1,125 public sector websites no longer advertise proprietary PDF readers
After six years of activity, the Free Software Foundation Europe’s (FSFE) PDFreaders campaign is coming to a close this month as one of the FSFE’s most successful campaigns.
The campaign began in 2009 with the aim of removing advertisements for proprietary PDF reader software from public institutions’ websites. To start it all off, volunteers submitted 2104 “bugs”, or instances of proprietary PDF software being directly promoted by the public sector and the FSFE listed them online. Since then, hundreds of free software activists have taken action by writing to the relevant public institutions and calling for changes to their websites. The FSFE received a lot of positive feedback from the institutions concerned, thanking the FSFE for its letters. To date, 1,125 out of the 2,104 websites (53%) contacted have edited their sites to remove links to proprietary PDF readers or to add links to free software PDF readers.
In addition to writing letters, the FSFE also collected signatures for a petition calling for an end to advertisements for proprietary software products on government websites. This petition was signed by 90 organisations, 63 businesses and 2,731 individuals.
Furthermore, the FSFE campaigned for change at both national and international levels.
- In Germany, political parties gave statements in favour of free PDF readers and the German Government itself has recommended the use of the FSFE’s wording in its migration guide. These matters are covered in more detail by FSFE’s coordinator for Germany, Max Mehl, on his blog.
- At EU level, the European Parliament directly asked the European Commission what the reasons were for advertising a specific software product and what steps were taken to resolve this matter.
- In 2011 one of the FSFE’s our pdfreaders.org co-ordinators, Hannes Hauswedell, contacted Google requesting the release of the PDF reader
included in its Chrome browser as free software.
- Finally, in May 2014 the pdfium sources were published openly. Whilst the FSFE’s enquiry might not have been the only reason the sources were released, it marks an important change for the widespread adoption of free software PDF readers.
“This success would not have been possible without the help and hard work from our volunteers and the support from our donors. Thank you! While many public and private websites still promote proprietary readers, the level of awareness has changed significantly during our campaign and now it should be much easier for you to approach the remaining web-site administrators. Also most internet users today already use free software when they open a PDF file in their browser -a huge difference from 2009!” says campaign founder Hannes Hauswedell. “Of course work still remains and we invite you to keep on reminding (public) administrators to use open standards and not recommend proprietary software. And with your support, we too, will continue to fight for a web that respects its users’ privacy and freedom!”