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06.17.15

Microsoft is Trying to Subsume GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

K. Y. Srinivasan

Summary: Promoting a future of subservience to Microsoft even when it comes to GNU/Linux, Android, and Chromebooks

“Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” (EEE) is alive and well at Microsoft. The word subsume is defined as “to include or place within something larger or more comprehensive,” so it’s a good word by which to describe Microsoft’s treatment of GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, be it in Azure or Cyanogen etc.

Microsoft hired Mr. Srinivasan (above) from Novell to help subsume Linux, the kernel. We are concerned about this latest personality grooming from the Linux Foundation, having noted Srinivasan’s role before [1, 2, 3]. Grooming the Microsoft developers who help Microsoft subsume Linux is not wise. The Linux Foundation presents Srinivasan as “an architect in the Windows Server Division at Microsoft where he focuses on making Linux run well on the Hyper-V hypervisor and Azure cloud environment.” In other words, this man puts GNU/Linux in Microsoft’s hands, managed by proprietary software with back doors. Great, eh? As we wrote last week, it’s an entrapment. Microsoft is trying to do the same thing to Android, putting software that captures users’ voice in it (transmitting it to Microsoft, a notorious privacy violator). Microsoft-friendly authors are right now celebrating the extension of Microsoft’s spying network Skype (with NSA access) to GNU/Linux and Chromebooks. What a terrible thing to be doing.

The stupidest suggestion one can come up with right now is Microsoft buying a GNU/Linux vendor or anything along these lines, but corporate media (Fortune) has Barb Darrow say that it “makes sense for Microsoft to buy hot cloud startup Docker” despite Docker being quite closely tied to GNU/Linux (or UNIX). “Other emerging startups like CoreOS and Mesosphere are also working on capabilities that compete with what Docker’s cooking,” Darrow wrote. “And then there’s the aforementioned Google Kubernetes, which is also open source and free, and also promises similar capabilities. Some analysts have said that the product works better than Docker’s nascent orchestration features.”

Docker already responded to this nonsense, saying that it’s not for sale, but the Microsoft-friendly, Bill Bates-bribed media (yes, he subsidises them) released this puff piece which sells the ‘new Microsoft’ illusion. Microsoft's booster Tim Anderson, in the mean while, contributes to the openwashing of Microsoft using abandoned software.

Microsoft has not changed and it is definitely no friend of GNU/Linux and Free software. The Fortune article (finance-leaning) shows what non-technical writers can do when they don’t actually understand what containers are and how they work (unless it was intentional propaganda). Microsoft buying Docker makes as much sense as Coca Cola buying Nokia or something bizarre like that. Do editors even check what they print? Is this just agenda disguised as an article?

06.14.15

Abandoned Software is Not ‘Open Source’, Especially Software Tied to Proprietary Platforms Like Windows

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Treating ‘Open Source’ like a trash can or a wastebasket

Decay

Summary: Microsoft is hoping to achieve/get some positive karma (the openwashing effect) by putting a Windows tool that has essentially been abandoned (or made obsolete) in the ‘Open Source’ domain

Using “Abandoned Software” (AS) to label Microsoft “Open Source” (OS) isn’t a novel concept. It has been done by Microsoft before, even if the “OS” part too was altogether bogus (look but do not touch).

Microsoft appears to be pulling that card again, labelling Windows Live Writer (yes, remember “Live”? And it’s a Windows-only tool!) “Open Source”. As one site put it: “It is not updated regularly; the last update we ever saw for the device was back in 2012. Microsoft has not updated it since. Although there are users you [sic] are loyal and used the app religiously. Last month the live posts to Google’s Blogger platform stopped and it was then that it became vocal.”

Here is how IDG put it:

Microsoft will breathe life into Windows Live Writer by open sourcing the eight-year-old blog-publishing tool, a company manager said earlier this week.

