open Government Partnership, which as you know advocates across the world for a number of countries and organizations in countries from civil society and businesses, as well as others, for openness and transparency.

That conference is going to focus on best practices and one of the subsets will be this announcement from the U.K. government on the national information infrastructure.

I'm going stop there.

I wanted to finally say one last thing.

The open data user group and all the data requests as well as all the open data sets and eventually all the data sets identified under the National Information Infrastructure is available on data.gov.U.K.

It's going through redesign right now but if you have a look, you'll be able to see a lot more about open data in the U.K.

>> Thank you, Dominique.

Now I'll go to our next speaker, Sunil, you have the floor.


>> Sunil Abraham: .

Thank you, first perhaps I'll introduce you to the city I come from, Bangalore.

There are possibly three cities that have the name in the English dictionary, the city of Shanghai, and to be Shanghaied means that you were drugged and then kidnapped and then put on a ship as slave labor.

The second is Coventry, to be sent to Coventry means you have been sent to jail.

And the third city in the English dictionary is the kit of back lower, and to the Bangalored means you had a job in the developed world, then you lost your job, and your job traveled to the developing world.

That is the city I come from.

Unfortunately, despite its reputation as the Silicon Valley of India, most of the people that work in the software industry are cyber coolies, or cyber slaves.

This is because they are educated in universities where they are never taught the internals of operating systems or software. They are only taught how to operate software.

And therefore, Bangalore's business model is mostly based on labor arbitrage. The software companies in India don't produce any intellectual property.

All the trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights associated to the products that they develop belong to the companies that contract them from the developed world.

So when we introduce the concept of free software to these companies, they say why would we do that? How are we going to make money by using free software?

What they don't realize is that Apple is the most successful free software company on the planet.

Apple bases its product on a Free and Open Source Software called BSD.

There's a lot of free software packed into Apple's operating system. It always ships with item and Apache and samba.

The proprietary layer on top of the BSD operating system is what Apple owns intellectual property to.

This is in complete compliance with the free software licenses, and that is why Apple is not sued by the software freedom law center.

Therefore, for countries like India which are way behind when it comes to generating their own intellectual property, free software acts as a bootstrap mechanism to get a viable business model going.

The second reason why Indian universities and engineering schools should teach free software, apart from turning computer operators into computer scientists, is to prevent Balkanization of the labor force.

When you join a Bangalore based software industry, you are often asked to sign nondisclosure agreements, you are taught proprietary technology, often specific to that particular enterprise.

When you leave that enterprise, your skills are completely useless. You join the next enterprise, you have to sign another nondisclosure agreement, and there's no public accord of your contribution, as could be the case if you would also contributing to a free and open source software project apart from producing proprietary intellectual property.

The important thing for us to remember in the global south is that the government is very important procurer of software, often counts for 50 percent of the sales target of large proprietary software vendors, and therefore software procurement policies by the government can have a huge impact in configuring domestic industry.

These policies can be explicit policies, and there are research organizations that have counted more than 290 free software policies both at the national and state level across the world. But in India we follow what we call perhaps a Tacit free software mandate.

If we were to explicitly have free software policy, that might upset some of the proprietary software giants that have partners with the Indian software industry. Therefore, occasionally the government will make some statements, but there is no explicit policy.

The way this works, it really helps in the negotiation table. So the state of TamalAbu pitched the vendor against the proprietary giant and was able to convince the giant to provide both the engine and the default office suite for one dollar each to reach the same price point offered by the free software competitor.

You have to ask yourself as a nation whether you want an explicit policy mandating free software under certain circumstances, or whether you want a more ambiguous nonstated policy as is the case with India, that helps you on the negotiation table.

When it is the case that in governments we cannot compromise on free software.

Let me give you an alternative definition of free software.

Free software is like my shirt. If I want to wear it and come to this meeting, I have the freedom to do so. If I want to take it to the beach, if I want to use it to go to the beach, that is absolutely fine. That is the first freedom, the freedom of use.

