New Zealand redefines open source as "code you can't modify"

New Zealand government officials have responded to my criticism of their newly released national DRM strategy -- their strategy for government adoption and use of technology that prevents copying and unauthorized use.

These technologies aren't fit for government use, for a number of reasons. Today, for example, whistle-blowers in government can take official documents that show malfeasance to an ombudsman or the press or their boss. Under the NZ proposal, they'll have to take their request for leaking sensitive information to a Ministry of DRM that will evaluate their request and determine whether to allow the disclosure. Even if you believe that such a Ministry would be efficient, honest, and even-handed, there's an undeniable chilling-effect inherent in having to approach a government ministry before releasing material that's damaging to the government.

Other problems abound, but the gravest is the harm to open source. Open source technology is technology that can be understood, modified, improved and re-published by its user. This methodology has produced the best server OS on the planet (GNU/Linux), the best browser (Firefox), the best mail-server, web-server, video-player, and so on. It's critical to security research, to development strategies for poor countries and rich, for education and for democracy.