What next? Making “KIN” and/or “Zune” something open-ish? If that’s the best Microsoft can do, then it is clearly too stubborn to ever leave the proprietary addiction. More openwashing of Microsoft this month is part of a familiar PR recipe…

06.12.15

The World is Already Leaving Microsoft Windows Behind, in Favour of ODF, Free Software, and GNU/Linux (Usually in Turn)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, Standard, Windows at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows too old and long in the tooth

Windows

Summary: The ongoing migration of various governments to Free/libre software contributes to the demise of Microsoft’s monopoly and common carrier

“REPORTS suggest Windows phone users are jumping ship with sales in rapid decline,” said the British media earlier this week (title is “Microsoft has a very big problem”). Linux and Android are certainly still gaining. When one switches completely to GNU/Linux, embrace of OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Free/libre software is often implied. It’s virtually imperative. It’s like the ultimate and most complete switch, whereas embrace of open standards or Free software alone tends to be ‘softer’ or rather restrained, staged, and at times hesitant. There is lobbying against each at varying (depending on perceived risk or severity) levels of granularity.

“Someone inside GE recently told me that GE was quietly dumping Windows for Linux in its lucrative CT scanners business.”Microsoft is in trouble and there is no denying that.

According to British media, Vista 8 continues to be a disaster technically and in some nations, unsurprisingly, GNU/Linux has greater market share than the latest Vista (Windows 8.1). The desktop monopoly too is in jeopardy, especially where governments made it their policy to embrace Free/libre software (Uruguay and Venezuela in this case).

Here in the UK the National Health Service (NHS), longtime prisoner of Microsoft, is putting up resistance and considering Free software in a growing number of operations. Making the huge mistake of putting Microsoft Windows in medical devices or facilities is not forgivable. Someone inside GE recently told me that GE was quietly dumping Windows for Linux in its lucrative CT scanners business. According to this new report, X-ray scanners (causing cancer) are behaving badly because of Windows. To quote: “the device proved an easy target. TrapX’s team was able to use an exploit for a known weakness in the Windows 2000 operating system to establish what TrapX refers to as a “pivot” – or point of control- on their test network from which they could attack other systems. After creating a backdoor into the device, TrapX researchers added a new user to the system and decrypted the local user password. The company was then able to extract the database files that would contain medical information.”

“In due course, having removed the Office barrier/hurdle, HMRC can move to GNU/Linux because Google is purely Web-based.”This can become ground for many lawsuits from patients or families of dead patients. This is the sort of scandal that ought to push all British government departments which still use Windows XP immediately to GNU/Linux. No version of Windows is secure; the underlying encryption (proprietary) tends to have back doors. Every piece of proprietary software must be assumed insecure until proven otherwise (by becoming Free software and standards-compliant). There are moves in this direction, namely of standards, in Sweden [1] and in Holland [2,3], with calls growing for the NHS to embrace openness [4]. There is an increasing push towards Free/libre software, not just open standards (which relate to one another). The governments in Europe should move to Free software like LibreOffice, where interoperability becomes trivial, to borrow Andy Updegrove’s latest arguments [5], but alas, as we noted the other day (alluding to the UK, Sweden, and India), HMRC is moving from one proprietary office suite to another. Here is the ‘damage control’ from Microsoft, which is trying to avoid the impression of being dumped. To quote the British press, “MICROSOFT HAS HIT BACK at claims that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has dumped the firm in favour of Google’s cloud apps.

“The move, first reported at The Register, will see 70,000 HMRC employees switching from Microsoft’s productivity offering to Google’s cloud-based apps services.”

Google will emphasise ODF support (open standards), but it is not Free/libre software. In due course, having removed the Office barrier/hurdle, HMRC can move to GNU/Linux because Google is purely Web-based. HMRC’s footsteps are likely to be followed by other British government departments (owing to ODF as a national requirement for editable document), taking away some of Microsoft’s most lucrative contracts (British government) and showing other governments across the world that they too can dump Microsoft and proprietary software, not just Windows. Office is the cash cow, Windows is the common carrier. The demise of one leads to the demise of the other.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Sweden refines specifications of open standards

    Sweden’s governmental procurement specialists at Statens inköpscentral are fine-tuning the list of ICT standards that public authorities may use as mandatory requirements when procuring software and ICT services. The procurement agency is working with standardisation specialists at the University of Skövde, to check which ICT standards are truly open.

  2. Dutch MP wants sanctions to enforce open standards

    Public administrations that continue to ignore the policy to implement open standards in their ICT solutions should be fined, says Dutch MP Astrid Oosenbrug. “Public administrations should come to grips with open data, open standards and open source. With all their talk about regaining the trust of their citizens and creating a participatory society, public administrations should take a cue from open source communities.”

