Bulgaria Mandates That Government Software Must Be Open Source

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 05, 2016

Over the past few years, open source tools and applications have been gaining enormous traction in parts of Europe, and cities such as Munich have been involved in a multi-year effort to transform technology infrastructure by throwing out proprietary pplications and using open source tools instead.

Now, in the latest move on this front, Bulgaria has passed legislation requiring that government software be open source. It's quite a commitment, and the move underscores how pervasive and flexible open source applications and platforms have become.

Article 58 of the Electronic Governance Act decrees that administrative authorities must include the following requirements:

"When the subject of the contract includes the development of computer programs, computer programs must meet the criteria for open-source software; all copyright and related rights on the relevant computer programs, their source code, the design of interfaces, and databases which are subject to the order should arise for the principal in full, without limitations in the use, modification, and distribution; and development should be done in the repository maintained by the agency in accordance with Art 7c pt. 18."

Notably--despite the fact that security is viewed by some as a weakness in the open source arena--in a blog post, Bozhidar Bozhanov, advisor to the Bulgarian deputy prime minister, said that guaranteeing security is part of why this decision was made:

"As for security — in the past 'security through obscurity' was the main approach, and it didn’t quite work —numerous vulnerabilities were found in government websites that went unpatched for years, simply because a contract had expired. With opening the source we hope to reduce those incidents, and to detect bad information security practices in the development process, rather than when it’s too late."

 Bulgaria has also mandated that a new government agency is tasked with enforcing the law and with setting up a public repository (which will likely be mirrored to GitHub).

And of course, already, there are calls for other government agencies around the world to follow Bulgaria's lead.