Open standards made mandatory for public administrations

OSOR Open standards have been made mandatory for the IT systems of Hungary’s public administrations. The Hungarian parliament voted in favour of amendments prescribing open standards, to a law on electronic government services, on 14 December. The changes received 197 votes in favour, one against and 146 abstentions, according to the Open Standard Alliance, a Hungarian advocacy group that lobbyed in favour of the amendments.

The changes to the law intend to make electronic services by public adminstrations accessible to all, by prescribing the use of IT standards that are publicly accessible and without any restrictions such as royalties.

“This is just the first step, a lot remains to be done”, commented the Open Standards Alliance on its website. “But we dare rejoice.”

Explaining the amendents, the Alliance compares open standards to wall sockets for the electricity grid. “Any device using a standard plug can be connected to the electric power supply by means of a wall socket. Connecting a television set or a refrigerator to the mains does not require the expertise of an electrician. And if the refrigerator is unplugged and a television plugged in instead, the television will work, too. Similarly, the two types of portal set out by Hungarian legislation, the administrative portal and the client portal serving individual users, will function as statutory standard sockets in intercommunication between computers.”

These standards governing connection to the sockets are public, the Alliance add. “Anybody can set up an information socket: the specifications of the portals of the central system are public, anybody can access them free of charge.”

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“We are all quite excited about this law”, said László Kürti, ceo of Open SKM Agency, an Hungarian open source IT service provider. He expects that the law will help his and similar open source specialists. “Unfortunately, it does not mention any dates by which public adminstrations need to start using open standards, nor are there any sanctions for those that don’t, but it is a good start.”

Originally publication by the Open Source Observatory & Repository Europe.

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