03.24.09

Gemini version available ♊︎

Does the European Commission Harbour a Destruction of Free/Open Source Software Workgroup?

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Access to already-leaked documents is denied, despite clear rules that make it an obligation

HAVING WITNESSED some serious injustices where Microsoft's American lobbyists took over Europe and subverted the continent's assessment of Free software, we decided to respond. Recall “Innovation Day” and the Wiki-leaked document that eventually reached Matt Asay at CNET. Since it had become public knowledge that all of this was happening, it was only reasonable to ask for the full details to be revealed. So we embarked on little journey that we shall describe hereon.

The first step was a request for the documents. These should be in the public record, even without getting leaked out. It is, after all, the “free open source” component of the European Software Strategy.

After a long look and some inquiries, we managed to get hold of E-mail addresses from which to request the documents simultaneously, not independently as that would lead to duplication of effort. We sent this to two of the (potentially) responsible people, only one of whom replied, which makes perfect sense.

Here is the first communication:

Request for the Contributions of ACT to European Commission Report

Hi,

I have just read http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10193433-16.html with great concern. This suggests that a Microsoft lobbyist, J Zuck, is tilting a report on open source software against its whole raison detre? Since I can only find this document in Wikileaks (and it is therefore out there already), would it please be possible for me to receive a copy of Zuck’s edits? I have always mailed Zuck and he confirmed to me that he is on this panel.

Could you please send me confirmation that you have received this request and preferably mail me the edits too? This should be an open process

I appreciate your time.

We received a response shortly afterwards:

Dear Mr. Schestowitz,

All request from the press should be directed towards the spokespersons of the relevant area.

We replied:

Hi [anonymised],

Thank you for responding.

Who is the spokesperson in this case? I could find no information about it, but I do know about my entitlement to receive this information:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32001R1049:EN:HTML (Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents)

One of our involved readers responded with “An outrage I say. An absolute outrage! Europe to the Europeans!”

The response we received next is the following:

Dear Mr. Schestowitz,

The document you are referring to is not a European Commission document, but a document that are made by Zuck and many others from industry.

All the European Commission’ spokespersons are listed here: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/communication/contact_en.htm

This page contains the names of about 100 people. We are not able to see who to speak to, having already identified the people who are adequate for this type of communication. So they pushed us away, which was not terribly useful.

Next, we wanted to get an official answer from the Spokesman. We were also advised to prepare a list of E-mail addresses of MEPs of the LIBE committee who are responsible for the pending access to documents directive. We accumulated this information and sent another polite request similar to the one above, namely:

I have just read http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-10193433-16.html with great concern. This suggests that a Microsoft lobbyist, J Zuck, is tilting a report on open source software against its whole raison detre? Since I can only find this document in Wikileaks (and it is therefore out there already), would it please be possible for me to receive a copy of Zuck’s edits? I have always mailed Zuck and he confirmed to me that he is on this panel.

Could you please send me confirmation that you have received this request and preferably mail me the edits too? This should be an open process[1].

I appreciate your time.

_____
[1] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32001R1049:EN:HTML (Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents)

[...]

3 days have passed and we received no response from this third person. We omit names to protect their privacy.

Going back to the more responsive correspondent, getting a reply is one thing, but according to the legal base, we must make a “confirmatory application”, so we did. Commission officials are obliged to help us and it is irrelevant who wrote it. What counts is that the Commission is in possession of the document. If they say it is a document of “the industry”, then they are obliged to consult the third party if they are in possession of it. To quote the legal base:

(a) “document” shall mean any content whatever its medium (written on paper or stored in electronic form or as a sound, visual or audiovisual recording) concerning a matter relating to the policies, activities and decisions falling within the institution’s sphere of responsibility;

[...]

4. As regards third-party documents, the institution shall consult the third party with a view to assessing whether an exception in paragraph 1 or 2 is applicable, unless it is clear that the document shall or shall not be disclosed.

[...]

Article 6

Applications

1. Applications for access to a document shall be made in any written form, including electronic form, in one of the languages referred to in Article 314 of the EC Treaty and in a sufficiently precise manner to enable the institution to identify the document. The applicant is not obliged to state reasons for the application.

