Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday asked the proponents of free software campaign to ensure that proliferation of IT reaches the rural areas to benefit the poor.
"Free software emerged from the bottom of the society and ordinary people were its beneficiaries. People ... took it forward from the technologists. It grew owing to collective efforts by the common people and became an alternative to the software monopolised by the multinational companies," said Vijayan.
He was speaking after inaugurating the sixth edition of "SWATANTRA 2017", a two-day triennial free software conference, organised here by the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) -- an autonomous organisation under the Kerala government's IT Department.
"Today, free software has come to represent democratisation of knowledge, freedom of people and sanctity of personal privacy. It's a strong weapon against digital technology-based exploitation.
"All over the world, regimes are trying to intrude into the privacy of people. Today, new digital technologies are being used as a weapon to hijack privacy and deny freedom. So, in the fight for protecting privacy and freedom, free software has a vital role," added Vijayan.
In her address, Karen Sandler, Director, Software Freedom Conservancy, said with the arrival of Internet of Things (IoT), it was not easy to know which all critical devices were communicating with each other.
"We all use technology in our daily life. If we continue to use proprietary software in our critical devices, we can't anticipate either the good or the bad of the future. So, it's vital to embrace free software," said Sandler.
Kerala for the past over a decade has been effectively campaigning for free software and the drive encompasses the government sector.
Around 400 free software enthusiasts from the IT sector are attending the conference.