Open Letter to Members of the European Parliament on Free Software and the Free Software Pact

On Friday 31 January 2014, April sent an open letter to all Members of the European Parliament on Free Software and the European Parliament, in order to take stock of the finishing term and to know what is their project in regards to Free Software.

As European elections will take place at the end of May 2014, this is an opportunity to take stock of the last few years and to offer them to sign the Free Software Pact again.

The Free Software Pact campaign for the 2014 European election was just launched as well. Don't hesitate to contact you future MEPs to inform them about Free Software.

The text of the open letter:

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

April is the French-speaking organisation for the promotion and protection of Free Software. We represent over 3,600 members, Free Software users and producers (individuals, companies, organisations, local governements, etc.).

Since 2007, during every electoral campaign in France and for the European elections, we have wanted to the raise awareness of future elected officials around issues related to Free Software and a free, open, innovative, and inclusive digital society. These issues cannot be ignored, because they are now at the heart of our society.

In 2009, April launched the first Free Software Pact for the European elections, by asking you to commit to promoting and defending freedoms in the digital world during your term in office.

Many topics related to Free Software have since been part of the debate over the course of the term. From ACTA to the issue of patents, procurement practices and open standards, freedoms in the digital age have often taken center stage in the Hemicycle. April, which regroups citizens, as well as economic players and nonprofits eager to participate in political life, and concerned by issues of freedom in the digital age, was thus mobilised on many issues.

ACTA, the "anti-counterfeiting" trade agreement eventually rejected in 2012, is a telling example: by sacralising DRM, those digital locks that restrict the use of digital works, the agreement could have prevented Free Software users from being able to enjoy works they had legally bought. To a greater degree, ACTA was a threat to basic rights online.

Many other issues could also be mentionned: the use (or lack thereof) of open standards, which allows or, on the contrary, prevents citizens from communicating with public administrations via Free Software, or the discriminatory public-procurement practices that demand the use of specific proprietary software to the detriment of any alternative.

Already significant from 2009 to 2014, these stakes are to rise in the near future. Be it in the wake of the revelations about privacy violation perpetrated on European citizens by the United States, or the issue of the technical options chosen by the European Union, or the question of patents, the next MEPs will have to deal with many questions that have a direct impact on free software and freedoms in the digital age.

That's why April is asking MEPs to take a stand on these issues, by signing the Free Software Pact, if you are campaigning for reelection, or by taking stock of your term if you are not running for office again.

The Free Software Pact is a simple document that allows voters to know that you are aware of the issues related to Free Software and that you commit to defend the freedoms that are associated with it.

Here is the Free Software Pact :

In addition to this formal commitment, we invite elected candidates to answer two questions on these issues:

  • Do you intend to sign the Free Software Pact?
  • The matters related to freedoms in the digital age are numerous: copyright, patents, education, international issues, DRM, consumer rights, interoperability, e-administration, accessibility, economics and research, etc. What is your Free Software/Free Society project?

We also invites MEPs not running for reelection to answer the following questions:

  • Following your term, what is your assessment of Free Software in the European Parliament?
  • What suggestions or recommandations would you make to future MEPs?

This is not a comprehensive list of questions; you can of course elaborate on your positions, to flesh out what your social project is in the digital age.

The issues of freedoms in a digital age are increasingly prevalent politically, socially, and throughout the media. This is why we're eager to know where you stand.