2. If an application is not sufficiently precise, the institution shall ask the applicant to clarify the application and shall assist the applicant in doing so, for example, by providing information on the use of the public registers of documents.

3. In the event of an application relating to a very long document or to a very large number of documents, the institution concerned may confer with the applicant informally, with a view to finding a fair solution.

4. The institutions shall provide information and assistance to citizens on how and where applications for access to documents can be made.”

Article 7

Processing of initial applications

1. An application for access to a document shall be handled promptly. An acknowledgement of receipt shall be sent to the applicant. Within 15 working days from registration of the application, the institution shall either grant access to the document requested and provide access in accordance with Article 10 within that period or, in a written reply, state the reasons for the total or partial refusal and inform the applicant of his or her right to make a confirmatory application in accordance with paragraph 2 of this Article.

2. In the event of a total or partial refusal, the applicant may, within 15 working days of receiving the institution’s reply, make a confirmatory application asking the institution to reconsider its position.

3. In exceptional cases, for example in the event of an application relating to a very long document or to a very large number of documents, the time-limit provided for in paragraph 1 may be extended by 15 working days, provided that the applicant is notified in advance and that detailed reasons are given.

4. Failure by the institution to reply within the prescribed time-limit shall entitle the applicant to make a confirmatory application.

We shared the response that we had initially received with one of our readers to get a second opinion. The person said: “I read that the commission is telling you that the leaked document does not belong to them which means: 1) they are taking distance from their own ESS initiative [OR] 2) they are scared to be identified by it.”

Moreover, said that reader, “you are ENTITLED to get assistance from the commission as long as it is an European commission-backed WG document. So you have to insist and demand this. At the very least you can report on the Commission’s attitude on this and attitude on Zuck.”

Finally, in order to make it more formal and compliant with the directive/regulations, we wrote again to the responsive official who is familiar with these matters. Our message — in full — was as follows:

Document access application purpusant to Article 6 EC/1049/2001

As a reply, please answer the following

1. If you intend that

“The document you are referring to is not a European Commission document, but a document that are made by Zuck and many others from industry.”

is a negative reply upon my 1049/2001 request of access to the document please consider the specific provisions of the regulation that guide your obligation in the formal processing of an application under 1049/2001. For instance you have the formal obligation to “inform the applicant of his or her right to make a confirmatory application in accordance with paragraph 2 of this Article.” and the statement above is not in line with the formalities under 1049/2001.

If your statement was such a negative official reply, please regard this mail as a request for a confirmatory application under 1049/2001 for access to European Software Strategy documents. The origination of the document is irrelevant. You have to state reasons for access refusal. I inform you about the substance of Art 4.4 “As regards third-party documents, the institution shall consult the third party with a view to assessing whether an exception in paragraph 1 or 2 is applicable, unless it is clear that the document shall or shall not be disclosed.”

If you regard it as just an informal preliminary communication please just process the following clarified primary application.

2. I hereby request electronic access to all documents related to the Towards the European Software Strategy process in the possession of the EU-Commission, in particular access to the following documents:
* the list of participants in the industry expert group
* the list of WGs, WGs sleaders and observing Commission officials
* draft contributions of all industry Working groups on a the European Software Strategy
* draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission
* the participant list of the related meeting on January 20th in Brussels
* all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation under the applicable provisions of regulation 1049/2001 which grant me a right of access to all documents mentioned above.

I appreciate your kind assistance. If you feel that you are unable to process my request yourself it is your obligation to forward it to the competent person in the Commission.

Fortunately, a formal acknowledgment was soon received:

Dear Mr Schestowitz,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 20/03/2009 registered on 23/03/2009 I hereby acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely,

[...]

