‘Open’ one of keywords in Hungary’s ICT strategy

Open standards and free and open source are central to Hungary’s approach to ICT, says Gábor Fekete, deputy secretary of state, in his opening address to the conference organised by the government’s resource centre on open source, on 27 November in Budapest. The government wants to strengthen the domestic IT sector, become less locked-in by IT vendors, lower the cost of its ICT solutions and make sure its electronic government services are interoperable.Achieving interoperability is a central principle for the government’s 2014 – 2020 plans for local and state public administrations, Fekete says. Design of the government’s ICT systems still has to overcome a “fifteen year-old debt”, Fekete. “ICT modernisation is essential for improving and simplifying the government services.”The deputy secretary of state told the conference attendees that the government wants to make educational materials and free software solutions freely available. He said that free and open source software will be part of the central solutions, answering to the expectations of public institutions and enterprises. Source: „’Open’ one of keywords in Hungary’s ICT strategy“ December 17, 2013  

European Commission launches pilot to open up publicly funded research data

Valuable information produced by researchers in many EU-funded projects will be shared freely as a result of a Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020. Researchers in projects participating in the pilot are asked to make the underlying data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications and other scientific information available for use by other researchers, innovative industries and citizens. This will lead to better and more efficient science and improved transparency for citizens and society. It will also contribute to economic growth through open innovation. For 2014-2015, topic areas participating in the Open Research Data Pilot will receive funding of around €3 billion.The Commission recognises that research data is as important as publications. It therefore announced in 2012 that it would experiment with open access to research data (see IP/12/790). The Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020 does for scientific information what the Open Data Strategy1 does for public sector information: it aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects for the benefit of society and the economy.The Pilot involves key areas of Horizon 2020: Future and Emerging Technologies Research infrastructures – part e-Infrastructures Leadership in industrial technologies – Information and Communication Technologies Societal Challenge: Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy – part Smart cities and communities Societal Challenge: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw materials – with the exception

‘Turkey deliberately ignoring open source’

Public administrations in Turkey are neglecting free and open source ICT solutions, says Hüseyin Tolu, a PHD student at the University of Bristol. Causes include institutional inertia, vendor lock-in and corruption. Part of his thesis appeared as a case-study earlier this week in the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review.Tolu writes that the country lacks ICT policies and the authorities do not attempt to strike a balance between open and closed source alternatives. However, the need for an approach on free software has come up multiple times, Tolu summarises. Between 2004 and 2006, two government action plans argue in favour of free and open source and the government carried out five evaluations. Turkey’s Parliament also weigh in with, between 2005 and 2012, over three hundred written parliamentary questions. Obstacles”All of these efforts have not achieved their initial and subsequent objectives, and resulted in failure. The general discourse is that although the use of free and open source in Turkey is nearly as advanced as in many leading nations, there are some crucial obstacles.”One of these is that the country’s public institutions are not encouraging the use of free software. Next, the vast majority of software applications developed for the government are locked-in to proprietary technology. Third, Tolu writes, it is unclear which government organisation should carry the responsibility for introducing and implementing any ICT policy. Incomplete”These five evaluation reports repeatedly stated

Horizon 2020 launched with €15 billion over first two years

The European Commission has today for the first time presented calls for projects under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s €80 billion research and innovation programme. Worth more than €15 billion over the first two years, the funding is intended to help boost Europe’s knowledge-driven economy, and tackle issues that will make a difference in people’s lives. This includes 12 areas that will be a focus for action in 2014/2015, including topics such as personalised healthcare, digital security and smart cities.European Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “It’s time to get down to business. Horizon 2020 funding is vital for the future of research and innovation in Europe, and will contribute to growth, jobs and a better quality of life. We have designed Horizon 2020 to produce results, and we have slashed red tape to make it easier to participate. So I am calling on researchers, universities, businesses including SMEs, and others to sign up!”For the first time, the Commission has indicated funding priorities over two years, providing researchers and businesses with more certainty than ever before on the direction of EU research policy. Most calls from the 2014 budget are already open for submissions as of today, with more to follow over the course of the year. Calls in the 2014 budget alone are worth around €7.8 billion, with funding focused on the three key pillars of Horizon 2020:Excellent Science: Around

Regional conference POINT 2.1 “Accountability of government, civil society and new technologies”

On Saturday, Nov 23., The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, in cooperation with UG Zašto Ne held a regional conference entitled ‘Accountability of government, civil society and new technologies – POINT 2.1’.The event was held in addition to the annual ‘POINT’ conference has been organizing since 2012 by UG Zašto Ne with the aim of exchanging civil society experiences in the context of the use of new technologies for democratization of public life and for promotion of accountability and transparency in government as well as for civic activism. Panel’s speakers and participants represented civil society organizations from the region, and recruited from the first two editions of POINT. Among others they were representing CRTA from Serbia, UG Zašto Ne, CCI and Revolt from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Metamorphosis and MOST from Macedonia.In addition to highlightening the importance of transparency and the adoption of new laws, the participants pointed out the great opportunities that disclosing data in the internet can bring to the whole population. The organizers and the participants agreed that there was a lot done in order to use new technologies to create more accountable governments in the region, but, in the same time, the exchange of experiences can help in scaling the good practices thorough the region. The representative of Metamorphosis presented the experiences from ‘Truthmeter’ in Macedonia, in terms of demanding accountability from the authorities by encouraging discussions between citizens about the promises