  3. Dutch government agency switches core services to open source

    Public administrations that switch to open source regain financial scalability, says Jan-Taeke Schuilenga, IT architect at DUO, the Dutch government agency managing the financing of the country’s educational institutions. “We had reached the limit of proprietary licence possibilities. Switching to open source gave us freedom of choice.”

  4. Open data could save the NHS hundreds of millions, says top UK scientist

    The UK government must open up and highlight the power of more basic data sets to improve patient care in the NHS and save hundreds of millions of pounds a year, Nigel Shadbolt, chairman of the Open Data Institute (ODI) has urged.

  5. Licensing Standards that Include Code: Heads or Tails?

    Once upon a time, standards were standards and open source software was open source software (OSS), and the only thing people worried about was whether the copyright and patent rules relating to the standards would prevent them from being implemented in OSS. Actually, that was complicated enough, but it seems simple in comparison now that OSS is being included in the standards themselves. Now what?

    If this sounds unusual and exotic, it isn’t. In fact, code has been creeping into standards for years, often without the keepers of the intellectual property rights (IPR) Policies governing the standards even being aware of it.

The Disturbing Rise of Openwashing: Today’s Case of Apple and Microsoft

Posted in Apple, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Proprietary is not “Open Source”, it’s the very opposite of it

Watercolour

Summary: Apple and Microsoft are trying to change their colours (public perception), but underneath this thin cover the same old spots remain

NON-TECHNICAL FOLKS may easily be led into the illusion of ‘open’ Microsoft and ‘open’ Apple (openwashing), much like that of ‘green’ (and yellow) BP or ‘green’ Shell (greenwashing). There is also whitewashing, e.g. of Bill Gates, but these two examples are different matters. They all involve mass deception with a huge budget. it’s quite a theatre!

We have patiently watched hundreds of headlines about Apple. Some talking points were mentioned even in Linux sites/blogs of Swapnil Bhartiya [1, 2], not just a lot of general news sites [1, 2, 3]. Bloomberg went as far as saying that Apple has gone “open source” (that was the headline!), so we decided a rebuttal was needed. It reminded us of what Microsoft had done with .NET last year, re-announcing the news almost every week, even this week (using the term “Open Source .NET”, despite the fine prints that refute it; we wrote numerous articles to rebut that).

Bloomberg went as far as saying that Apple has gone “open source” (that was the headline!), so we decided a rebuttal was needed.”Here is ECT’s coverage of the Apple PR (there are literally hundreds more like it), complemented even by this tacit endorsement from Jim Zemlin [1, 2]. He claims “Developer Applause”. “It’s inspiring to see companies like Apple and Microsoft validate the work we’ve been doing for more than two decades,” Zemlin writes. “Applause” is the bizarre word here; it was also used by Sam Dean, speaking ‘on behalf’ of what he calls “Open Source” (some recent Web-centric poll, involving only about 100 subjects, also tried to paint Apple users/developers “Open Source” developers because they work on Web sites using Macs). We reject these claims based on observations and we are going to show some real responses from the real “Open Source” community, not some Apple fans who label themselves “Open Source” and label Apple likewise (often citing Apple marketing material/sites).

Digital Trends asked, “what’s in it for Apple?”

That’s a good question and it’s not hard to answer. In the “Open Source” community not everyone is enthusiastic at all, except perhaps Apple fans and people who buy stuff from Apple (including software) while wishing to label themselves “open”. It’s a branding exercise, putting aside API lock-in.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols asked (in his headline), “Just how open will Apple allow Swift to be?”

“Some people love that Apple is open sourcing its Swift programming languages,” he wrote. “Others are taking a wait-and-see attitude about just how ‘open’ Apple will make Swift.”

Simon Phipps, the outgoing OSI President (i.e. top authority for the “Open Source” brand), wrote that “questions loom over ‘open source’ Swift”. “Programming languages alone don’t make programs,” he wrote, but “the SDKs they leverage are the key. When Apple speaks of the SDKs that work well with Swift, it is highly unlikely it is talking about anything that works seamlessly on Android or indeed within any other Linux-based open source platform (not to mention Windows).

“Swift may be offering lip service to open source to pay table stakes with modern developers, but I’m not holding my breath when it comes to extending software freedom to anyone beyond Apple’s walled garden.”

