Open Standards are essential for interoperability and freedom of choice based on the merits of different software applications. They provide freedom from data lock-in and the subsequent vendor lock-in. This makes Open Standards essential for governments, companies, organisations and individual users of information technology.
For the purpose of Document Freedom Day, our working understanding of "Open Standards" is that the standard be:
- subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;
- without any components or extensions that have dependencies on formats or protocols that do not meet the definition of an Open Standard themselves;
- free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;
- managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties;
- available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.
With an "emerging standards" grace period for the fifth point.
What Open Standards mean to you
Visible effects of Open Standards are that you can:
- Choose any operating system or application and still be able to read and edit all your old documents.
- Collaborate with others regardless of which software they are using.
- Use any software of your choice to interact with your government.
The less visible effects of Open Standards are that they lead to more competition in software, and more effective governmental IT solutions that avoid the cost of lock-in.
More information on Open Standards
- Open Standards by the Free Software Foundation Europe
- UN IGF Dynamic Coalition on Open Standards
- The Digital Standards Organisation
- List of groups producing Open Standards