EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.04.11

Cablegate: Microsoft Attacks Free/Libre Software in Tunisia With a Ben Ali Deal, Conspiring to Also Spy on the Population

Posted in Africa, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 6:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: Gory details (given the revolution that came later) leak out through Wikileaks, which helps show how Microsoft does politics to impose user-hostile software on entire nations, defying their policies in the process

Found via the post “Microsoft et Ben Ali : Wikileaks confirme les soupçons d’une aide pour la surveillance des citoyens Tunisiens” was this very interesting diplomatic cable which sheds light on collaboration between two thugs, Steve Ballmer and Ben Ali. It not only shows Microsoft driving over Free software policies but it also shows Microsoft assisting the government’s attack on the population, which later overthrew Ben Ali. Those who insist that software is not political can bury their heads in the sand or alternatively read the following Cablegate cable. We emphasise some bits of interest in it:


VZCZCXRO7019
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTU #2424/01 2651044
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221044Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1903
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0796
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 7294
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1182
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT PRIORITY 0784
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1635
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8221
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI PRIORITY 0395
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA PRIORITY 3995
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TUNIS 002424 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/MAG (HARRIS) AND EB/CIP 
STATE PASS USTR (BELL), USPTO (ADLIN AND ADAMS), USAID 
(MCCLOUD) 
USDOC FOR ITA/MAC/ONE (ROTH), ADVOCACY CTR (JAMES), AND 
CLDP (TEJTEL) 
CASABLANCA FOR FCS (ORTIZ) 
LONDON AND PARIS FOR NEA WATCHER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2016 
TAGS: ECON TINT KIPR ECPS TS
SUBJECT: MICROSOFT INKS AGREEMENT WITH GOT 
 
¶1. (SBU) Summary: During the Microsoft Government Leaders 
Forum in South Africa July 11-12, the GOT and the Microsoft 
Corporation signed a partnership agreement that provides for 
Microsoft investment in training, research, and development, 
but also commits the GOT to using licensed Microsoft 
software.  According to Microsoft Tunisia Director General 
Salwa Smaoui, the agreement is a win-win for both Microsoft 
and the GOT.  The negotiation process and the brokered deal 
itself are illustrative of GOT priorities and the cost of 
doing business in Tunisia.  End Summary. 
 
¶2. (SBU) The agreement between Microsoft and the GOT was 
signed in July during the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum 
in South Africa.  Although signed in July, information about 
the agreement has not been forthcoming from either the GOT or 
Microsoft and, despite repeated requests, Microsoft has yet 
to provide post with a copy of the final agreement.  In a 
September meeting with EconOffs, Microsoft Tunisia Director 
General Salwa Smaoui provided an overview of the main points. 
 The final agreement outlines cooperation on GOT 
e-governance, cyber security, intellectual property rights, 
and capacity development for Tunisian information technology 
programs.  Microsoft will establish a Microsoft Innovation 
Center in Tunisia for developing local software production 
capacity by providing training and consulting services to 
software developers.  Expanding the Tunisian IT sector has 
become a priority for the GOT as a way to absorb the growing 
number of unemployed university graduates.  According to 
Smaoui, the GOT invests approximately one percent of GDP in 
research and development in the IT sector.  Microsoft has 
also agreed to provide training to handicapped Tunisians to 
enable them to seek employment in the IT sector by 
telecommuting. (Note: President Ben Ali's wife Leila Ben Ali 
runs a charity for handicapped Tunisians.  End Note.) 
 
¶3. (U) As part of the agreement, Microsoft will help the GOT 
to upgrade and modernize its computers and networking 
capabilities.  In turn, the GOT agreed to purchase twelve 
thousand licenses to update government computers with 
official Microsoft software, rather than the pirated versions 
that have been commonly used, according to one Microsoft 
employee.  Since 2001, the GOT adopted an open software 
policy, using only free software programs.  Additionally, 
future GOT tenders for IT equipment will specify that the 
equipment must be Microsoft compatible, which is currently 
prohibited by the Tunisian open software policy. 
 
¶4. (SBU) The agreement also touches on internet security. 
Through a program on cyber criminality, Microsoft will train 
government officials in the Ministries of Justice and 
Interior on how to use computers and the internet to fight 
crime.  As part of this program, Microsoft will provide the 
GOT with original source codes for its programs.  When asked 
by EconOff whether Microsoft had any concerns about releasing 
its source codes, Smaoui replied that the source codes would 
only be available to a small number of officials. 
Nevertheless, the agreement contains language stating the 
Microsoft and the GOT will work jointly on intellectual 
property rights.  This agreement also provides for a separate 
agreement to be signed creating a security cooperation 
program that will provide more general internet security 
training to the public. 
 
