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03.05.13

Financial Penalties Won’t Undo the Crimes (Microsoft Antitrust)

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UEFI

Summary: Critique of the “too little, too late” action that addresses Microsoft’s abuses against the Web

So Microsoft is engaging in anticompetitive behaviour again. A petition has been set up to protest UEFI restricted boot, but not many people are signing it because of low awareness. Something is clearly not working because Microsoft can do almost anything it wishes without facing consequences, at least not immediately. A better regulatory system is urgently needed; it’s the same in the financial sector.

As part of a story that was mentioned here recently, we wish to mention this summary of 4 sources about Microsoft antitrust:

Unnamed sources are saying that the EU plans to levy fines against Microsoft, perhaps before the end of March. The EU said Microsoft recently failed to comply with a settlement that required it to offer EU consumers a choice of browsers.

Foo Yun Chee with Reuters first broke the story, reporting, “EU competition regulators plan to fine Microsoft Corp before the end of March in a case tied to the U.S. software giant’s antitrust battle in Europe more than a decade ago, three people familiar with the matter said on Thursday…. ‘The Commission is planning to fine Microsoft before the Easter break,’ one of the sources said, adding that it is possible that procedural issues could push back the decision.”

All Things D’s John Paczkowski confirmed the report, writing, “And sources familiar with the matter have confirmed to AllThingsD that this is indeed the case at this time. No word yet on the size of the fine, but given EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia’s public threats over the misstep, penalties could be severe. Whatever they are, sources say the EC will likely announce them sometime in March.”

Generally speaking, purely financial (and belated) penalty is not the answer; they should send people to prison, prevent anticompetitive action when it happens, make remedy by forcing the firing of particular members of staff, etc. A writer in Forbes said, “Microsoft To Be Fined By The EU Again? And The Problem With Governments Being Able To Fine Companies” (no link on purpose).

He said: “Yes, we do need to have some means of stopping companies breaking the law and money seems the best way to do it.”

A more immediate penalty would have worked better. Many people lost their jobs when Microsoft did its crimes. They’ll never get justice.

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7 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    March 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Gravatar

    Here’s a largely symbolic effort:

    http://wh.gov/wHLq

    Remedial actions are always too late, coming after the harm. and usually too little. For anything to have an effect, it has to be proactive or else be really massive. About the only option in either case there at this point is just growing a pair and stop using M$ products, services and technologies. It’s not going to be pain-free. It does mean, in many cases, a clean sweep of staff in some departments if one wants to go after the source. M$ crap doesn’t buy and install itself.

  2. NotZed said,

    March 5, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Gravatar

    When fines are just against a company all it is is another business expense passed onto the customer. Unless it’s really big it will make no difference to a microsoft or intel – already they have outrageous margins from being monopolies and yet people still blow their wads on their junk.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The ‘free’ — as in deregulated — market sure is working. It boosts innovation, doesn’t it? All our products are made overpriced by patents and new competitors (entrants) are not allowed or cannot survive without hijacking government (through lobbyists and campaign funding).

    If corporations own the state or vice versa, then we may have fascism. It’s a tricky problem to get around or completely resolve. I suggested making the penalties and remedies more immediate; that’s what I came up with given that letting governments run companies (like many arms factories) is not a great idea, shows history.

    A good start would be to increase or actually *apply* tax law to large corporations and their owners; austerity is largely caused by their parasitic tax-free existence for decades.

  3. kozmcrae said,

    March 5, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Gravatar

    I used the link you provided to login and sign the petition. Just out of curiosity I checked to see if I could find the petition without the link. No go. It doesn’t show up on any search and it doesn’t show up on the 169 active petitions. If you don’t have a link to find it you’re out of luck. You won’t be able to sign it. By the way, it only needs 52 more signatures and it’s only been four days. That’s quite remarkable.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    Yeah, it’s hidden. Unfortunately you have the numbers flipped, it needs over 99,000 signatures to get anywhere. Sadly, too many people are jaded and cynical about both M$, the Department of Justice, and the Obama administration as a whole. That mean that few even try the petition. Even if it is only a symbolic effort, it is something that people need to try.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Every petition starts off with a few; we’ve begun spreading the link in some social networks.

    The FSF has a popular petition against UEFI (I think over 30,000 people signed it).

  4. kozmcrae said,

    March 7, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Gravatar

    Ouch! I guess I saw what I wanted to see.

    I checked again and I still couldn’t find the petition without the link. I’ll try to spread it around but it needs to pick up steam fast if it’s going to get 100,000 signatures by March 31st.

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