French “Digital Republic” Public Consultation: Towards a Citizens-First Software Society?

Paris, October 19, 2015. Press release.

The public consultation on France’s Digital Republic bill (La République numérique), which ended on Sunday, October 18, shows a deep-rooted trend in favor of free software, Internet neutrality, and the commons. April would like to thank all those who participated and now awaits the government's response to every one of its proposals.

Among the ten most-voted proposals, several are related to free software. Notably, regarding the use of free software by public administrations, our proposal to make free software the priority came in 3rd. Higher up was a citizen's proposal to “Use free software and GNU/Linux in schools and universities” and, in 9th place, the proposal for “Use of GNU/Linux in administrations”. A proposal to put an end to forced sale of software with computer hardware came in 10th. Several of La Quadrature du Net's proposals were also in the top 10 most supported.

Our proposal “Software source code is an administrative document that can be shared with the public”, which aims to uphold the CADA jurisprudence (French Administrative Documents Access Committee) without creating new obligations for administrations, finished in 7th place. Since the Public Finance General Directorate (DGFiP) still has not complied with the CADA's notice to communicate the source code for the income-tax-calculation simulation software, the government's answer to our proposal is eagerly expected. April remains of course available to discuss any of these proposals with the government.

”The number and quality of the contributions to the government's consultation are a remarkable expression of the expectations people have of software and IT in the service of citizens, an expectation which presupposes the use of free software. This consultation represented a real challenge, and I think it's been largely met. It is now up to the government to show itself to be up to the task and to carefully analyze all the proposals that were made,” declared Frédéric Couchet, April's executive director.

The proposals will now be studied by the French government and, in a few days, we will see whether the government decides to follow through and integrate some of the proposals in the bill introduced in Parliament.