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09.04.08

Does India Bypass ISO with a New Policy?

Posted in Asia, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Several officials in several different nations have already called for a possible ISO replacement to serve as a criterion for technical selections. Things appear to be progressing and here are some of the latest reports.

ISO Becomes Irrelevant

The press just can’t leave ISO alone after that latest debacle [1, 2, Can ISO Be Still Saved from Microsoft?, 4]. Those who believe that they have seen the worst of it ought to check out ECT and David Berlind.

The move is prompting some members to question the organization’s very legitimacy.

 

My post here isn’t to say which ISO standard better or worse: OOXML or ODF. But, with the ISO’s approval of OOXML as a standard for the same thing that the ISO-ratified ODF does, the ISO is now getting outted for the way its practices could plunge it into irrelevancy. ArsTechnica recently published a post under the headline ISO: procedural shortcuts OK, OpenXML appeal denied. Pamela Jones over at Groklaw asks why certain provisos in the ISO’s own directives document are somehow getting overlooked. And there are tons of other posts about the issue amounting to a collective “What the ?” from the Internet community.

At Linux Journal, consensus and transparency are discussed in this context.

But when countries start questioning the entire standardization process, or worse, as is the case with the fight over Open XML, start accusing the standards body of being unduly influenced by corporate concerns, we then have a real issue that needs to be looked at deeper. Standards bodies cannot afford to be even thought of being driving by a corporate perspective, despite the fact that many standards start out that way. Standards bodies, to be of any value must be independent, and must be willing to consider, up to a reasonable point, objections to the standard. If not, then the whole issue of a standard is moot.

It makes the point that if ISO becomes just a ‘front’ for a company, then it’s hardly more ethical or authoritative than the BSA or the RIAA. it’s an illusion of independence and Microsoft’s capture of ISO is a known problem.

Indian Policies Become Incompatible with OOXML

Over in India, claims a reader, “it is a happy moment. One of the demands of FSUG — Bangalore’s campaign for document freedom — was a national policy for open standards.”

“This comes shortly after India’s protest and appeal against ISO’s decision regarding OOXML.”According to the guys who are pushing for change over there, “[t]he government has released a draft version of a Policy on Open standards for e-Governance. It is presently open for Public review.”

“The policy seems to have some really good points,” they argue, citing as examples the following:

5.1) Mandatory Characteristics:

5.1.1)Selected Standard should be Royalty Free for life time of the standard.

5.1.2)Selected Standard should be developed in a collaborative and consensus manner and not led by a single agency or a small closed group of interested parties

5.1.3)Selected Standard should be recursively open; They shall not use unpublished extensions

Here is the policy document [PDF] in its current form.

It’s still open for discussion (here or elsewhere). This comes shortly after India’s protest and appeal against ISO’s decision regarding OOXML.

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

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