[Legales] Government's disobedience to the Brazilian constitution in check

Alexandre Oliva lxoliva en fsfla.org
Lun Sep 25 04:11:33 UTC 2006

    Government's disobedience to the Brazilian constitution in check
    Lawsuits debate freedoms pertaining to software.

This past week was marked by two important developments towards
stopping the disobedience to the Brazilian Constitution by the
Brazilian public administration, as far as choosing software platforms
is concerned.

On one hand, IBDI: Brazilian Institute of Informatics Politics and Law
filed its Amicus Curiæ petition for the constitutionality lawsuit
3059/03 filed against the Free Software law in the Brazilian state of
Rio Grande do Sul, carrying FSFLA's article `On the constitutional
preference for Free Software' as an annex.  FSFLA thanks IBDI and all
the participants in preparing this petition, particularly the lawyers
Dr Omar Kaminski and Dr Euripedes Brito Cunho Junior.  More
information in the editorial of our latest bulletin at
http://www.fsfla.org/?q=en/node/110, in our article at
http://www.fsfla.org/?q=en/node/109 and (in Portuguese)

On another hand, lawyers Dr Segio Ruy David Polimeno Valente and Dr
Rafael Gandara D'Amico, representing Mr Odilon Guedes, filed mandamus
#3494 against the requirement, by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE),
of use of a program exclusively for the MS-Windows platform for
accounting information demanded of every electoral campaign.
http://www.projetopopular.org/uploads/outros/7.pdf (in pt_BR).

Even though their arguments contain errors such as referring to
GNU/Linux, one of the operating systems the candidate would like eto
be able to use, by the name of one of its components, Linux, we
consider pertinent the allegation of violation of the constitutional
priciples of legality and impersonality, by the arbitrary choice of a
software platform that benefits, in an unjustified way, a single

Although many won't identify with this situation, that affects only
electoral candidates, a similar imposition is made by the Federal
Income (parallel to USA's IRS) office.  Many of its programs are
offered both for MS-Windows and for Java.  Even though the need for a
Java virtual machine is indicated, such programs often refer to
features not defined in the platform specification, but present in the
implementation by a single company, among the various companies that
offer Java virtual machines.  That's therefore the same kind of
violation of the principles of legality and impersonality.

In order to avoid such violations, we suggest complementary approaches:

- publishing protocols and file formats used by programs offered by
the public administration, in order to respect the transparency
principle and enable alternate implementations of these programs for
other platforms, and

- licensing of software distributed by the public administration in
such a way that enables citizens to adapt the software to platforms of
their choice and/or hire third parties to do so.  These permissions
require the source code of the applications to be made available
(which is also necessary to comply with the transparency principle)
and respect to the freedoms to adapt, distribute, study and run the
software, modified or otherwise.  In other words, licensing of the
software under terms compatible with the Free Software definition.

FSFLA expects the disobedience to constitutional principles, that has
caused losses to both citizens and the public administration itself,
to come to an end, and encourages citizens to act to assert their
rights and freedoms, among them those of demanding from public
administrators the compliance with the constitution.


FSFLA, in process of legal constitution, joined in 2005 the FSF
network previously formed by FSFs in the United States, in Europe and
in India.  These sister organizations work in their corresponding
geographies towards promoting the same Free Software ideals and
defending the same freedoms for software users and developers, working
locally but cooperating globally.  For more information about FSFLA
and to contribute to our work, visit our web site at www.fsfla.org or
write to info en fsfla.org.

Press contacts

In English, em português
Alexandre Oliva
Board member, FSFLA
lxoliva en fsfla.org
+55 (19) 9714-3658 / 3243-5233

En español
Beatriz Busaniche
Consejera, FSFLA
bea en fsfla.org

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Secretary for FSF Latin America        http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{redhat.com, gcc.gnu.org}
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{lsd.ic.unicamp.br, gnu.org}

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