Larry Cafiero, an “Open Source” proponent for many years, wrote: “While there have been no injury reports yet from the multitudes simultaneously jumping on the Swift-as-open-source bandwagon — and no shortage of “Apple to tailor Swift to open source” headlines (can someone hand me an air-sickness bag?) — you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t share the rampant enthusiasm for a couple of reasons.

“To be clear, like Microsoft’s foray into FOSS, Apple’s entry is a small step for FOSS, to paraphrase Neil Armstrong. It is hardly a giant leap for FOSSkind.”

Many others are refuting Apple’s and Microsoft’s recent claims of “embracing” FOSS (for languages or SDKs). These are self-serving moves, intended to make people blobs-dependent (whose blobs? their own!).

Microsoft openwasher Cade Metz weighed in too. Referring to his article, our reader iophk wrote: “One of thousands of articles, but doesn’t this noise obscure the fact that it is still locked in to iOS and OS X? I thought Objective C at least was cross-platform, except for a few libraries.”

Despite these obvious facts, the Linux.com “administrator” (perhaps meaning editor) went with flattery for Apple just earlier today. It also flattered Microsoft for trying to trap GNU/Linux (two bird with one stone), having recently openwashed Vista 10 using the modified (by him/her) headline “Microsoft’s Big Secret Windows 10 Feature is Open Source” (because of the Linux Foundation-connected AllSeen Alliance).

We are rather disturbed to see Apple and Microsoft openwashing even in the Linux Foundation’s sites, this latest example referencing a Microsoft puff pieces for Vista 10. They are now attempting to openwash it because of one paragraph that says: “Microsoft announced last November Windows 10 would pack a technology called AllJoyn. An open source framework that encourages devices to be interoperable, AllJoyn was developed by the AllSeen Alliance, a group of more than 150 companies including the likes of Electrolux, Honeywell, LG, and Qualcomm that have banded together to make an open standard for Internet of Things (IoT) devices to speak to each other.”

That’s about as bad as calling Microsoft “open source” because it continues to compile proprietary spyware Skype for GNU/Linux, except GNU/Linux that threatens Microsoft’s desktop monopoly (Chromebooks). As the British media put it the other day, “MICROSOFT is continuing to shun Google’s Chrome OS, opening up its browser-based Skype for Web service to all except those using a Google Chromebook.”

To summarise, don’t fall for the illusion that Microsoft and Apple are somehow ‘embracing’ FOSS; they are trying to exploit the “Open Source” brand to attract people to their proprietary crown jewels. That’s an entirely different thing.

06.09.15

Microsoft’s Government Stranglehold Collapsing: As Expected, British Government Departments (Tax Authorities First) Dump Microsoft, Will Likely Embrace ODF; India and Sweden Likewise

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OpenDocument at 3:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital sovereignty gradually being restored

Flags

Summary: Despite Microsoft blackmail of British politicians, HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) moves to Google’s ODF-supporting office suite, dumping Microsoft’s biggest cash cow and notorious lock-in; India and Sweden too move in a positive direction with more Free software, despite Microsoft lobbying and bullying

THE BEGINNING OF this week has been great. It had lots to offer in terms of good news. It really started with a bang and hopefully it won’t end with a just a mere whimper.

Microsoft is evidently getting desperate in convincing people to sign its horrible deals (because fewer are willing to sign these) and it is losing some very major clients right now, including governments in wealthy and/or large countries. It’s not some home users and a company or two. It’s now a growing trend, including the world’s second population (by size) and the world’s biggest empire ever, in addition to a top GDP/capita economy. There are literally billions of dollars at stake.

Microsoft is still actively trying to derail Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in voting systems in the United States and it often gets away with it because it has plenty of influence in the United States government. Controlling the voting system and bribing political candidates (as it does, even personally) ensures interference in elections and thus government decisions regarding IT procurement. We are still seeing it in this new article from IDG, stating: “Microsoft’s new system not only provides for easy transmission of election results, but it also allows party administrators to view results as they come in and will automatically identify potential problem areas. Election officials can then contact the precinct representative to clear anything up. It also means that tech experts will be lending their security know-how to the process, which is a good sign since the Iowa Democrats’ press release announcing the system included spammy advertisements Friday for discount pharmaceuticals.”