Is this how politics are intended to work? Since we already possess evidence of a scandal and it’s all over the press, why can’t those officials come forward and offer the transparency they must, as a matter of law? Since they refuse to make reasonable disclosure upon request, this leaves room for more of a scandal. The first scandal is the involvement and subversion of the panel but the second is the officials’ refusal to resolve the issue or at least bring it to light.

pound puppies.
Keep out while the responsible adults do their thing…

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

5 Comments

  1. Reality Jones said,

    March 24, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Gravatar

    You’re looking for a scandal, but in reality it is more probable that the official who needs to reply to your request has yet to be identified by her or his 90,000 colleagues.

  2. NotZed said,

    March 24, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, that is exactly how politics works. Don’t be so naive!

    And one things the Europeans are good at is making the politics complicated.

    The only way to get results is if you have money – soft bribery or wasting it on lawyers.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    NotZed,

    Yes, that is exactly how politics works. Don’t be so naive!

    It was a rhetorical question. The text does not reflect on it.

  3. Ari T. said,

    March 26, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Gravatar

    “Yes, that is exactly how politics works. Don’t be so naive!”

    I can’t see anything naive in requiring openness from administration which is obliged by law to be open.

  4. S. Urukipe said,

    March 26, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Gravatar

    Maybe the first step should indeed have been to find out more about the context (European Software Strategy (NOT OSS Strategy as wikileaks still has it: http://wikileaks.org/wiki/European_Commission_OSS_Strategy_Draft%2C_Mar_2009), organisation of industry participation, type and status of working groups, type of target document from the Commission’s perspective etc.) rather than starting a doubtlessly lengthy process to get another copy of a document you already have. Everything seems to have started with this speach titled “Towards a European Software Strategy” by EU Commissioner Reding: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/reding/docs/speeches/brussels_20071119.pdf. If you google for the speech title you’ll find many papers by companies and associations that appear to have been drawn up in response. (NESSI has a document that appears to have been drawn up by the Commission as a summary of the input received, here: http://www.nessi-europe.com/Nessi/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=7teEO5hzywY%3D&tabid=304&mid=1571)

    Note that the FSFE has already made some relevant points about the wikileak document and its interpretation (particularly the need to be careful to avoid drawing premature conclusions): http://blogs.fsfe.org/greve/?p=251

    (As to the practicalities of finding the right people in the EU to talk to, note that the FSFE page mentions “DG INFSO” which I think is Commissioner Reding’s department so her spokesman should have the details.)

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, August 13, 2022

    IRC logs for Saturday, August 13, 2022



  2. Links 14/08/2022: Wine 7.15 and Haiku Activity Report

    Links for the day



  3. Official Copy Detailing Crimes of Microsoft's Serial Strangler, Who is Trying to Strangle GPL Enforcement/Compliance With GPL-Violating Copilot

    Violent sociopath Balabhadra Alex Graveley was arrested months ago (not that the media ever mentioned this!); He is Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot and he came up with this idea, along with Nat Friedman (his “best friend”), which is clearly an attack on the GPL or other copyleft licences (Microsoft exercises control over GitHub to suppress such licences).



  4. Inside the Minds of Microsoft's Media Operatives — Part VI — Lessons Learned on Moral Depravity

    So-called 'journalists' who are in fact Microsoft spinners are a truly toxic bunch; they're allergic to truth and dangerous to truth-tellers; they're better off avoided and exposed, not informed (or shown hard evidence) because their covert allegiance means they're simply a trap rather than genuine agents of truth in reporting, thinly disguised as "objectivity" (to better parcel the lies Microsoft tells)



  5. Jim Zemlin Giving His Talks on an Apple Mac Again? (July 2022)

    Mr. “Big Shot” (no personal accomplishment but power broker for monopolies which privatise the Commons) can’t even deliver a keynote speech properly; Maybe he should try using Free software to make his presentations; the proprietary software he uses clearly isn’t reliable enough



  6. Links 13/08/2022: Steam Deck as KDE-Based PC, Arduino Projects

    Links for the day



  7. Links 13/08/2022: Sparky 6.4 and Many Raspberry Pi Projects

    Links for the day



  8. How We Envision Information Flow on the Internet (and Offline)

    We're no longer just a Web site; in fact, we encourage others to look beyond the Web, which despite the media not talking about it has rapidly waned (many sites have already turned into "apps")



