Open Source Bill in the Philippines

Thanks to Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño we might be able to finally have an Open Source Bill in the country. I found the news from the blog Digital Life by Chin Wong.The blog was also able to enumerate six distinct benefits that governments can derive from FOSS which :

1.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.

2.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.

3.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.

4.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.

5.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.

6.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.

I really hope it pushes through. This country needs money to serve the people. And if we do migrate to open source that is going to be big savings in terms of cutting down cost of buying proprietary software. A lot of other projects for the benefit of the Filipino citizens can have the funding it needs then.

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