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Get FOSS-happy, China tells its financial institutions

Use it, contribute to it, respect its licences – and plan for security emergencies it creates

China has told its finance sector to embrace free and open source software (FOSS).

An opinion from the People's Bank of China and the nation's Central Cyberspace Administration essentially boils down to "go for it".

The document instructs China's financial sector players to use FOSS whenever they feel it is apposite, to contribute to FOSS projects, and to respect the licences under which such software is published. Financial institutions are also encouraged to collaborate with tech companies, universities and other institutions on FOSS efforts.

China's especially keen for its financial institutions to work on operating systems, databases, middleware, cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and blockchain projects.

Organisations are also told to be vigilant, by creating internal committees to assess FOSS security and by reviewing software supply chains.

One of the document's recommendations is that users need to create emergency plans in case FOSS is found to contain backdoors or security holes. China also appears to be aware of litigation alleging FOSS breaches patents, as the opinion spells out measures users should take to mitigate the risk of IP disputes.

It falls short of mandating FOSS, but strongly recommends participation in global FOSS creation efforts.

China has already had enormous success with FOSS – its telcos and web giants like Baidu and Tencent are among the world's biggest users of OpenStack and its existence helped them all to achieve extraordinary scale in a very short time.

The Middle Kingdom therefore has a very good example of FOSS bringing immense benefits, making these new edicts for the financial services community unsurprising. ®

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