Suppose I decide that this is a boring shirt, I don't like the color or the sleeves, I want to cut the sleeves off and dye it pink, I have the freedom to modify my shirt. That is the second freedom.

If I want to change my job from a civil society activist at Internet governance forums and I want to become a fashion designer instead, I want to reverse engineer the shirt and understand how shirts are produced, again, I have that freedom. That is the third freedom.

And suppose one of you came to this meeting shirtless and I felt that I would like to share my shirt with you, either for free or for a fee, then I can share my shirt. That is my fourth and final freedom.

The third freedom or second freedom, as Richardson would put it, the freedom to reverse engineer, or study, is the most important freedom when the government has systems on your freedom.

In the U.S. a gentleman was driving under the influence of alcohol, he was taken to court, evidence was provided from a proprietary breath analyzing hardware which uses proprietary breath analyzing software.

The court dismissed the evidence saying that there was no way of independently auditing the code and arriving at the same conclusion that the person was drunk, then the evidence would be nonadmissible in his court.

So you can see in certain areas it is super critical.

Election voting machines is another area where this freedom within free software is super critical.

In India we have a very big free software project, the AI project, the unique identify project built on a software stack, supposed to provide central identification management based on biometrics

I have serious reservations about that project, but from a privacy perspective.

From free software it sounds mostly like a good idea. If you interrogate the project closely, you will come to the conclusion the key component of the software is that part that is responsible for identification and authentication, is proprietary, and therefore it interferes with the most important rights in India, to be a citizen, and that is where adopting free software is not an option for the government, it has to be the case.

And in those specifications civil society must push for mandates so that it does not interfere with our fundamental human rights. Otherwise (breaking up).

Thank you.

>> (Applause).

>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: Thank you for the excellent presentation.

Now we will move to Roxana, our next speaker.


>> Thank you, my presentation will focus on women empowerment with Free and Open Source Software from a social perspective, outlining the potential and the challenges around involving more women developers in FOSS.

My intervention will discuss this with reference to Eastern Europe and central Asian context.

And I will conclude with some directions for policy development that we can all work towards, hopefully, in the near future.

While the gender gap in access to Internet varieses massively across the world, for the largest part of the developing countries the percentage of women on line is far lower than that of men on line.

In Eastern Europe and central Asia approximately 30 percent fewer women than men have access to Internet.

According to the recent women on the web report, the reverse is happening in countries like France and the U.S. where women tend to be more present on line than men, so the numbers exceed that of male participants on line.

Yet in places like sub sahara Africa, the gaps are 45 percent.

It's estimated 100 million girls and women are not on the Internet at all, making this group 25 percent less likely will be on line.

In the this regard it's important to look beyond the availability of connection itself and to take into account the affordability of price. This is one of the reasons women are not accessing at the same extent as men are, for example.

Currently for the commonwealth of independent states, the price of the average broadband monthly subscription reaches 7.3 percent of the annual per capita income, relatively great disparity between the rural and urban areas.

First in terms of broadband availability itself, and second in terms of gender roles in the house. As in men being the person to bring the money in the family, and thus decide on how the family income should be spent.

Apart from the physical connection that facilitates access to the Internet, there's also a need to investigate engagement of women with the use and development of software.

As we know, software is not neutral, but rather than gendered in both design and use. That is embedding a series of behavioral standards.

In 2006 according to a study of the European commission, only 1.6 percent of all FOSS developers in the EU were women.

This is lower than two percent, and thus relatively worrisome, especially compared to proprietary software.

Since for the latter women engagement reached 28 percent for the same time period that the survey investigated.

The FOSS community of course has a lot to gain from the different approaches that women might take to software development, and I'm going to discuss this one specifically.

This potentially is almost completely side lined at the present moment by a series of challenges both mostly to women developers.

The main pressure is through the cycle of disparate to be sure technology is developed, keeping in mind the community at large.

And this is also thinking of those who need it the most, which is low income populations as well as rural based population.

The second challenge would be overcoming the restrictive gender norms in certain parts of the world, and going beyond the myth of techno phobia that women are less technologically savvy than men are.