Council of the EU discusses OER, but is vague on details

The Council of the European Union, comprised of Ministers of member states, debated last week on the topic „Open Educational Resources and digital learning.”. The debate was held during the meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on the 25-26th of November.The meeting was related to the Commission’s “Opening Up Education” initiative, which was launched at the end of September and in which the development of OER policies plays a key role. Yet the scope of debate at the Council meeting was broader, and didn’t seem to be well connected to the “Opening Up Education” project. The Council did not provide a written conclusion on the matter. Based on limited available information (see the minutes of the meeting, p. 10), it seems that the Council focused primarily on broad issues related to digital learning and MOOCs (which are drawing significant attention from the public as well as policy makers).Similarly, the brief position paper prepared by the Lithuanian Presidency, titled “Presidency Discussion Paper: Open Educational resources and digital learning”, does not provide a substantial viewpoint on OER. It lists advantages and challenges, and suggests that „time is ripe for a debate at European level on the opportunities and challenges which Open Educational Resources will undoubtedly bring”.The „Opening Up Education” communication provides a much stronger view of OER as advantageous for education in Europe. It’s good news that representatives of the Ministries of

EU: WP2014-15 Web Entrepreneurs Challenge

This objective calls for projects to create an environment in Europe that encourages more web entrepreneurs to start a business in Europe and scale it up.  The focus of this topic is on entrepreneurs who use web and mobile technologies as main components in their innovation with a positive impact across the continuum of actors for entrepreneurshipThe forthcoming €10M funding will be allocated to projects to accelerate web entrepreneurship in Europe by using new cross-border services co-developed by several local web entrepreneurship ecosystems and hubs working together. Coordination activities to strength the environment for web entrepreneurship in Europe and that exploit synergies across stakeholder communities will also be funded.The expected impact is to support the emergence of dynamic European ecosystems for web entrepreneurs that also contribute to shaping future web entrepreneurship specific policies, in particular for the implementation of Startup Europe EU initiative Click here for full details of the text of the call Source: Europe’s Information Society „WP2014-15 Web Entrepreneurs Challenge“  

€400 000 in prizes in Europe’s biggest app challenge

In Europe’s biggest ever app challenge the EU is offering €400 000 in prizes to best new applications that help build smarter cities and smarter businesses. Campus Party, the world’s largest geek forum, will manage the contest, judged by specialized engineers from the EU-funded FI-WARE Consortium.The only condition of the competition is that app entries should build on the building blocks deployed in the EU’s project to build the core platform of tomorrow’s internet.50 of these existing building blocks already exist – and are freely available through the FI-WARE Open Innovation Lab for developers to experiment with. They provide generic functions that can be used by a wide range of different applications from all kinds of sectors, like cloud hosting, big data analysis, identity management or the Internet of Things. This app challenge seeks to enable services based on those building blocks.Click here to enter the contest. Entries close on 20 December 2013.Anyone can enter. Individuals, small businesses and web entrepreneurs are especially encouraged to enter. You can enter with an idea only, but entrants are encouraged to illustrate their idea with a draft prototype. Source: Europe’s Information Society “€400 000 in prizes in Europe’s biggest app challenge” November 29, 2013  

European Parliament to decide on the future of the open Internet

The Internet has changed our society, enhanced our freedoms and our economy. One of the main reasons for this is the openness of the Internet – anyone has the potential to communicate with anyone, without permission and without discrimination. This is the essence of the neutral, open Internet. This is net neutrality.This openness is now under threat, as telecoms operators seek to restrict Internet access and thereby boost their short-term profits – replacing neutrality with restrictions, barriers and complexity.We have waited for years for concrete proposals to enshrine the net neutrality principle in European Union law. Since 2010, there has also been an increasing number of calls from the European Parliament to guarantee net neutrality. Finally, in September 2011, the European Commission has proposed a draft Regulation which aims at protecting the open internet in Europe. Vice President Neelie Kroes repeatedly stated that this proposal would include the “right to net neutrality”.The good news is that it only takes a few modifications to turn the Commission’s proposal into a meaningful means of protecting net neutrality, thereby ensuring that the Internet remains a barrier-free single market and a unique platform for social and cultural activity and democratic discourse.The amendments can be downloaded here (pdf). Source: EDRI-gram “European Parliament to decide on the future of the open Internet” November 26, 2013  

UN General Assembly Approves Draft-Resolution Titled ‘Right to Privacy in the Digital Age’

The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly approved 18 draft resolutions, including one on “The right to privacy in the digital age”.“Through this resolution, the General Assembly establishes, for the first time, that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium and therefore need to be protected both offline and online,” Brazil’s representative said, echoing the statement delivered by his President during the opening of the sixty‑eighth session. UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay said that while “modern communications technology provides a powerful tool for democracy… it has also contributed to a blurring of lines between the public and private sphere.”Ambassador Dr. Hanns Schumacher of Germany said, “Every person is entitled to a ‘private sphere’ free from undue interference or surveillance by the State or other actors.”Schumacher urged the international community and the Human Rights Council, in particular, to “strike a sound balance between legitimate public and security concerns and the fundamental human right to privacy in the digital age.”The draft, approved without a vote, would have the General Assembly call upon Member States to review their procedures, practices and legislation on the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, with a view to upholding the right to privacy by ensuring the full and effective implementation of all relevant obligations under international human rights law.Following the approval, some delegates stressed the need for agreed international human rights