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03.23.10

Bruce Perens Sheds Light on How Microsoft Controls the Government, Using Lobbyists

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell, OSI at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft

Richard Stallman and the GPLv3

Bruce Perens at the launch event of GPLv3

Summary: Bruce Perens explains what he has seen Microsoft doing inside governments in order to marginalise Free software, mostly through hired guns like CompTIA and ACT

MICROSOFT IS A political problem, not just a technical problem. In previous posts we showed how Microsoft controls the United States government (along with other proprietary software companies), but it’s not just a problem in the United States.

For those who are not familiar with Bruce Perens, here are some of our posts that mention him:

Perens has just published this post about government legislation where he writes:

Equal Representation, and Visibility of Lobbying

It’s been obvious, whenever I talk with government, that there’s a well-staffed Microsoft lobbying organization nearby, as well as intermediaries who act for them like CompTIA. Against them, there’s been a low or no-budget representation for Open Source, sometimes just me all alone. And of course the proprietary software companies can afford more advertising and they create lavish events to promote themselves.

To level out this situation, and many others, we need required public reporting of all lobbying, including the parties present, the time and duration of the meeting, and the topics discussed. The general public should be able to see that information on the internet with no more than a day’s delay, if they are to have a chance to offset the effect of the deep-pockets lobbyists.

In addition, there needs to be legislation protecting and promoting the access of the less-grandly-funded to those in government who have or will receive other lobbies, so that there can be balance of representation.

The only group he mentions by name is CompTIA, whose corruption of the political system and standards body we have documented in many past posts. Bruce Perens has already responded to ACT, which is another Microsoft front group (Perens knows that). Both groups happen to have lobbied intensively against ODF and for OOXML. Given Microsoft’s history of corruption when it comes to document formats, nobody should be surprised that Microsoft uses outside lobbying groups. From Italy we hear that this corruption never ends. Posted some days ago:

Microsoft, where did you get those data about OpenDocument?

[...]

I already explained in another article that open file formats are essential to save money in Public Administrations and make them more efficient and that the right choice for office document is the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Since I regularly follow these themes, in September 2009 I received this request from outside Italy:

I have read in a report that: “According to Microsoft Italian regional authorities have examined ODF, but proposal for adopting ODF as the mandatory standard have been rejected” (translated by the sender of the message). This fact probably comes from this Microsoft paper. And we are trying to fact check it… can you help?

Back then I knew, just as I know today, that there is no law or regulation in Italy, not even at the city level, that mandates ODF as the only accepted format for office documents, regardless of the context. What I did come across in the last year, instead, were cases where nobody seemed to know about ODF or law proposals that, albeit unvoluntarily, may make the situation even worse. However, I did not remember ever reading about proposals of that kind.

Over in the UK, the story is similar but Microsoft’s lobbying groups are slightly different. Tim Anderson, a British Microsoft booster, gives lip service to a company which says that the UK government only gives lip service to F/OSS. Anderson writes about the claims from Ingres:

Ingres has a direct commercial interest in this, of course, so such statements are not surprising. Shine has a point though. It takes more than a few speeches to change the software culture of the myriad departments and other state-run entities that between them compose government IT.

Anderson is being an apologist here. It’s not just about Ingres getting a contract; it’s about a nation sticking to standards and to code that it actually owns and is allowed to modify and redistribute. It’s about the United Kingdom not being a hostage of some convicted monopoly abuser from the United States. There is no need for Microsoft apologists here, as they seem not to comprehend the very fundamental issues. The same goes for accomplices like BECTA, who take a similar approach of lip service. They try to silence opposition this way.

“It is crooked politicians like Luc Pierre Devigne and Pedro Velasco-Martins who allow this to happen.”Earlier today we posted videos from yesterday's event about ACTA, which Richard Stallman calls “Anti-Citizen Tyranny Agreement”. It shows how few super-wealthy corporations (mostly from the United States, but there is one Vivendi employee praising ACTA from the audience) take control of the law and actually run the governments against the people. It is crooked politicians like Luc Pierre Devigne and Pedro Velasco-Martins who allow this to happen. Given increased transparency, we can more effectively expose the conspirators involved in these unconstitutional steps that countries are taking to pass control to other counties (specifically to corporations in other countries). Here in the UK we have Mandelson with his Digital Economy Bill (DEB).

Leila Deen and Lord Mandelson
“Business secretary Peter Mandelson is slimed by an environmental protestor outside the Royal Society on Carlton House Terrace, Pall Mall after allegations of ‘favours for friends’ over the Heathrow third runway decision” [Courtesy of "Plane Stupid", via Wikimedia]

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A Single Comment

  1. uberVU - social comments said,

    March 26, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Identica by schestowitz: Bruce Perens Explains How #Microsoft Controls the #Government , Using Lobbyists http://ur1.ca/rcmu #act #comptia…

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