In this case developing an context fostering women's involvement would be the most successful avenue for increasing the number of women in FOSS.

A third major challenge is that of including more women in decision and policy making processes, as women are able to speak relatively different audience than men are, are also able to think through the challenges both through the larger communities, look at the benefits for the next generation, as well as bringing diversity and innovative ways, given a seat at the table and a voice in the process.

At the same time women empowerment understood as the capacity to alter structure or conditions in order to govern ones in the best interest, presupposes women are not treated as a mono lithic group, as being all the same, but rather need to be seen as diverse group with differences across cultures and across contexts.

Regionally for the commonwealth of independent states we have a configuration of structural conditions that reflect both the potential and also the pitfalls of advancing women empowerment in FOSS.

On the one hand, there are high diversity rates.

With only slight variation by gender. Almost the entire population is literate in these countries.

On the other hand, the computer education lags behind with the material starting in school being most of the times basic or outdated, meaning those who consider doing a career in developing software need to do a lot of work by themselves independent of the larger community.

Third is also the context of limited windows of opportunities for consistent and sustainable involvement of women.

So even though there might be certain initiatives to involve women more, these initiatives tend to be one‑shot rather than long‑term processes.

Outlining this challenges also brings me to discussing some of the policy directions and some potential (breaking up) (audio glitch) (Skype loss connection. Trying to reconnect).


To start quite late. This is one of the disadvantages they face in joining this community at the older ages.

In the FOSS community there's the need to work by yourself quite a lot, which might be one of the big obstacles preventing women from engaging more.

In the second place, there is a need for an integrated approach that would go beyond just approaching women into interacting with women, boys and men at different ages, and teaching them also what it means to have women involved in the FOSS community and the FOSS processes.

Third, there's a need to create a policy making infrastructure that gives priority also to women.

As FOSS is becoming more and more used for governmental operation, it is likely to become the standard in the future for all government websites.

There is an urgent need to involve women in such processes, which involve segments of the population which might have differentiated needs which might have not been accounted for so far.

Last but not lease there's a need for sustainability initiatives. That should be constant support and would enhance innovation

I will stop here. I do hope that we can all work towards these in the pulse 2015 development agenda.

>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: Thank you very much, Roxana.

>> (Applause).

>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: Now the floor is open for an open discussion.

If you have any questions, discussions, an idea that you with like to share, please raise your hand, introduce yourself, and yes, please.



>> Hello, thank you very much, my name is Amparo Ballivain, I work with the World Bank on clients and their open data initiatives

I have two questions, one for Ms. Lazankski and one for Mr. Sunil.

The question for Ms. Lazankski is the following.

(Breaking up).


(Breaking up).

Thank you.

The same model I think could be highly useful in the countries that we're trying to support.

So the question is, do you see a way to involve you in our work with other countries so that you can provide them advise on how to create the multi‑stakeholder groups in the developing world where open data is just initiating, and how would you go about it.

And please, I hope that I become your friend because I think there's a long scope after this meeting to work together.

And to Mr. Sunil is the following.

Within the bank there's an ongoing discussion, it's not bank policy yet, but we are hoping that not too distant future it will become bank policy, about whether as a matter of policy every project that the World Bank finances in the world, that finances software in one way or another, can be location project, transport project, climate change e doesn't matter. A myriad of sectors.

We constantly are financing the development of software.

The idea is that every software that is financed with bank funds should be open free source. Because what is happening is that you have, say that you have a software for public budget management in Bangladesh, and the bank has a project that finances that.

Then you have something that is exactly the same in Uruguay.

Why would you opportunity to develop the same thing twice?

So that is the idea.

Long way to ask the question, do you know of any precedents at the national level for such a policy.

>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: Okay we can take a few questions, and after that, you, sir, and then you.

After that, you.

Is there a mike?

Gentleman in the second row first.

And you, and you are the third.

>> Thank you, my name is nasa can tanna, I'm with Microsoft in east Africa.

Actually one comment and one question.

The comment is around the sort of confusion in the panel around open data versus open source software

I see no relationship between those beside the fact that perhaps we can use open source software to do open data, which we don't need to use open source software to do open data

I see them as separate different things.