We recently showed how Microsoft interfered not only in voting but was seemingly inserting anti-FOSS provisions into the law, via ‘trade’ agreements. Now our suspicions are further defended, seeing articles like “Revealed Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP”. This shows sick jokes, bribery, government capture, and how corporations (through their lobbyists) are writing the law. “One for Techrights stories,” wrote a reader to us regarding this news from TechDirt, summarising it with “How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The TPP”.

“Watch has a full writeup showing how industry lobbyists influenced the TPP agreement,” he wrote, “to the point that one is even openly celebrating that the USTR version copied his own text word for word.”

Here is the direct quote: “Hi Barbara – John sent through a link to the P4 agreement. I have taken a quick look at the rules of origin. Someone owes USTR a royalty payment – these are our rules. They will need some tweaking but will likely not need major surgery. This is a very pleasant surprise. I will study more closely over the weekend.”’

TechDirt recalled: “Back in 2013, we wrote about a FOIA lawsuit that was filed by William New at IP Watch. After trying to find out more information on the TPP by filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and being told that they were classified as “national security information” (no, seriously), New teamed up with Yale’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic to sue. As part of that lawsuit, the USTR has now released a bunch of internal emails concerning TPP negotiations, and IP Watch has a full writeup showing how industry lobbyists influenced the TPP agreement, to the point that one is even openly celebrating that the USTR version copied his own text word for word.”

“We recently showed how Microsoft interfered not only in voting but was seemingly inserting anti-FOSS provisions into the law, via ‘trade’ agreements.”Here is the original article. “Leaked TPP emails talks about software patentability,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) noted about it.

To quote IP Watch: “While a full range of stakeholders would be affected by the outcome of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement under secret negotiation by the United States and a dozen trading partners, corporate representatives have had a special seat at the negotiating table, as shown by hundreds of pages of confidential emails from the US Trade Representative’s office obtained by Intellectual Property Watch. The emails give a rare and fascinating perspective on how policy is developed in the trade office.

“Years into the negotiation, the TPP is said to be nearing completion and is the subject of a US congressional debate over renewal of fast-track negotiating authority for the president (limiting Congress to a yes or no vote). But the TPP text has never been made available to the public of the countries negotiating it, except through periodic leaks of parts of the text, making these emails timely for the debate.

“Through a US Freedom of Information Act request, Intellectual Property Watch has obtained some 400 pages of email traffic between USTR officials and industry advisors. Most of the content of the emails is redacted (blacked out), but they still give insight into the process.”

“The emails give a rare and fascinating perspective on how policy is developed in the trade office.”
      –IP Watch
This is significant because we recently found out about anti-FOSS parts in these agreements, likely to have been the result of lobbying by Microsoft or the likes of it. If so-called ‘trade’ agreements pass with the anti-FOSS sections and ISDS, then Microsoft can sue ones like the Indian government for choosing FOSS as a matter of policy. There is a lot of Microsoft lobbying in India, objecting specifically to this [1, 2, 3], but how about lobbying around trade agreements? Wouldn’t that be clever? It would demolish FOSS globally in one fell swoop, as long as corruptible politicians remain quiet enough and citizens are therefore too ignorant to prevent the signing of nasty (but secret) agreements.

India’s move to FOSS, or the increasing embrace of FOSS (with a FOSS-leaning procurement policy) was covered by Red Hat’s OpenSource.com the other day, noting: “The Government of India has implemented a remarkable new policy-level change for open source software (OSS) deployment. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has asked that open source software-based applications be included in Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for all new procurements. Note there is not a plan at this time to replace existing proprietary systems with open source software.”

This is still going on while Microsoft fights back viciously. If the aforementioned ‘trade’ agreements pass, Microsoft might even be able to sue the government, not for discrimination but for not obeying so-called ‘trade’ laws (newly-introduced). It’s a back door trick, negotiated behind closed doors.

Here in the UK the government is now in a good position to move to GNU/Linux, despite Microsoft's blackmail of British politicians. Dependence on Windows is already being reduced because, according to this article, “HMRC ditches Microsoft in favour of Google Apps”. To quote some relevant bits:

HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) has become the first major government department to dump Microsoft in favour of Google.

The Register reported that 70,000 HMRC staff will adopt Google’s cloud-based productivity apps over Microsoft’s Office 365 offering, joining 20,000 government employees who already use Google’s Gmail service.

