Software is considered Ethical Open Source (EOS) when it meets all of these criteria:

  • It benefits the commons. The license under which the software is released must not prohibit modification, derivative works, and linking or compiling with other software (unless under a copyleft provision), in the general spirit of open source distribution. It is created in the open. The source code must be publicly available, developed and maintained in public view, and welcoming of public contributions (subject to review and approval by the software project’s maintainers.)

  • Its community is welcoming and just. The software project’s community of maintainers and contributors must be governed by a comprehensive code of conduct that is consistently and fairly enforced.

  • It puts accessibility first. If the software has a user interface, it must be designed with accessibility in mind, ensuring all software functionality is available to all users, including users who may rely on assistive devices.

  • It prioritizes user safety. The software must be designed with features and safeguards that minimize the risk of abuse or harm to others through the use of the software.

  • It protects user privacy. If the software collects end-user data, the entity running the software must, upon request, delete or provide to the end-user any and all data generated and stored from the end-user’s usage of the software. All such data provided to the end-user must be in either a human-readable or widely interoperable open format.

  • It encourages fair compensation. The software project’s maintainers may, at their discretion, request remuneration in the form of code contributions, financial consideration, or other forms of voluntary support from organizations that derive commercial value from the software.