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Bulgaria Amends Law to Require Open Source Governmental Software

Bulgaria is paving the way. Will other countries follow suit?

Jelor GallegoJuly 8th 2016

Visible and Accessible to Everyone

One of the top new computing trends right now is open source software. Tech giants are increasingly allowing transparency in both hardware and software designs. The government is even following suit.

Bulgaria has just passed amendments to its Electronic Governance Act requiring changes to how software written by the government is developed. The amended Article 58a of the act mandates for custom software procured by the government to pass the criteria for open-source software. In other words, the use, modification and distribution of the software cannot be limited, and development must be done at the country’s public repository. The end result, according to government adviser Bozhidar Bozhanov, is “whatever custom software the government procures will be visible and accessible to everyone. After all, it’s paid by tax-payers money and they should both be able to see it and benefit from it.”

However, this does not mean that all government software would be open-source. “Existing solutions are purchased on licensing terms and they remain unaffected,” adds Bozhanov. He also notes that for full implementation, programmers and concerned citizens will need to push government.

Increasing Security

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Many have already noted the benefits of such a move. While it may seem that this will erode security, it could actually increase. With open sourcing, software experts are able to look for bugs and vulnerabilities in software and report them. Experts would even be able to submit patches of their own before weaknesses could be exploited.

Further, updating the software becomes easier. This allows for the accommodation of new software features in the future. Perhaps most importantly, open sourcing allows software to adapt and modify to different governmental needs. Thus eliminating the need to deal with single private vendors, saving taxpayers money and encouraging competition.

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