Free Software To Become A Euro Election Issue

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Free software pact gives supporters something better to vote on than disgust over MP’s expenses

Free software could become an election issue in the forthcoming Euro polls on 4 June, with a group promoting a pact to protect software from government interference.

The Free Software Pact is calling on citizens and candidates standing as MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), to back free software as a way to build a free society.
Around 375 million people will be eligible to vote for 736 MEPs, which make laws and policies that apply across all member states. The Parliament has often considered rules that could jeopardise free software, says the Pact group, so citizens should ask candidates for their views on the issue, and use the pact to “educate candidates”.

“The European Parliament is the venue for crucial talks concerning free software, including software patents, interoperability and net neutrality,” says the pact, in a statement . “It is therefore vital to show election candidates why they should support, and sign, the Free Software Pact.”

“The current UK Government is embarrassingly behind the rest of Europe in formulating public policy on the use of free software,” said Mark Taylor, UK coordinator for the Pact. “For too long the UK has been dependent on the relationship with proprietary software companies like Microsoft, who are hell-bent on keeping our politicians confused on this matter. If you care about this situation, and the resulting cost to our economy, society and political culture, please contact the MEP candidates in your region and ask them to sign the Free Software Pact.” Candidates are listed here.

“Big dangers threaten the freedoms of free software in Europe: software patents, digital restrictions management (DRM), bundled sales and treacherous computing,” said Richard Stallman, founder and president of the Free Software Foundation, and another Pact supporter. “I call on all European citizens who value free software to join this campaign, contact their candidates and have them sign the Free Software Pact.”

Update:Around 118 MEP candidates have already signed, according to the Pact’s site – including two Green Party candidates in the UK

The movement will have a long way to go, as a legal case this week has revealed that Switzerland apparently issued a large contract to Microsoft  without any bidding process.

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