That is one comment.

But back to your question which, the point that has remained about Apple which is really interesting, the fact that Apple is actually, part of their success is the fact they are using VSD

I see one of the successes of Apple is that they have one million aps in their store.

And innovation that is coming from the ap store, you know, developers go and build applications for the ap store, is fascinating.

It's unique in the history to some extent, in a very short time.

And I don't know of many of those millions, the million of aps that are open source, where actually those developers have decided to provide their intellectual property to the industry.

In fact they did not.

And many of them.

So they might use open source developing environment to do that, but the point, the matter of fact is the code they are developing is not open source, which is where the innovation is coming from.

The point I'm trying to make is innovation can come from closed source software, from start‑ups and giants, as you said, but also from, you know, and also, you know, from people that have decided to provide open source.

The question is how do you create a sustainable environment for innovation and growth and job creation if we are looking only at open source as environment.

This is my question.

>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: We'll take one more question, then you can respond.

After that, you please.

>> Thank you, my name is Nicholas, Internet society aim ambassador from Paraguay.

There was a question raised by the lady from the World Bank on why those kind of things happen, like selling the same kind of software to 12 different countries.

In our case in Paraguay the answer is very simple, because it's very good business for that company.

You know, selling the same kind of software to 12 different ministries.

You know, that is one hand.

On the other hand, relating, there was another question about, I forgot, but basically my point is that the answer is very good business to sell, I mean closed software.

Now, if we were talking about open source software, that wouldn't have happened, you understand, especially in poor or developing countries, you know. And for the representatives of those big companies that make very good business selling the same kind of software, like 20 or 15 times, you know, to 12 or 15 different ministries.

Then two or three years after, renewing, you know, the licenses.

You know, renovating, I don't know the word.

Thank you.


Dominick, you.

>> Ms. Lazankski.

To the gentleman from Microsoft, I wanted to say I think you are touching on a point about where open is being used quite a lot between open source and open data

I understand that. There's a lot of confusion in general about what open means.

For the purpose of this panel, I think there's a wider agenda that we're addressing.

And that is what we have talked about.

Hopefully we can address the other issues to the discussion.

In a more, on a greater point, the World Bank, I believe the World Bank has just signed an agreement, a memorandum of understanding with the Open Data Institute, which do you know about that?

I think it just happened.

You do, okay.


>> (Off microphone).

>> Ms. Lazankski: A lot of that is coming out around the open government partnership next week.

However, they focus on skills building more than multi‑stakeholder approaches to open data

I think one of the things I have been talking about with people in the community is that the open data user group is a group that no one really talks about outside of the community within the U.K.

I think this is a problem with it, and it's one of the reasons why I talk a lot about it.

Because it's another example of multi‑stakeholder approach, quite frankly.

It's slightly different in that there's only a limited number of people.

It's not open and inclusive, which in some ways I think there should be more people on the group.

But I think it is really interesting way to deal with open data and to deal with targeting what users want, versus just more general approach.

Again, I would rather have as much data open from the government as possible.

But we really do try to address some other issues

I look forward to possibly talking to you a little bit more about it after this session.




>> Sunil Abraham: .

Addressing the questions that the lady from the World Bank asked, I'd like to also answer question number one, which is national open data policies

I had the good fortune to contribute through U.N. DP to policy development in Iraq, and I facilitated the drafting of Iraq's GIF, government interoprability framework, which is a pseudofree software or open software policy.

More recently I helped them with the open data policy, called public data policy. That is still in draft form. And it would be excellent if you could give us some of your feedback, given your international expertise.

I'd love to share the draft policy with you so that you could give me some support.

When it comes to funding the development of software, and if there's precedent for countries or a group of countries mandating that when software development is funded using public resources, that the resultant intellectual property should be freely available to the public, I think there's definitely precedent.

The NIH in the U.S., when it funds health related research, the final academic paper has to be open access, and also the software developed using NIH funded has to be open source using the license.

If you look at European Union and FP calls, these often result in billions of dollars of funding for research.

