All Bulgarian Government Software to be Open Source under New Law

The Bulgarian Parliament has passed amendments to its Electronic Governance Act that require all government software to be open source.

The amendments affect Article 58a of the Electronic Governance Act, which relates to the “public procurement to develop, upgrade or implement… information systems and e-services” for the Bulgarian government.

Those changes read as follows:

“When the subject of the contract includes the development of computer programs, computer programs must meet the criteria for open-source software; all copyright and related rights on the relevant computer programs, their source code, the design of interfaces, and databases which are subject to the order should arise for the principal in full, without limitations in the use, modification, and distribution; and development should be done in the repository maintained by the agency in accordance with Art 7c pt. 18.”

Bozhidar Bozhanov, a software engineer who serves as an advisor to the deputy prime minister of Bulgaria, feels those changes will improve the transparency of the Bulgarian Parliament’s software.

As he wrote in a blog post published on Medium:

It means that whatever custom software the government procures will be visible and accessible to everyone. After all, it’s paid by tax-payers money and they should both be able to see it and benefit from it.

Such transparency is likely to strengthen the Bulgarian Parliament’s information security, as independent researchers can now assist the government in finding and remediating software vulnerabilities.

Abhimanyu Ghoshal of The Next Web notes open source software will also allow for greater flexibility, such as by empowering the Bulgarian Parliament to create tools for new departments or to switch vendors without too much cost.

A new government agency will be responsible for upholding the law and setting up the public repository. A public register will also be created by the Bulgarian government to track all government-based software projects through their various stages.