Free Software PDF-Campaign: It isn’t over until it is over

After FSFE decided to officially end the PDF-campaign, the situation in the Netherlands still asked for action.

Having translated the Free Software PDF Readers-story into Dutch, I recently stumbled upon a proprietary PDF-ad on Digid.nl. This is a website of the Dutch government and it’s log-in technology is used by a lot of websites in this country – both from the government as well as non-government like health insurance companies.

By e-mail I politely asked the authorities to withdraw the ad. In two weeks I was called by a friendly civil servant who informed me that they removed the ad.

Why we convinced a Dutch government agency to use an Open Document format

When it comes to the use of Open Document formats in the public administration of the Netherlands there is no law. There is the “apply or explain”-rule which among other things means that a public administration has to use Open Standards unless they specifically explain why they can’t. As this rule has no teeth, all you can do is to politely ask a civil servant to use Open Standards.

Which we did. The Antenna Office, part of the Telecom Agency, regularly publishes a document with all legal antenna systems in the country. They did this in a proprietary spreadsheet document format. After a tip from Kevin Keijzer, I politely requested them to change this. I got a fast reaction, stating that after receiving several similar requests, they decided now to change to .ods immediately with their next publication.

More information on Open Document formats is on the Document Freedom Day website.