Open document formats campaign backed by EU's digital commissioner

Kroes' successors however were not among the backers

European government agencies should adopt open document formats in their dealings with citizens, outgoing European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has urged.

"I know a smart business decision when I see one -- choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed," Kroes said in a statement on the website of the FixMyDocuments campaign, of which she was among the first backers earlier this week.

"When open alternatives are available, no citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to use a particular company's technology to access government information. No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one, through a government having made that choice first," she wrote.

The FixMyDocuments campaign was launched by Openforum Europe (OFE), a non-profit backed by big IT companies including Google, IBM, Oracle and Red Hat as well as SMEs and user and consumer organisations.

The campaign's website invites reports about public administrations that have pledged support for Open Document Format (ODF) files but then don't recognize the files, which typically have a .odt, .ods or .odp extension. If an administration has expressed support for ODF but pages on its website provide, or accept submissions of, editable documents for sharing and collaborating without including one of the ODF family of file formats as an option, FixMyDocuments invites people to enter the URL of the page. The campaign is not concerned with web pages containing documents exclusively in Portable Document Format (PDF), as these are non-editable documents.

Openforum Europe vowed to contact reported administrations on a regular basis and track progress of the administrations' compliance with their own commitments, it said in a news release. "We hope that through this collective effort, we can help public administrations offer more consistent support for open document formats," it said.

Among the reported pages were several European Commission and European Parliament pages as well as a page of the Council of the EU.

While the campaign won Kroes' support, her successors were not among the backers on Wednesday. She is set to hand over the reins of her Digital Agenda post to Andrus Ansip and Günther Oettinger as of Nov. 1.

Former Estonian prime minister Ansip is designated to become Commission vice president responsible for the digital single market in the new Commission structure. Current Commissioner for Energy Oettinger is designated to become the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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