The Attali Commission report, among other things, strongly recommended the strict circumscription of the Precautionary Principle, the zero-risk threshold of which was found to encourage risk aversion, reliance upon social welfare state provisions and, consequently, calls by local industries for greater international trade regulation, and hence, protectionism. The Attali Commission concluded that the Precautionary Principle, as it has been applied in France, continues to serve as a disincentive for businesses and individuals to engage in the kinds of entrepreneurial risk-taking and scientific and technological innovation activities that are necessary and which, in fact, will lead to economic growth in France.
There is at least one 2008 article which verifies that these actions were recommended by the Attali Commission ,and it voices the concerns of "the French association of software publishers, Afdel...[which was quoted as saying]...that the commission Attali turned its back on innovation by recommending Open Source. Afdel fears commercial software companies will be excluded from public IT projects. 'The commission Attali surprisingly favours a strategy to cut costs, instead of favouring the growth of an industry that employs 60,000 people'" Indeed, this same article reflects that the Attali Commission had previously mandated a quota for government acquisitions of Open Source (royalty and/or proprietary-free) software platforms for public IT projects - "The Attali report lists three recommendations. First, competition between the two types of software should be increased in bidding for new IT projects, including public projects. As a result in 2012 at least 20 percent of all applications developed for or installed by the public sector should be Open Source." See FR:Government Economic Commission Recommends Open Source, European Communities (May 28, 2008) at OSOR.eu at:
Lastly, a 2005 study prepared on behalf of the European Parliament strongly suggests that the application of the Precautionary Principle to the ICT sector has as its philosophical justification/basis, in part, the very trade protectionism that the Attali Commission is now recommending against.
"The Precautionary Principle in the information society can be articulated as follows: In order to enable society now and in the future to make relevant choices in the use of Information and Communication Technologies, as well to minimize harm for human health and the environment caused by ICT, ICT-related decisions under uncertainty should favor [ ] lower complexity over higher complexity[,] open standards over proprietary standards[,] and adapting the technology to humans over adapting humans to the technology" (emphasis added). 1
...“Pervasive Computing refers to visionary new ways of applying Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to our daily lives. It involves the miniaturization and embedding of microelectronics in non-ICT objects and wireless networking, making computers ubiquitous in the world around us. Unlike most of today’s ICT products, Pervasive Computing components will be equipped with sensors enabling them to collect data from their surroundings without the user’s active intervention. If our daily life is to be pervaded in such ways by microelectronic components, running all the time with most of them wirelessly networked, one must ask whether these technologies might not have undesirable side-effects. The expected benefits need to be weighed against the potential risks involved in implementing such technological visions. When comparing opportunities with risks, we will have to answer the basic question of the ethics of technology: ‘Which technologies do we want in our lives, and what kind of a world would that be?’” (emphasis added) 2
“...The free space theory says that the PP is intended to preserve free space for the activities of future generations. This applies for example to future activities that pollute the environment in that the permitted environmental pollution (according to the risk limit) is not exhausted. However, the free space may also be applied to a modified assessment and evaluation, since values, laws and risk acceptance change in society and new scientific knowledge is acquired (‘risk of change’). Things that are regarded as unobjectionable today may be seen as unacceptable damage tomorrow…According to Van den Daele (2001), the PP is used to bring technological development more firmly into the sphere of influence of politics and society. This appears necessary because technical progress not only brings natural risks into the ambit of human decisions, but at the same time creates new risks. New technologies can have unacceptable side-effects for society. The PP is intended to guarantee that society is able to make a conscious decision for or against entering into such risks, even where there is uncertainty over the existence and extent of a risk. The PP is not only an important principle in national and international environmental policy, but it is now also being extended to consumer protection policy. According toVan den Daele, the areas of damage associated with the notion of risk (originally health and the environment) have now been further extended to include social problems or changes in moral principles (Daele, 1991, quoted in Wiedemann/Brüggemann, 2001). With the extended scope of the PP, even the possibility of a change in applicable values would have to be treated as a risk and minimised. The question therefore arises whether, on the basis of current values, a possible change in those values can be regarded as an opportunity or a risk. Certainly such processes should be given over to a social discourse more than others (Habermas 2001), since it is obvious that society is redefining its value coordinate system and takes decisions on new technologies not just within the framework of such a system. It is not acceptable for technology to establish ‘faits accomplis’ and thereby stipulate moral standards without any reflection on the subject. It should merely be pointed out that Pervasive Computing has the potential to change moral standards in society, for example the standards representing the boundaries between the private and the public spheres” (boldfaced emphasis added) 3
“[T]he decisive step on the way [of ICT]to causing (possible) damage is the propagation of a technology together with the nature of its use…The use of a technology that has been propagated interacts both with the behaviour of users and with the use of other technologies. The propagation of a widely used technology is reversible in theory, but irreversible in practice. Once a technology has been propagated, the costs to the national economy of adjusting the course of the trend would be very high, if the legal requirements for such an adjustment are satisfied at all. In such cases, we talk about socioeconomic irreversibility. For this reason, precaution must be exercised in the case of technologies such as ICT which are very widely used in respect of the development and diffusion of technologies” (emphasis in original; boldfaced emphasis added). 4
“...In summary, it must be stated that there are three reasons why in the context of the information society the PP can be construed not only in terms of the ‘Emission-Transmission-Exposure’ arrangement:
1. The diffusion of very widely used technologies (mass market products) such as ICT currently in use is socio-economically irreversible.
2. A high number of emission sources can lead to unwanted exposure even where missions are limited at source. In addition, those affected have little opportunity to react to such ubiquitous risks.
3. Precaution against social effects of a technology is not covered by the concept of ‘avoiding harmful impacts’.
These reasons also apply to some other widely used technologies and are therefore not only relevant in the context of the information society. However, they are particularly pertinent in the case of PvC because the widespread use of this technology, its ubiquity and its penetration of all areas of life are an express part of the vision. This observation raises a dilemma regarding the precautionary measures that may become policy as a result of a technology assessment:
• If the problem is tackled in a broader sense ‘at source’ and the development and diffusion of technologies are regulated, there is a risk of inefficiency and of conflicts, since the measures may, for example, infringe international agreements (WTO) as technical barriers to trade. [WTO Trade Barrier concerns if Government policies are too heavy-handed]
FR: Government economic commission recommends Open Source
France should increase the use of Open Source software. That is one many recommendations offered by an economic commission Attali headed by French economist and policy adviser Jacques Attali.
As in the United States, the French government should secondly consider tax benefits to stimulate Open Source development. The third recommendation is that France helps to establish international rules on interoperability between Open and closed source software.