UK Government starts new Open Standards Consultation
The UK Government has started the process of consulting on Open Standards. The process was promised after the government was found to have withdrawn its previous recommendations which had defined open standards as royalty-free. That original recommendation was reportedly heavily lobbied against by Microsoft which led to its withdrawal and the apparent restarting of the process to define open standards.
The new consultation process has three major sections. Criteria for open standards contains a proposed policy that is more extensive in its patent language; it asks for essential patents to be licensed on a "royalty free and non-discriminatory basis" or be covered by a "non-discriminatory promise of non-assertion". Licences would also have to be compatible with the implementation of standards in both proprietary and open source software.
A second section looks at how the government should mandate open standards within the public sector and proposes a policy that favours open standards where competing standards perform the same function, and requires all IT spending to demonstrate compliance with "open standards and compulsory open standards for software interoperability" or provide evidence and analysis if the project needs "divergence". The final section asks questions about how the government should align the policy internationally.
Those interested in responding to the consultation can post questions directly on the web site, by email or by post. The full consultation document is also available to download. The consultation closes on 1 May 2012.