FLOSS as Democratic Principle: Free Software as Democratic Principle

Perry, Mark & Fitzgerald, Brian F. (2006) FLOSS as Democratic Principle: Free Software as Democratic Principle. International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, 2(3), pp. 155-164.


Free software – software in which the human readable source code is disclosed and distributed to the world - provides an excellent opportunity to "scrutinise" how software operates. By way of contrast, software that is distributed in binary form with the source code not disclosed (closed) promotes secrecy and ignorance as to how the software operates. If I were just about to be convicted of murder or to elect a President through a democratic process that relied on software I would feel more comfortable knowing the inner thoughts of that software – for software as a discursive practice has the power through its coding by humans (normally large private corporations) to construct knowledge much the same was as language, and embodies the thoughts of those that build it. Our thesis is that core software infrastructure in a vibrant democracy must be able to be scrutinised, reviewed and made accountable by any citizen through access to the source code. At present, free software provides that opportunity. What is more, free software allows citizens to better participate in and improve upon the process of democracy.

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ID Code: 4425
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Free, Libre, Open Source Software, Democracy, Security, Core Government Infrastructure
ISSN: 1832-3669
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Intellectual Property Law (180115)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Mark Perry and Brian F. Fitzgerald
Deposited On: 02 Jun 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:23

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