India to implement open standards
Source: Wikimedia Commons - CCASA The Indian government has agreed a policy on the use of open standards for e-governance. The strategy aims to make all government services accessible to Indian citizens in their locality and ensure the "efficiency, transparency and reliability" of these services. The policy states that, in addition to interdepartmental cooperation and collaboration, this also requires the integration of information from various departments with different computer platforms, which is best achieved with open standards, .
A standard qualifies as an "open standard" if its specification is available with or without a nominal fee. Furthermore, the usage rights for identified patented technologies need to be made available on a royalty-free basis. In an earlier draft of the policy, the same paragraph still said that technologies which are licensed on a "FRAND" basis ("Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory") may also be considered. Members of the Indian open source community have welcomed the clarified and "more balanced" final version of the policy.
However, the policy doesn't completely rule out FRAND licences. For instance, FRAND-based standards may be accepted on an interim basis in cases where a standard that meets all the mandatory characteristics of the policy is not available. In the EU, lobbyists are still arguing about the definition of open standards. In recent discussions in October, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) accused the Business Software Alliance (BSA) of hampering innovation and competition with its demand that patented inventions be included in open standards. The discussions revolve around the revision of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), a framework that is to provide interoperability between e-government services.
(by Stefan Krempl)
(Stefan Krempl / trk)