FOSDEM The Open Source Policy Summit is an annual event which attempts to explain the importance of software freedom to governments and policy makers.
The Policy Summit is an annual event organized by the Open Forum Europe, a Brussels nonprofit which describes itself as an “independent think tank which explains the merits of openness in computing to policy makers and communities across Europe.”
This is an important job, but you might be forgiven if you’ve not heard of it before because it has a rather different focus to commercial or community events. While businesses are concerned with things like cost-effectiveness and service-level agreements, the public sector needs to think more about issues such as digital sovereignty.
The governments of nation states need to consider different priorities. For example, if you choose some cloud application for communications or storage, you need to think about where the servers are on which those apps will actually run, and where your data will be stored. Much of the software industry is American, and many PaaS apps use AWS and other cloud providers which are also primarily based in the USA. Given that the largest war in Europe since 1945 is under way not far from the eastern borders of the EU, this is focusing legislators’ minds somewhat.
#opensource #FOSS #government #Europe
This announcement is noteworthy for a variety of reasons, starting with the obvious: it offers an alternative to Microsoft’s (and to a lesser degree Google’s) near monopoly when it comes to enterprise ready collaboration software. Until now, your choices have basically been Microsoft with SharePoint and MS Office, and Google with Drive and Workspace. Now there’s Nextcloud, with the one-two punch of it’s new SharePoint replacement capabilities and Nextcloud Office.
The fact that Nextcloud Enterprise comes with support (including the migration services for removing the pain of moving your data to its new home) at a fraction of the cost of maintaining Microsoft licensing, makes making the move to Nextcloud something of a no-brainer for some.
It’s also available for free, for individuals, small companies, and even enterprises that want to forego support and use the community help and documentation that’s available on Nextcloud’s website.
“Nextcloud’s initiative to offer a digitally sovereign, open-source alternative to Microsoft SharePoint is to be welcomed,” Ralf Sutorius, the lead IT architect for the City of Cologne’s official website said in a statement.
MagentaCLOUD currently hosts the data of about 2 million active users who are working with over 2 billion files containing more than 6 petabytes of data.
#technology #germany #opensource #EU #nextcloud
A video talk given at the recent PyCon conference in Durban about an application developed for National Treasury:
We built an open data visualisation portal for National Treasury – https://vulekamali.gov.za/. Vulekamali had to make a range of structured and semi-structured data, and many other files, easily accessible to everyone in South Africa. And in ways that are meaningful both to experienced data analysts, as well as someone who never did high school accounting.
We built this using Django as a core component that manages and pulls together data from an open source Python data management system (CKAN) and an open fiscal data query platform (OpenSpending).
In this talk we share the architecture and implementation decisions that paid off, and the decisions we still regret, as well as our thoughts on how we could improve on them.
We’ll cover things like building a system to handle partial data, automating bulk file uploads, how hard it is to get people to format data correctly, and giving them helpful feedback automatically.
Source code at https://github.com/vulekamali/static-budget-portal
Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/live/JSfg-H5XIHI
#python #django #nationaltreasury #budget
In August, Philippe Latombe, a member of the French National Assembly, advised Pap Ndiaye, the minister of national education, that the free version of Microsoft Office 365, while appealing, amounts to a form of illegal dumping. He asked the education minister what he intends to do, given the data sovereignty issues involved with storing personal data in an American cloud service.
German data protection authorities came to a similar conclusion in 2019 when they disallowed Microsoft Office 365 in classrooms in the state of Hessen.
#technology #EU #datasovereignty #privay #cloud
Germany’s federal and state data protection authorities (DSK) have raised concerns about the compatibility of Microsoft 365 with data protection laws in Germany and the wider European Union.
Under the GDPR, children below the age of 13 are incapable of consenting to their data being collected, while consent may be given by those with parental responsibility for those under 16 but not younger than 13. When platforms do store data on adults, those customers are meant to be able to request the deletion of their records.
Microsoft has denied that its assessment : “We ensure that our M365 products not only meet, but often exceed, the strict EU data protection laws. Our customers in Germany and throughout the EU can continue to use M365 products without hesitation and in a legally secure manner.”
That statement is not actually a categorical and clear denial of what Germany alleges. But actually my opinion is, if there is concern about any age group using this software for educational purposes, all the concepts (and use) can also be taught using open source LibreOffice and then there is no issue like this. Schools should anyway be teaching concepts and principles, that there are options out there, and to innovate around experimentation, adapting software, etc.
#technology #GDPR #privacy #M365 #Germany
This is an excellent example of a government taking ownership over it’s own hosting and verification. No-one can edit, censor, remove, doubt, etc their posts. They are not reliant on any external country or service for their hosting. It’s all using open source software, too, so no expiring license or foreign sanctions to impede it.
Too many governments, and even corporates, have become reliant on 3rd party hosting services for their social media interactions, often located outside their own countries. They have no contracts in place with those services, ownerships can change, they can be banned because of take-down requests, or for reasons that may not be illegal in their own country.
The French government too had been hosting their own open source Matrix server for fully secure E2EE of messaging with their overseas diplomats.
#technology #mastodon #Germany #opensource
GITOC sub-committee open source user group – Aslam says Nhlanhla is probably very busy right now, but he will discuss it if he sees him in the coming month.
Registration as an NGO gives status to give input to gov entities and possibly request meeting with Nat Treasury – it is now part of the new collaborative online effort on our new Gihub organisation – please give input at https://github.com/opensourceza/saoss_constitution.
Suggestion to have an awards page on our website for SA companies that have promoted or furthered open source. These could be nominated in the discussion forums for discussion and agreement by members. Not discussed in November.
We discussed listing SA companies/individuals who are actively contributing to key open source projects, or who maintain their own such open source projects. We also discussed promoting open source projects which are actively supported so that SA companies or Gov could provide support. But we agreed that moderating and highlighting this on the website could be a lot of work, so it was agreed we create an organisation on Github where open collaboration will be easier. Github is designed for global collaboration and moderation of efforts. So https://github.com/opensourceza has been created. Right now it only has the Constitution draft on it (whoops I actually named this incorrectly) but we’re looking to crowd source suggested projects, contributors, etc all in this organisation.