¶5. (C) According to Smaoui, the agreement is the culmination 
of a five-year negotiation process.  Smaoui was named 
Microsoft's Director General for Tunisia about one year ago 
and, although currently hesitant to fully disclose the final 
details, provided frequent updates to Post on the progress of 
the negotiations.  She reported that at times the GOT's 
suspicion of Microsoft because of its "American-ness" seemed 
to outweigh its technical evaluation of the proposal.  She 
said that she had been asked several times by GOT ministers 
why, as a Tunisian, she was "working for the Americans," and 
often felt suspicion bordering on hostility during the 
negotiations.  Smaoui also noted that the GOT wanted a 
 
TUNIS 00002424  002 OF 002 
 
 
"tailor-made" agreement, rather than a prepackaged program 
that would be "imposed" on Tunisia.  This attitude towards 
the negotiation process required Microsoft to focus just as 
carefully on the presentation as the substance. 
 
¶6. (C) In a call on DCM a few days before the South Africa 
Forum, Smaoui worried that she was going to the Forum without 
a signed agreement in hand and could not confirm that the 
GOT's representative would even show up.  She fretted that 
she might have to confess to Bill Gates that she had no 
reason to be at the Forum.  In the event, Khedija Ghariani, 
Secretary of State for Computers, Internet, and Free 
 
SIPDIS 
Software, attended and signed the agreement on behalf of the 
GOT.  Despite the drawn-out negotiations, Smaoui stated that 
reaching an agreement was "vital" for Microsoft.  The fact 
that the government relied on open source software 
drastically limited business in Tunisia and prevented 
Microsoft from participating in GOT tenders.  Additionally, 
the agreement reinforces an objective both Microsoft and the 
GOT share -- establishing a knowledge society.  Smaoui stated 
that even though Microsoft will be investing in Tunisia, the 
sum of investment will be lower than the cost of GOT 
purchases. 
 
¶7. (C) Comment: Although the agreement has been hailed as a 
triumph for intellectual property rights, the negotiations 
and the brokered deal itself reveal a more complicated 
reality.  Microsoft was able to broker the final agreement by 
appealing to GOT unemployment sensitivities as well as by 
adapting to the realities of doing business in Tunisia.  Even 
as the goal of expanding employment opportunities for 
handicapped Tunisians is worthy, the program's affiliation 
with Leila Ben Ali's charity is indicative of the backroom 
maneuvering sometimes required to finalize a deal. 
Microsoft's reticence to fully disclose the details of the 
agreement further highlights the GOT emphasis on secrecy over 
transparency.  In theory, increasing GOT law enforcement 
capability through IT training is positive, but given 
heavy-handed GOT interference in the internet, Post questions 
whether this will expand GOT capacity to monitor its own 
citizens.  Ultimately, for Microsoft the benefits outweigh 
the costs.  End Comment. 
BALLARD


Citizens of Tunisia ought to sue Microsoft, which has “blood in its hands”. Watch how they keep this secret from the public which pays for it. When they say fight “crime” they may actually mean fight dissent, too (which from the government’s perspective is often a crime). Tunisia overthrew Ali. Now it needs to overthrow his ally, Microsoft.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    September 5, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Gravatar

    Why does the date appear to be listed as 2016?

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It says “06″.

    Jose_X Reply:

    There is a SEP 06 at the top and 09/22/2016 further down. The second may refer to a future date (rather than be a typo).

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    September 8, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Gravatar

    “WikiLeaks: US diplomats were critical of partnership between Microsoft and Tunisia”
    http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/WikiLeaks-US-diplomats-were-critical-of-partnership-between-Microsoft-and-Tunisia-1337429.html

What Else is New


  1. Patent Extremism: Stacking the Panels, the Surveys, the Hearings, the Debates

    Projection tactics would have the public believe that those who oppose corruption are simply radicals; patent polarity has come to the point where if one isn't a "true believer" in blackmail (patent trolls) or opposes bribery, then one is simply a "fringe" and akin to terrorists



  2. Links 24/6/2019: Linux 5.2 RC6, Skrooge 2.20.0, ZFS vs. OpenZFS

    Links for the day



  3. The EPO Needs a President Who Obeys the Law, Not One Who Obeys Battistelli

    Succession based on nepotism at Europe's second-largest institution served to shown how inherently broken things had become and why cover-up of injustices is nowadays paramount (not fixing the flaws/ills but merely perpetuating them)



  4. With Water (Treatment) Already Patented It Won't Take Long for Patents (and Patent Royalties) on Air

    A 'paper economy' is what Europe turns into if the current trajectory is followed (led by lawyers, not producers)



  5. Bill Gates Said He Was on a “Jihad” Against GNU/Linux, But GNU/Linux Users/Developers Engaged in Self-Defense Are Foul-Mouthed 'Microsoft Haters'?

