The idea of Free Software was formalised in the early eighties. Today, the movement that was initiated by a few academics has become a social phenomenon in its own right. Every day, millions of users (individuals, nonprofits and NGOs, businesses, local governments, public administrations, etc.) enjoy the four freedoms that come with Free Software: the freedom to use, study, modify, and redistribute it.
The social stakes
Since it is developed in an open manner, it is not tainted by commercial traps, spyware or user lock-in. Free Software has been initiating a major cooperative project. It is a tool for digital inclusion. As it is distributed with its recipe, you can study how it works, reuse it, and share it. Collaborative development methods via the Internet allow for easy transfer of skills, and ensure the widest possible dissemination. With Free Software you control your computing; it doesn’t control you.
The economic stakes
Free Software provides more independence and better control of maintenance and internal development costs. It is thus quite appropriate for a dynamic and competitive economy. The number of companies that use Free Software is constantly increasing worldwide. Since Free Software is available to everyone, it encourages innovation by allowing new actors to start a business at low cost. Since it is protected from the monopolies of large proprietary companies, it makes creative and autonomous development policies easier to implement.
The strategic stakes
Since it is unencumbered by either usage restrictions or license costs, Free Software allows public administrations and policy makers to retain control of their own data. Thus, for a number of years now, both in State and local governments, entire branches of information systems have been switching to Free Software. In a world where surveillance is generalized, Free Software is an essential tool for protecting and perpetuating your data (files, photos, videos, etc.)