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30 January 2012, 11:41

Open source software powers EU petition initiative

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Open source software is at the heart of a European Commission initiative to allow European's a voice through Europe-wide petitions. At a conference in Brussels on 26 January, the European Commission officially launched its European Citizens' Initiative, due to come into effect on 1 April 2012. Under the terms of that initiative, if a petition gathers more than a million signatures across a minimum of seven member states, the European Commission will have to consider enacting relevant legislation. The petitioning system will use open source software for collecting and storing signatures. The OnLine Collection Software (OCS) has been developed by the Commission's Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations.

The tool, created as a Java web server application, supports all 23 of the official EU languages and is reported to streamline both data collection and verification. According to a report on the EU's Joinup, officials involved in the development hope that other developers will get involved, not just in improving and extending OCS itself – such as by adding minority language support – but also by creating mobile apps that would interact with it and integrating the system with social networks.

OCS is currently labelled as pre-alpha, and is available to download from the Joinup web site under the terms of the European Union Public Licence (EUPL).


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