Again, it is part of the contract that you sign with the European Union that the license the software developed should be under free or open source software license.

IDRC, international development research center in Canada, this is also part of their grant agreement.

So this is now increasingly becoming a trend.

But I'd like to request that is not sufficient.

You have to incentivize standing on the shoulders of giants.

You have to incentivize collaborative work.

If one of your grantees or partners is able to build their project on existing code, then there should be some incentive mechanism ideal, even financially.

Only that will lead to cumulative growth.

Otherwise we will have a lot of code available in the public domain, but people will not be incentivized to build on the work of others because so far the donor community very broadly incentivizes us to be unique, not to demonstrate commons, not to behave there a cooperative fashion.

We need that additional twist to the funding policy.

This is now the baby step, but we need to start to run.

The question from the gentleman from Microsoft, years ago when I used to work for the UNDP at the regional bureau in Bangkok, at an initiative hosted by the initiative development program, the initiative was called International Open Source Network, and we did three software open content and open standards policy work in 42 countries, in Iran to Fiji.

At that point Microsoft resisted the work that was done at U.N.

There was the idea that this is some kind of communist model, that this was some kind of cancer.

But today in Bangalore at the Microsoft office, the PHP community, which is very important free software community, meets for their month will I meetings. Microsoft gives cake and coffee and tea.

So Microsoft is actually growing the free software community in India, and Microsoft also annually releases millions of dollars, millions of lines of code under free and open source licenses.

So I was not making the case that the government should mandate behavior in the market.

In the market people should be allowed to choose whatever it is that they want to choose.

But when it comes to its own procurement, especially in areas of procurement which has direct implications on citizenship and direct implications on human rights, on that subset, we need mandates. Because if I were to be put into prison because of proprietary software or my government said I was though longer a citizen because of proprietary software, I would like to reserve the right to audit that software

I was making a very specific case for a very limited part of government.

I'm not saying we should run nuclear power on free software that is not mature, I'm not entering with the market.

I'm making a very specific case for part of the government.

This segues beautifully into Nicholas, I presume, the gentleman who asked the question about how can governments prevent the same entity from selling software repeatedly to different departments or different ministries.

There are two types of software, software that Microsoft produces, which we call COSS, commercial off the shelf software, and you have no choice, have you to buy again and again.

Another category is called B spoke, software that is made specifically for your requirements.

If you look carefully at your copyright law, national copyright law, this will come under works for hire.

(Lost Skype connection. Trying to establish connection).


>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: We will take three more questions.

You first and then you.

Any more questions.

(Trying to establish Skype connection).


>> (Standing by).


>> Okay, my question is actually according to the open data.

Our government has announced a new regulation that government bodies should exchange data in ODF, open government format, just recently.

The fact is there are still many people out there in the government that are using another format of documents.

So it's quite a difficult implementation then.

I want to hear your opinions, especially from you, from the U.S.

Dominique, right?

And how can we, how can we solve these problems, and do you see the future of open document format in real sense.

Thank you very much.

>> .

>> I'm Prakash from Malaysia, representing human rights organization.

Just to look at another perspective, the end user, there's a greater concern and worry on the software being used by activities by common user, that when it's close and they don't know what the application is doing.

For the second layer is the mobile applications.

Also a small community developing open source mobile aps.

And also the charting applications, the code is close.

Anyone from China can raise your hand, representing government?

Of course a lot of report that governments using these web chat applications, recording all the conversations and listening or tapping on civilians.

So for us, I think the first thing we have to like promote and encourage the use of free and open softwares.

Of course even the operating system, in that space OS.

And the second thing, there should be more discussion on different stakeholders, the business of software industries, big corporations, and how they can also support civil society and activities to develop open software that can help and support the work.

Of course there's a lot of web softwares available now like platforms and open street map.

These are the things

I think the constant on the communities, when it gets close, there's a lot of higher possibility of tracking and using the data to prosecute the activities for human rights defenders themselves.

>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: Do we have more questions?



>> Sunil Abraham: I thought since I love stories, I'll just tell my favor it Malaysia story.

