Tomorrow (19 September) is Software Freedom Day, and IT users are urged to consider all the ways that software freedom could be maintained – from promoting open standards to ensuring it's not used to restrict personal freedom.
People are quick to criticise governments or large corporations for their secretive and sometimes insidious behaviour, but many are not aware that the values of sustainability, transparency and accountability should be applied to software design and distribution as well.
This is according to Pia Waugh, president of the Software Freedom Initiative, who points to a growing tendency among governments and large corporations to use closed source code as a means to gather information on people without their consent or knowledge.
“Proprietary software keeps the source code locked away from public scrutiny which means that there is no way to know exactly what the software actually does, and no way to trust it to safeguard your human rights," he says. "Transparent technologies are about ensuring you can trust the results and operation of your technology."
Tomorrow, 200 teams from 60 countries across the world – including many in South Africa – will be gathering to inform, educate and inspire the greater public to support transparent and sustainable technologies.
“South Africa has a growing support base when it comes to software freedom," says Andre Coetzee of salinux.co.za. "The uptake of free and open source software has risen dramatically, particularly over the last year.
"We believe that this has less to do with the economic climate (which has obviously put pressure on companies to lower their licensing costs), than with the business world embracing open alternatives because of its technical superiority and operational stability."
Coetzee and his Gauteng teams will be at Cresta Centre, Benoni Lakeside Mall and Boksburg Mall tomorrow.
“We aim to inform the general public about the issues surrounding software freedom. It is imperative to South Africa’s future that we are able to turn to technology to help us without fear of interference from governments, organisations or corporations with hidden agendas,” Coetzee adds.