    Microsoft, which routinely commits very serious crimes, tries to come across as some sort of philanthropy whereas those who share their work with the public (for greater good) are described as erratic, rude and unworthy of respect from corporations (outcasts basically, deprived of income source)



  6. What Patents the EPO Has Just Awarded (With a Special Reward), Not Just Granted

    The EPO's practice of elevating some patents over the other patents (European Patents) is perhaps more of a societal liability than the EPO cares to realise



  7. Required Reading: Mental State of Team Battistelli/Campinos

    On the heels of yesterday's article about Team Battistelli/Campinos, here are some recommended/required papers on the problem which likely plagues the Office



  8. Links 23/6/2019: Wine 4.11, FreeBSD 11.3 RC2

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft Apparently Did a Patrick Durusau on Wim Coekaerts to Broaden Its Control Over GNU/Linux

    Microsoft tactics for defection and takeover of the competition (without coming across as hostile) aren't new tactics; internal documents from Microsoft explain how to achieve this



  10. EPO Directors Would be Wise to Rebel Against Team Campinos While They Still Have the Job

    As the EPO continues its bold journey towards dictatorship (where presidencies are passed between friends and ‘circles’ are former colleagues or close confidants) Techrights urges those who have power to speak out — e.g. EPO judges and Directors — to do something before it’s too late



  11. American Front Group Open Invention Network (Riding the Linux Brand) is a Proponent of Software Patents in Europe

    The impact of American multinationals in Europe is difficult to deny; in fact, we're observing the same old lobbying/lobbies still working hard albeit more covertly (typically using front groups)



  12. Say 'Hey Hi' to Software Patents

    Using the “AI” (“HEY HI”) hype the ‘community’ of patent maximalists hopes that every little (and possibly very old) algorithm will suddenly sound amazing and innovative — to the point where it becomes unthinkable to deny a patent monopoly on it



  13. A Personal Note From Ted MacReilly (How Microsoft Works Against GNU/Linux)

    A tongue-in-cheek write-up highlighting the ways Microsoft insiders think and how they strategise against GNU/Linux and Free/libre software



  14. The Linux Foundation's New Vice Chair, Wim Coekaerts, Worked for Microsoft

    The Linux Foundation is boosting the Microsoft boosters and calls that "community"



  15. Links 21/6/2019: GNOME 3.33.3, 32-Bit Support Further Neglected, DragonFlyBSD 5.6.1 Released

    Links for the day



  16. Leaked: Harassment of EPO Directors by Team Campinos

    “New BIT organisation and staff changes,” a novel kind of newspeak, means that Directors are being severely punished without due process at all (“hidden disciplinary measure without disciplinary proceedings”)



  17. Patent Professionals in Europe Have Devolved Into a Marketing Industry

    Lies, buzzwords and hype waves is all that the patent bubble in Europe boils down to these days; loads of bogus patents get granted only for European judges to smack these down (if one can afford the court battle)



  18. Almost Six Months After Iancu Said He Would Make Software Patents Great Again Nothing Has Actually Changed

    We're just a fortnight away from the ludicrous plan of Iancu celebrating 6 months (without accomplishing anything)



  19. Links 20/6/2019: Kubernetes 1.15, Alpine 3.10.0 and Librem 5 June Software Update

    Links for the day



  20. Ignore the EPO's Dumb Festival and Focus on the Abuses Against the Workforce and Its Quality of Work

    Don’t lose sight of the appalling behaviour of the management of the EPO; the last thing it wants is press coverage about its gross abuses and corruption — an aspect it spent literally millions of euros to bury (gaming the news cycle)



  21. Microsoft Attempting to Destroy the Careers of Its Critics, Including Free Software Proponents

    Microsoft isn't changing and has not changed; the tactics described above are still being used, even by its "Open Source" (or "Open at Microsoft") people, who did this to me



  22. Links 19/6/2019: Linux Mint Vs Vista 10, Qt 5.13 Released

    Links for the day



  23. The Linux Foundation's Business Model

    The Linux Foundation's plan, illustrated



  24. Links 18/6/2019: i386 Abandoned by Canonical and a New osquery 'Community'

    Links for the day



  25. Indifference or Even Hostility Towards Patent Quality Results in Grave Injustice

    The patent extravaganza in Europe harms small businesses the most (they complain about it), but administrative staff at patent offices only cares about the views of prolific applicants rather than the interests of citizens in respective countries



  26. Links 18/6/2019: CentOS 8 Coming Soon, DragonFly BSD 5.6 Released

    Links for the day



  27. 'AI Taskforce' is Actually a Taskforce for Software Patents

    The mainstream media has been calling just about everything "HEY HI!" (AI), but what it typically refers to is a family of old algorithms being applied in possibly new areas; patent maximalists in eastern Asia and the West hope that this mainstream media's obsession can be leveraged to justify new kinds of patents on code



  28. Patent Maximalism is Dead in the United States

    Last-ditch efforts, or a desperate final attempt to water down 35 U.S.C. § 101, isn't succeeding; stacked panels are seen for what they really are and 35 U.S.C. § 101 isn't expected to change



  29. Links 18/6/2019: Linux 5.2 RC5 and OpenMandriva Lx 4

    Links for the day



  30. Weaponising Russophobia Against One's Critics

    Response to smears and various whispering campaigns whose sole purpose is to deplete the support base for particular causes and people; these sorts of things have gotten out of control in recent years


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