France adds source code to list of documents covered by freedom of information laws

But there's an exception if disclosure would threaten the security of government information systems

French freedom of information law now treats source code as disclosable in the same way as other government records.

The new "Digital Republic" law took effect Saturday, with its publication in France's Official Journal.

It adds source code to the long list of government document types that must be released in certain circumstances: dossiers, reports, studies, minutes, transcripts, statistics, instructions, memoranda, ministerial replies, correspondence, opinions, forecasts and decisions.

But it also adds a new exception to existing rules on access to administrative documents and reuse of public information, giving officials plenty of reasons to refuse to release code on demand.

These rules already allow officials to block the publication of documents they believe threaten national security, foreign policy, personal safety, or matters before court or under police investigation, among things.

Now they can oppose publication if they believe it threatens the security of government information systems.

The restriction is disproportionate , according to April, a French lobby group promoting free software.

"It's based on the fantasy of security through obscurity, and risks defeating the purpose of the law," the group said Monday.

The law does have its bright side, according to the group: Source code -- and indeed any other documents -- released electronically under the law must be made available in an open standard format that can be easily reused and processed automatically.

But that enthusiasm for openness could have gone much further, said April.

Early drafts of the law proposed making free and open source software the rule in government service rather than the exception, but the final version requires only that certain government departments "encourage" the use of open source and open formats when developing, buying or using software.

That same weak encouragement is all that is required of government officials when it comes to migrating to IPv6 -- and this only from Jan. 1, 2018.

There's little sense of urgency about IPv4 migration in the private sector in France, though. All through last week, French businesses were still being allocated /22 blocks of 1024 IPv4 addresses, sometimes without a corresponding new allocation of IPv6 addresses.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?