  9. IRC Proceedings: Friday, August 12, 2022

    IRC logs for Friday, August 12, 2022



  10. IPFS at Techrights: The So-called 'Web3' Cargo Cult, Except With Some Practical Benefits

    For censorship resistance’s sake we’re increasing our embrace or adoption of IPFS; almost all our archives are there



  11. Techrights Site Migration to Alpine Linux Has Already Started

    We’ve begun upgrading our systems and tidying up the growing piles of material



  12. Microsoft Lost About 70% of Its Relative Share in the United States (for Operating Systems)

    When mobile platforms are taken into account Windows suddenly seems vanishingly small; Microsoft therefore started blocking GNU/Linux from even booting on new PCs



  13. The World Wide Web is Shrinking and Microsoft's Share in Web Servers is Down to Just 3%

    Microsoft’s presence on the server side is just a niche. No wonder there are many Microsoft layoffs (about 20,000 staff) and Microsoft divisions are being silently shut down.



  14. Warrant of Arrest for Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot, Balabhadra Alex Graveley

    GitHub Copilot has been criticised for a lot of things, but blogs and the press never ever mention the "social justice" aspects of the thing (because they simply don't care)



  15. Links 12/08/2022: End of JingPad A1/JingOS, Russia Makes GNU/Linux Laptops

    Links for the day



  16. Links 12/08/2022: Kubuntu 22.04.1 LTS

    Links for the day



  17. Links 12/08/2022: PCLinuxOS Browser Refreshes

    Links for the day



  18. Links 12/08/2022: Apple Versus Telegram

    Links for the day



  19. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, August 11, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, August 11, 2022



  20. Inside the Minds of Microsoft's Media Operatives — Part V — In Deep Denial About One's Harm

    Source-burning Microsoft boosters, who vainly think of themselves as "journalists", respond to allegations of bias and dissemination of Microsoft falsehoods



  21. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XXV — Microsoft Employs Serial Strangler as a Manager, Running GitHub Copilot in Spite of Arrest for Assault on Women

    Now there is another woman saying that she was strangled by Alex Garveley; we keep hearing more and more of this, so it’s a chronic behaviour and it doesn’t seem to bother Microsoft, which provides funds to protect the strangler



  22. Links 11/08/2022: PostgreSQL Beta 3 Releases

    Links for the day



  23. Windows Falling Below 15% in Cuba This Month

    Now that Microsoft starts locking down and shutting out GNU/Linux (preventing it from even booting!) while laying off about 10% its own workers it’s important to understand that Windows is basically in serious trouble



  24. Links 11/08/2022: Point Release of Ubuntu 22.04 and GNUnet 0.17.4

    Links for the day



  25. Links 11/08/2022: Qt Creator 8.0.1 and Microsoft's 3-Year Bug Door

    Links for the day



  26. Not Everyone Buys the Latest Laptop With Microsoft Windows (Bloatware)

    In Sudan, the share of Windows fell from 99.1% to just 8.77% (in a matter of 13.5 years); Microsoft, which is collapsing (layoffs and shutdowns), is just trying to block people from booting Linux on laptops/desktops



  27. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, August 10, 2022

    IRC logs for Wednesday, August 10, 2022



  28. Microsoft Death Spiral: Microsoft Fires 200 Employees “Working to Win Back Customers”

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  29. Microsoft Firing 10%, Not 1%, of Staff (Microsoft Lies to the Media, Figures One Order of Magnitude Off)

    Microsoft’s loyal servants in the media jumped onboard and leaped into “damage control” mode (PR as “media”) with this fictional “reality” where only a “small percentage” of staff gets laid off (those talking points come from Microsoft’s media operatives, who have lied for the company for well over a decade)



  30. [Meme] The Present Microsoft: Bailouts, Bailouts, Bailouts

    Microsoft’s media moles spread the lie that only “1%” of staff is affected by Microsoft layoffs (familiar old lie; they also spin that as a routine thing) while Microsoft staff is getting tight with ‘travel’ money


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts