EU Regulatory Success Prompts Open-Source CMS Leaders to Form Alliance

The regulatory landscape that the WordPress community finds itself in today is vastly different from where we’ve been. Governments are accelerating their regulatory oversight of technology and introducing new legislation regularly to try and catch up with the pace of innovation. 

In Europe recently we’ve seen two landmark pieces of legislation, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the proposed Cyber Resilience Act (CRA). While both have created news in technology circles it is the CRA that has been of particular concern to the WordPress community and other open-source projects. 

In an open letter to EU legislators in July 2023, the leaders of WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and TYPO3 highlighted the risks to open-source and began a collaborative effort called the Inter-CMS Working Group to bring about significant change to the wording proposed in the CRA.

The Impact of Collaborative Advocacy

In early December, after several months of dialogue, investigation and negotiation, the EU parliament released an updated draft of the legislation that looks to have resolved many of the primary concerns raised by open-source communities. The revised Act makes a concerted effort to ensure that the regulations are practical and do not hinder the collaborative spirit or the operational models that open-source projects rely on.

Building upon the foundation laid by the collaborative efforts to amend the CRA, the four open-source communities representing the Inter-CMS Working Group recently established the Open Web Alliance marking a significant evolution in the advocacy and collaboration landscape for open-source communities. 

This Alliance, now formalized with a charter, represents a collective commitment to furthering the education about and advocacy of open-source benefits and principles. Its creation is a direct result of the successful negotiation and dialogue with EU legislators, highlighting the power of unified action in the open-source world.

Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany.
Photo by Federico Orlandi on Pexels.com

The Future of the Open Web Alliance

The Open Web Alliance aims to promote and defend the rights of open-source projects, aspiring to create a better web. It emphasizes encouraging the use of open-source software, sharing best practices, and supporting third-party open-source projects. This collaborative body, while not a legal entity, signifies a structured approach to ensuring open-source software remains a vibrant and integral part of the digital landscape.

Moving forward, the presence of the Open Web Alliance could be a game-changer in how open-source communities navigate regulatory challenges and advocate for policies that recognize and support the unique nature of open-source development. Its charter underscores a commitment to openness, trust, and quality, offering a platform for open-source CMS projects to collaborate more effectively.

This transition toward a more formalized alliance underscores the WordPress community’s role not just in advocacy, but in shaping a future where open-source principles are acknowledged and protected in the global digital policy arena. The Open Web Alliance’s foundation and its charter reflect a mature, strategic approach to ensuring that the ethos of open-source software continues to thrive amidst an evolving regulatory landscape.

Navigating A Regulatory Future: Implications for WordPress Businesses

The recent developments around the CRA and the active role of the (now) Open Web Alliance highlight a broader trend: the regulatory landscape impacting open-source software is evolving. For WordPress businesses, the amendments to the CRA represent a momentary sigh of relief, but the horizon suggests that regulatory challenges will persist.

From a business perspective, the future willingness of enterprises and government entities to adopt open-source software may hinge on how effectively the community can navigate these regulations. The Open Web Alliance’s efforts to advocate for open-source principles–emphasizing security, reliability, and openness–become crucial in this context. 

It’s also worth considering that the relationship dynamics between government entities, enterprises, and open-source vendors are likely to evolve. A failure to leverage open-source software due to regulatory or compliance concerns could limit innovation and flexibility for governments and businesses alike. 

For the WordPress ecosystem, this underscores the importance of supporting initiatives like the Open Web Alliance, ensuring that open-source software remains a viable, attractive option for all users, regardless of the regulatory climate.

By focusing on education, advocacy, and the development of compliance tools, the WordPress community can help mitigate potential reservations from enterprise and government sectors. This proactive stance not only defends the community’s interests but also promotes the fundamental advantages of open-source software in fostering innovation, security, and a more inclusive digital future.

What do you think? Is this just a dodged bullet of government over-reach or the beginning of a new more regulated future? How do you think businesses and contributors should respond?

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