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06.06.09

Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Funeral honours

Summary: Switzerland disobeys FOSS and standards recommendations; FUD is used to attack similar recommendations in the United States

THERE is a great divide between those who are serious about moving their authorities to Free(dom) software and those who simply stand in the way. According to this short new report from Switzerland, people in government do not obey their own recommendations. But this probably misses the reality of the matter; it’s more likely that recommendations are made by one set of people and then get ignored by another set which is having lunch with Microsoft executives or simply knows nothing (but myths) about Free software.

Government computers slow to go ‘open source

[...]

Matthias Stürmer, spokesman for the Swiss Open Systems User Group, an association advocating for open-source technology, told WRS’s Jordan Davis that the government hasn’t even followed its own recommendations.

For some context about this situation in Switzerland:

  1. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  2. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  3. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  4. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  5. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  6. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  7. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  8. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
  9. Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand

The Switzerland story is by no means unique; in fact, it’s likely to be the norm in a lot of Europe and it needs to be tackled appropriately.

We may be witnessing a similar situation in the United States. Whereas the new US CIO openly endorses a fair deal of Free software, the more hostile press uses his statement/s in the headline to capture innocent readers and convince them that this is a bad idea.

Such irresponsible case of ‘smeareporting’ has been spotted by the president of the OSI, who wrote a lengthy rebuttal that addresses old myths.

US CIO Vivek Kundra Advocates Open Source Software

According to a feature article in Federal Computer Weekly, the Obama Administration’s new CIO Vivek Kundra has specifically called out open source as one of the key technology initiatives he will support to make the government work better at a lower cost (and with greater transparency). But the article continues to point out what seem to be persistent talking points of the FUD spinner, and this is where we need to make some real progress.

[...]

Some have gone to such great lengths for so long that even a good news story, like open source finding support from the highest technology executive in the country, can inadvertently beat the same FUD-FUD-FUD drumbeat we’ve been hearing these past ten years, just by trying to follow the standard formula of any story told about open source over the past 10 years in the trade press. As an antidote, I propose more talk about the specifics of what people are actually doing and less time talking with those who, contrary to all evidence, claim it cannot be done.

It seems as though the folks at Federal Computer Weekly have removed the article (their Windows-powered site returns an error, but Google Cache still shows the article). This site happens to be a sister site of GCN, where the likes of Joab Jackson are routinely attacking competition of Microsoft, such as ODF.

Just because the names of the sites contain the words “Federal” or “Government” does not mean that they are affiliated with authorities. They more likely use this as a platform to share their convictions and maybe advance their agenda, whatever it might be.

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A Single Comment

  1. pcolon said,

    June 6, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Gravatar

    Governments are the worst offenders of freedom and veracity, that includes their IT, where it’s a fertile breeding ground for FUD and disingenuous information. It’s the last place you can look at, concerning technological progress, because of the continual corporate nepotism and legal bribery.

    Its amazing how small to medium sized businesses migrate quickly to FOSS yet government IT gurus can’t seem to get any traction to move towards implementing free open source software.

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