FOSSCOM to oppose NASSCOM
companies and civil society groups supporting open source software standard in e-governance are planning to form a separate pressure group. They have proposed to form fosscom to oppose the IT industry body nasscom that has been lobbying with the government to adopt proprietary software standards.
Free and open source software (foss) codes can be accessed by any software professional and modified free of cost unlike proprietary software for which a licensing fee has to be paid to the company holding the software code. The Department of Information and Technology's (dit) draft policy on e-governance seeks to enforce foss (see 'Open Policy', Down To Earth, May 31, 2008).
But companies like Microsoft and Infosys have been pushing for proprietary software in e-governance through nasscom. On June 17, a meeting of the dit apex committee was held where nasscom opposed the draft policy. Its spokesperson refused to comment on the issue.
foss supporters say adopting proprietary standards as demanded by nasscom and the Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (mait) would make storing national data such as land records, expensive. People would end up paying for using the proprietary software, they said. Proprietary standards would also lead to loss of business opportunity for several small-scale IT companies that have adopted foss to save costs, said Jaijit Bhattacharya of Knowledge Commons, India, a non-profit. He said fosscom would be an alternative platform that will represent small-scale businesses.
foss has the support of companies like ibm, Red Hat and SunMicrosystems. Red Hat shot off a letter to nasscom saying multiple proprietary standards in the same domain will bring e-governance to a standstill.
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