[Linux-aus] [Osia-discuss] Tax office - Open Source policy
horms at verge.net.au
Thu Aug 27 15:24:43 EST 2009
On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 09:19:32PM +1000, Stuart Guthrie wrote:
> Hi Ron
> Thanks for including the list on this, I think there is a better response than this one on it's way from the committee but this is just my two cents.
> Obviously it would be better for the ATO to use an open and published standard such as ODF (Open Document Format). There are many products that support this standard and it can be read and written on all major operating systems including Linux, OSX, OpenSolaris and Windows.
> Any customer needing access to read/write with the tax office can download at least one implementation of this standard for free from http://www.openoffice.org.
> The issue of long-term viability of the documents is a point that also should be considered. There are numerous articles including this:
> A whole chunk from Aust. Fed Govt National Library:
> Most of the articles from these institutions outline the importance of open, defined standards to make long term storage possible. I would have thought that this would be an important consideration for communications with the tax office.
> Example: How would the ATO go retrieving and reading a document in AMIPRO or WORD PERFECT 2.0 format? Neither I believe had open defined standards. I'm imagining the same problem in 10 years for MS office from the mid-90's. The software would not be around and it would get increasingly hard to read.
> This may not cut it however. The second best (but still bad) compromise is that everyone uses the halfway house of PDF to communicate. In 99.9% of all cases, the communication is one-way and there is not expected to be editing of the document at the other end. PDF is mostly documented and many tools can read/write it's formats. While it's not as good as ODF, it's a sort of 'standard' with many tools able to read/write it.
> I think it's probably an acceptable compromise. For now.
> Finally, the option of just using WORD is unacceptable to low income people unless the government wants to promote software piracy. No person should be forced to break the law because they are required to respond to the ATO using a product that they cannot afford and therefore must steal. Surely an open, free and ubiquitous alternative is preferrable.
At the risk of opening up a can of worms and with the caveat that IANAL,
the point made final paragraph seems extremely weak to me. Surely there are
many ways to open a Word document without buying or stealing a copy of
Word. Borrowing a computer with appropriate software installed springs
to mind. Equating the ATO's use of word documents to inciting theft seems
like a long bow to draw.
I am very sympathetic to the cause at hand, but I don't think this point
adds to the message at all.
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