Open Source in Government

What if officials of a government publicly stated something along the lines of: “proprietary formats will no longer be acceptable in communication between citizens and government?”

For people that are already in tune with Open Source, this seems very reasonable – I know it does for me.

The thing is, it is being reported that statements such as this have already happened in Norway, where their Minister of Modernization Morten Andreas Meyer

has charged all government institutions, both at the national and local level, to by the end of 2005 have worked out a recommendation for the use of open source code in the public sector. Further by the end of 2006 every body of the public sector in Norway must have in place a plan for the use of open source code and open standards.

Firstly, I think this is cool (I know I’d love to see the Canadian government look at such an initiative). My real question is, “will this make a difference?”

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What if many other governments around the world did this, and actually encouraged the use of open source and open standards to the public? How much influence would this have on personal/home/business computing? Would this have any impact at all on those companies whose business model relies on proprietary formats?

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