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Dutch govt ordered to use open standards for comms from 2017

Tough net neutrality rules draw fire, too

By Iain Thomson, 14 Oct 2016

Government bodies in the Netherlands will have to use open technology standards for communications after next year, following a vote by the nation's parliament.

The requirement for open document standards has already been adopted by the Netherlands Senate, but a motion by Member of Parliament Astrid Oosenbrug has now unified the policy. She said the lower house would be the first government body to standardize around the use of Open Document Format (ODF).

"We should set the right example," she said. "Ironically, lower house published the adopted law on its website by providing a download link to a document in a proprietary format."

As part of the new legislation, the government will also promote the use of open source code across government and the private sector. Michiel Leenaars, head of the Dutch Internet Society, welcomed the move.

"It's an attractive and cost-effective way of breaking the impasse in government innovation," he said. "It makes the public sector responsible for the technology that it uses to interact with others."

Not all parliamentary moves in the Netherlands have proved so popular. Earlier this week, the state's Senate passed a strict net neutrality position that would bar preferential internet traffic completely. The local T-Mobile office has already said it will sue over the rules, and industry associations are up in arms.

"We believe that the Dutch Net Neutrality law goes far beyond the intent of the EU Regulation," said Afke Schaart, European VP of mobile industry group GSMA.

"We therefore call on the European Commission to ensure the harmonized implementation of Europe's Open Internet rules." ®

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