OMB: Procuring software along with computer hardware may lessen use of counterfeit programs
MANILA, Philippines – The Optical Media Board (OMB) has urged government agencies to procure computer software hand-in-hand with hardware, to avoid the use of counterfeit and unlicensed programs in the discharge of public functions.
OMB Chief Atty. Anselmo Adriano said on Monday that OMB and the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPBB) have created a system where procurement requests for computer equipment should come with the software needed to operate it.
“Since the OMB is regulating the importation as well as the retail of business software in its physical form, we had this agreement with the GPBB to make sure that when government procures hardware, it will necessarily include software,” Adriano told reporters at the sidelines of an anti-piracy summit on Monday.
According to him, what happens in the past is that only the trial version of the software is purchased. And when the trial version expires, some government offices are forced to download free product keys or key generators which may be interlaced with system-damaging or theft-inducing malware.
“That has been a problem in the past. When government procures hardware, most often than not it does not include the software, or if there is software included, it’s usually the trial version. So once the trial version expires, and there being no budget for government, so in order not to lay waste to the hardware, there would be times that they may have to use unlicensed software,” he explained.
“In order to prevent that, we have recommended to the GPBB to include in its procurements — one, to make sure that only licensed and accredited suppliers by the OMB will be allowed to deal with government […] and second, to also ensure that only licensed software will be used by government-procured computers,” he added.
Earlier this year, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) labeled the Philippines as one of the US’ trading partners whose government offices still use unlicensed software. The country’s Intellectual Property Office (IPOPHL) has previously urged offices not to use counterfeit software.
Adriano said agencies forming the National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR), like OMB and IPOPHL, have committed to rid their offices of unlicensed software to set an example for other government outlets.
“During the last two previous meetings of the NCIPR, that issue was actually raised and tackled. As a matter of fact, there was even an initiative to conduct a self-check among the member agencies, and make an audit of all software used,” Adriano noted.
“It’s sort of showing to the whole bureaucracy that we ourselves are practically piracy-free, and to be emulated by other government agencies […] Well I cannot say for the other agencies because there are small agencies which could do that in a short period of time. But one thing I can say is that everyone is already starting towards that audit,” he added.
According to Senior Director Tarun Sawney of BSA The Software Alliance, a non-government organization that pushes for the use of licensed software, they do not have a rough estimate of how many government offices are still using unlicensed software.
However, Sawney, who also spoke during the summit, said that at least 64 percent of private companies in the Philippines are still using unlicensed software. These companies, he added, are exposing themselves to higher chances of cyberattacks.
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