There's a politician in a region called Jeff EUI who used to be a blogger, used to run a website called screen shots or something like that.

He used to have a series, a network of informants, he used to call them little birds. And the little birds were anonymous informers that would leak to Jeff stories of corporate and government corruption.

And Jeffrey used to cover these stories in his blog.

How can he have completely confidential yet authenticated communication with his little birds, that is only possible using free and open source software.

That would not be possible using proprietary software because the little bird would not be able to independently verify, either themselves or through a technically competent friend, I know the Malaysian community is very good, whether there's spy software to communicate with Jeff.

There are some areas of our life where it is not an option. The and some people for which it is not an option anymore.

So thank you so much for bringing up this question from a human rights perspective.

Perhaps also to segue into the concern over gender in the open source movement.

It isn't as if free software is emancipatory in all its dimensions.

When it comes to gender, free software is even more patriarchal than the proprietary software world.

Free software has done a lot of violence, the movement has done a lot of violence against women at its events, it's mailing list.

Fortunately some communities are becoming more sensitive.

It isn't unqualified good.

Same thing with open content, not enough women.

It isn't an unqualified good.

It's a mostly good thing, but there are some very dark and evil sides to free software as well. Some of the most important free software harkers have joined the NSA, so the free software community is now building the global infrastructure build by the free software hackers.

>> Ms. Lazankski.


I'm going to talk about something more boring and go back to the format.

I'd like to say the U.K. government across central government is releasing everything in a readsable format, but it's not.

It's something they are definitely working on, and obviously we still give them quite a hard time for releasing things in pdf's, for example.

However, national information infrastructure will actually account for that and try to see where there are things that are available

I know at the taxpayers' alliance we looked at a lot of spending data, and a lot it was still in pdf

I often say in a lot of the work that I do for central government, I advocate the OECD and World Bank says marginal cost based on release of data.

There's a discussion around did marginal cost cover releasing in a format.

We do see a lot of excel spreadsheets which I'm happier with than pdf at the moment.

The bigger issue in the U.K. is local governments, local councils and local areas don't actually, they actually don't release data as much as central government.

Part of the reason they don't do that, they don't have enough people to help them with it, which is one thing.

But they are sort of afraid to release a lot through pdf because that is all they can do.

We're trying to encourage them to get as much out there as possible and try to get stuff out there first and foremost before we can get concerned with the formats.

It's not a great answer to your question

I think you're further along than we were.

Just so you know, I think the Open Data User Group is focusing on getting data out first.

We will be continuing to have a big discussion around formats and costs.

>> Thank you very much.

More questions.

Yeah, sure.


>> I want to make a comment

I would like to thank you for the point that you are making about our contributions to the open source community.

There's a lot of confusion in the market about Microsoft versus open source, and I'm happy to see that you recognize that as a matter of fact that we are contributing probably more than anybody else in the industry, of the giants, in the open source community.

The reality is we release source code. We are more interested in interoperability, and we would like to be working with the open source communities and others and make our software interopenerable with others.

There's a lot of, there's a fundamental misconception about the open source industry overall about two things.

Which I would like to mention.

One is around the fact that as a company we do not compete with open source as a concept.

We compete with products.

We compete with companies, not with the ideology of open source.

I want to clarify that.

For example, when we compete on the databases world, we compete with Oracle the same way we compete with mind SQL, an open source pathway.

We don't compete because it's open source, it's just because it's a product we compete against same way we do with Oracle and others

I can give other examples.

That is a misconception I wanted to raise.

The other misconception is the one behind business model.

There are different business models.

There's no free lunch.

I want to make sure we agree on it.

There's no free lunch.

And there's no somebody has to pay for some sort of software in a way or another.

When we talk about this world of open source versus commercial or proprietary, et cetera, the reality is we're talking about different business models.

There are people that sell software and people that sell services, people that sell advertising, they give you the software for free.

At some point in time there's no way on earth where software is free in the sense you don't pay. It's free in the sense you can change it, that is one way, but that is something that came up in the discussion, which is the business model behind it.

