Tuesday, 03 April 2018 09:07

Republicans seek information on open source security, stability

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Republican members of the US Government's Committee on Energy and Commerce have sought information from the Linux Foundation on the open source software that is most critical to global information infrastructure and the sustainability and stability of the open source software ecosystem.

Greg Walden, the chairman, and Gregg Harper, chairman of the sub-committee on oversight and investigations, wrote to Linux Foundation chief executive Jim Zemlin on Monday, saying they were seeking the information to gain a deeper understanding of the open source software ecosystem.

They pointed to the fact that, following the discovery of the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL, the Foundation had set up a Core Infrastructure Initiative to fund and support critical elements of the global information infrastructure.

Citing the case of proprietary software companies like Adobe, Microsoft and Apple, Walden and Harper claimed these entities had a process and procedure in place to quickly address vulnerabilities and also the time and funding to do so.

"This is not always the case for OSS vulnerabilities, as OSS creators or maintainers may be globally-located volunteers, who often have unrelated full-time employment and may be uncompensated for their OSS work," the letter said.

The questions to which the two members of Congress sought answers are:

  • "Has the CII performed a comprehensive study of which pieces of OSS are most critical to the 'global information infrastructure'?
  • "If not does the CII plan to perform such a study?
  • "What would the CII need in order to do so?
  • "Has the CII, or any other organisation, compiled any statistics on OSS usage?
  • "If not, does the CII plan to perform such a study?
  • "What would the CII need in order to do so?
  • "In your estimation, how sustainable and stable is the OSS ecosystem?
  • "Based on your response to the previous question, how can the OSS ecosystem be made more sustainable and stable?"

Answers have been sought from Zemlin by 16 April.

iTWire has contacted Zemlin for his reaction.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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