Portugal’s law on promoting Open Standards

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In Portugal, it is illegal to do business in public sector without adhering to open standards mandate. The Law no. 36/2011 passed in 2011 establishes the adoption of open standards for promoting technological freedom of citizens and organizations and is a key initiative towards interoperability of State information systems.

What is Open Standards?

The  Act defines Open Standards as the technical manner in which publishing, transmitting and storing information in digital formats fulfills following requirements:

    • Its adoption is derived from transparent decision process, available to participation of all interested parties
    • Its specification document is published and freely available with no restriction on copying, distribution and utilization
    • Its applicable IPR including patents have been made wholly, irrevocably and irreversibly to Portuguese State
    • There are no restrictions to its implementations.
    • Its specification document does not incite non-documented process or actions.

“Organizations that embrace Open Source software and gain a benefit from its use should actively contribute to these communities through error detection, suggestions for improvements, project developments or their dissemination. It is this participation that ensures its sustainability.”

The Law:

Article 4 of Law (Use of Open Standards) mandates that all implementation in public administration have to use open standards, and no document submitted to public administration can be turned down on the grounds of using open standards.

Article 5 of Law (National Regulation on Digital Interoperability) covers the following domains:

    • Data formats, including character sets, sound and image formats (static and animated), audiovisuals, graphic data and pre-printing. Open standards are SQL (Structured Query Language), PNG (Portable Network Graphics), SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), XML (eXtensible Markup Language), XSD (XML Schema Definition), XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), UTF-8 (8-bit Unicode Transformation Format)
    • Document formats (structured and non-structured) and management of contents, including the management of documents. Common open standards for document formats are ODF (Open Document Format), PDF (Portable Document Format), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), XML (eXtensible Markup Language)
    • Technologies of web interface, including accessibility, ergonomics, compatibility, and integration of services; Examples of open standards include ATOM (Atom Syndication Format), CalDAV (Calendering Extension to Web DAV), CSS (Cascading Style Sheet), HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), Javascript, WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning Access Control Protocol), XML (eXtensible Markup Language), XSLT (XML style sheet language)
    • Protocols for streaming and transfer of sound and animated images in real time, inuding the transfer, distribution of contents, and peer to peer services. Open standard is RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol)
    • Protocols for email, including access to contents, extensions and services of instant messaging. Common open stndards are IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), POP3 (Post Office Protocol), POP3S (POP3 using TLS), SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), SMTPS (Secure SMTP over Transport Layer Security (TLS))
    • Geographic Information Systems, including: cartography, digital records, topography and modelling. Examples of open standards are WCS (Web Coverage Service), WFS (Web Feature Service), WMS (Web Map Service), WPS (Web Processing Service)
    • Rules and protocols for communication in information technology networks. Open standard is IPV6 (Internet Protocol Version 6)
    • Security rules for networks, services, applications, and documents. TLS (Transport Layer Security) is the open standard.
    • Rules and protocols for integration of information technology systems, exchange of data, and orchestration of trading processes within interdepartmental integration. Examples of open standards are BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), LDAP (Lightweight Directory Accessory Protocol), SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language), SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), Web Service Addressing, Web Service Reliable Messaging, Web Services Security, WS-Security Username Token.

The public agencies are required to comply by the Act, and publish their assessment in Digital Annual Report on interoperability. The Act has wider ramification on procurement, interoperability, and bringing cost efficiency in the state services.

Further Readings

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