Norwegian Minister: Proprietary Formats No Longer Acceptable in Communication with Government
On presenting his new plan for information technology in Norway – “eNorge 2009 – the digital leap”, Norwegian Minister of Modernization Morten Andreas Meyer today at a press conference in Oslo declared “Proprietary formats will no longer be acceptable in communication between citizens and government.”
Taking great care not to mention the name Microsoft directly, but rather referring to “the spreadsheet almost everyone use” or saying this is the last time I will present a plan for information technology being broadcast on the net in Windows Media, the Minister sent strong signals in the direction of Redmond to open up or become irrelevant to the Norwegian Government.
The Minister, as part of the plan, has charged all government institutions, both at the national and local level, to by the end of 2005 have worked out a recommendation for the use of open source code in the public sector. Further by the end of 2006 every body of the public sector in Norway must have in place a plan for the use of open source code and open standards.
The plan calls for a massive restructuring of Public sector in Norway where digital communication between every citizen and government will become the norm. Part of the plan is to provide every citizen with their own “home page” for communication with government and for opening services 24/7 to the public. In the process every Norwegian citizen will be provided with a personal electronic ID as a replacement for the numerous user-ids and passwords currently used throughout.
The plan clearly favors Open Source communities and solutions, and Linux, but will also favors Apple computer where increasingly open source technologies and open standards are finding their way into the historically proprietary Mac OS. It remains to be seen what response the plan will prompt from Microsoft, who has been very reluctant to open up its word processing, spreadsheet and media formats. Without support for open standard formats, Microsoft will rapidly make itself irrelevant as supplier to both public sector, businesses and private persons, as they all have the need to communicate electronically with the government in the future.
Also institutions and companies like the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and TV2 will be greatly affected by the new policies, having based their Internet interactive TV and radio transmissions mainly on Microsoft Media formats.
Of great interest to businesses, the Minister also announced that public information, in the future, should be available free or significantly cheaper than current practice. A move he hoped would pave the way for new businesses taking advantage of this type of information.