The Bulgarian Parliament has passed amendments to its Electronic Governance Act which require all software written for the government to be open source and developed in a public repository.Article 58a of the Act states that administrative authorities must include the following requirements in its tenders for procuring software:
When the subject of the contract includes the development of computer programs, computer programs must meet the criteria for open-source software; all copyright and related rights on the relevant computer programs, their source code, the design of interfaces, and databases which are subject to the order should arise for the principal in full, without limitations in the use, modification, and distribution; and development should be done in the repository maintained by the agency in accordance with Art 7c pt. 18.
Bozhidar Bozhanov, advisor to the Bulgarian deputy prime minister, noted in a blog post that this means, Whatever custom software the government procures will be visible and accessible to everyone. After all, it’s paid by taxpayers money and they should both be able to see it and benefit from it.
Fans of free and open-source software are rejoicing the news but while this is a promising advance, don’t expect a major change says Devin Coldewey on a post over on Techcrunch. The law only affects government-commissioned software, and existing license agreements are still intact. This isn’t going to trigger a mass migration to Ubuntu or LibreOffice.
Other countries that have adopted open source tools include France, Norway, Brazil and the US; hopefully, other countries will follow Bulgaria in the coming years.