Somebody is paying in one way or another, you know, the software, at the end of the day.

For example, another example is looking to Google for example.

Google is an interesting example where they use open source in their data centers. They don't release their search engine code, but they sell advertising.

So it's a different business model.

These are different business models at the end, and companies are choosing different business models behind that.

But the question I had, and the one thing I don't sort of agree with you, one statement that you said, there are things that you do only if you have open source.

Like the example they said, actually I don't agree with that at all.

You know, the idea that there's more secure because you have the source code, et cetera.

I don't, you know, you're giving the perception there's a back door in proprietary software, and that is not the case.

Might be the case in some specific cases, but in most cases there are not.

There's no back door in, you know, in code that is not open.

That is one.


>> Sunil Abraham.


I'm a great believer in pluralism, to have choice, and competition, to make us do better.

One of the reasons the open source community has so much collegial and community is there's a big competitor

I worry what would happen if Microsoft would become an insignificant market player. Maybe the open source community would not be so motivated.

So competition is always necessarily a good thing.

I'm not saying that we want to go from the hegemony of proprietary software to the hegemony of open source software. That would be terrible.

Free software products still don't sufficiently take into account the needs of the disabled.

When it comes to accessibility by persons with disability, Microsoft is gold standard and free software is very far from there.

So the freedom to be a slave or the freedom to use proprietary software or the freedom to produce proprietary software is also freeds.

And if the world turned into a place where you didn't have those freedoms, it wouldn't be a better place than where we are today.

The competition between free software products and proprietary products, free software companies and the community and proprietary players, is good, healthy, necessary, to raise the bar, to increase quality.

So definitely, I agree with you there.

When it comes to business models, every single business model that works for a proprietary software company can also be used in an open source software company.

There's no distinction between. If you go with appliances, that works in both camps. If you go with the advertising model, which is what Google is doing, that can work as easily for a free software company and also for a proprietary software company.

So there's no business model that is specific only to a company that is based on free software or proprietary software.

Business software is marvelous

I can't think of an exception whether customization, consultancy, it's all cost.

If you use BSD, license based platforms, you can even produce proprietary software. That is also a possibility.

The final point we must agree to disagree.

Your trust in the fact that your software has no back doors or proprietary software generally has no back doors is based on the principle of security through obscurity.

The idea that free software could be potential more secure is based on the principle of security through transparency.

However, it does not necessarily follow that all open source software is more secure than all proprietary software.

It is on a case‑to case basis.

The only thing that free software or open source software allows for is an independent audit.

There's one way around it for governments, if you are a big government and you want to be absolutely sure that the proprietary software that you are buying is free of back doors, you can ask for either code disclosure, that is one option, and this has happened in many jurisdictions, or you can ask for code escrow.

That means a third party will take the code from the proprietary software company and audit.

So that is the middle ground between security through obscurity and security through transparency.


>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: Do we have any questions.


Thank you very much.

As conclusion, I would like to stress that the reason we are doing workshops like this, introducing the open source platforms, it doesn't mean that we dislike any proprietary platform or hate any of the companies that provide proprietary solutions.

It's only because we would like to introduce alternatives in technology.

So the people who cannot access certain technology, tunes in applications, they are aware of other alternatives.

Especially for the developing world, it's really difficult to buy licenses sometimes.

So the cost is very important.

For students to be able to access, let's say, the source code of the kernel so they can see how it's developed, it's not possible in some software.

It will be more relevant for the computer science students to access that code and learn from it, and possibly build upon that.

So that is the reason we believe in collaboration

I will agree with Sunil and other panelists that it should be an open competitive environment as well as collaborative environment.

We can share information and experiences, and we can work together.

I'd like to thank our panel speakers, Dominique, thank you for taking the time, Roxanna and Sunil, thank you for your contribution and also the participants for coming here and your contributions this morning in this session.

If you have any questions or would like to share any thoughts with the speakers, you can meet them after the meeting, this session, and have a good day.

Thank you very much.


>> (Applause).

(Session ended at 12:25)


This text is being provided in a rough draft format.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.