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Peru's parliament approves pro-open source bill

'Bill here. Get Steve on a flight to Lima'

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Legislators in Peru have approved a hotly contested bill sanctioning use of open source software by government and levelling the playing field for start-ups against Microsoft.

The Peruvian Congress has passed a bill that prohibits any public institution from buying systems that tie users into any particular type of software or that limits "information autonomy". Public institutions are also barred from having a pre-determined preference for either proprietary software or open-source software.

The bill is the product of three years' work from its chief sponsor, Congressman Edgar Villanueva. During that time, there have been claims of all kinds of pressure on Peru to kill the bill. This ranged from the ominous - official US disapproval - to the generous: a $500,000 donation to the Peruvian school system by Microsoft's chief software architect, Bill Gates, on a visit to the country in 2002.

Congressman Villanueva also famously penned a detailed letter in support of the bill designed to rebut FUD allegedly circulated by Microsoft against his work.

Peru's president, Alejandro Toledo, now has 25 working days to either sign the bill into law or send it back to Congress for modification. If Toledo does approve the bill, then Peru would be joining a growing roster of national, regional and city authorities internationally either approving or actively encouraging adoption of open-source software. ®

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