HMRC has since confirmed the move in a statement. A spokesperson said: “HMRC has an ambitious digital future planned. This contract will make it easier for staff to collaborate on internal documents, providing greater flexibility and efficiency while reducing costs.

HM Revenues and Customs (British tax) dumping Microsoft is huge news; blackmailing politicians didn’t work out and one wonder if there are more government offices poised to follow suit. Surely they’ll watch how HMRC gets along. It has become abundantly clear that Microsoft is so scared/worried about FOSS and ODF (also Google) in the UK that it’s willing to blackmail or bribe.

Meanwhile, as revealed by Andy Updegrove, Sweden follows the UK government’s footsteps by choosing standards, including ODF. This is why Microsoft was so scared and then became aggressive over the decision that might later spread to the rest of Europe. One might wonder about Swedish politicians who led to this; will Microsoft blackmail them too?

“While the current list of approved standards in Sweden is short,” wrote Updegrove, “it does (as in the U.K.) include the ISO standard PDF/A-1, for uneditable documents, and OASIS’s ODF 1.2, for editable text. The ODF standard (adopted in an earlier version by ISO in 2004) was the subject of perhaps the most vigorously fought standards war of the last 20 years, raging on a global basis for several years. The contest was sparked by the decision of the Commowealth of Massachusetts to approve ODF, but not Microsoft’s competing XML-based standard, referred to as OOXML. That standard was also adopted by ISO, following Microsoft’s contribution of the original text to another standards body, called ECMA.

“Massachusetts ultimately adopted OOXML as well as ODF after severe lobbying pressure. Since then, the question of whether ODF, OOXML or both meets with the approval of cities, states and nations making such determinations has continued to be a contentious and closely watched matter.

“For this reason, it will be interesting to see whether additional EU countries follow the lead of the U.K. and Sweden.”

Scandinavia as a whole (not just Sweden it seems) is ‘plotting’/’scheming’ (to use negative terms) to embrace standards and dump proprietary blobs. North Europe seems to be eager to emancipate itself from NSA-leaning, Empire-serving blobs. There is a shift to FOSS, fostering local jobs and improving trust (no back doors from across the Atlantic). Open standards, suffice to say, tend to lead to FOSS.

06.06.15

How Microsoft Squashed Free/Open Source Software in Voting Systems in the United States

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Windows at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Insecure-by-design systems a misfit in any democracy

Voter

Summary: Microsoft is interfering with efforts to put Free/Open Source software in voting machines, ensuring that these machines continue to have back doors (Windows)

THE presence of Microsoft lobbyists is global/universal. We recently wrote about how Microsoft had successfully squashed Free/Open Source software-leaning rules in India, just like in Chile last year. Microsoft lobbying was done also by proxy and in the UK we found out that Microsoft was blackmailing British politicians, as recently as weeks ago. Microsoft is just a bully like that. Given its influence in the United States government, we expect much of the same in the US, if not more and worse.

“Microsoft lobbying in this area is a scarcely explored topic.”Microsoft wages war on politics in all sorts of ways, sometimes through lobbyists, sometimes through ‘former’ staff, pseudo ‘charities’ like the Gates Foundation, and pressure groups like the Business Software Alliance.

Today we present information given to us courtesy of the California Association of Voting Officials. They complain about Microsoft lobbyists and they have expressed an interest in aligning for global issues, for they too realise that Microsoft cannot be ignored if society wants fair elections and ultimately pursues voting machinery that can be trusted.

Microsoft lobbying in this area is a scarcely explored topic. There is very little information about it out there, hence we hardly ever covered the topic. It is widely known, however, that voting machines in the US use Windows, which has back doors and therefore can never be trusted, with or without tampering by a human operator. Putting Windows in voting machines gives plenty of leeway for mischief, especially by those with simpler access to the back doors. Consider, for instance, how Korean spies (the KCIA) famously meddled in South Korea’s elections.

At the early stages of research for the article we were trying to see or at least understand the relation Microsoft lobbyists have to voting machines. We have hardly heard of that before. There is a lot to it other than today’s proposed solutions being “open source”, which is probably where Microsoft lobbyists come in. Somehow, despite public will to induce transparency, accountability, audits etc. on the process, decades later we are still so heavily dependent on a proprietary, secretive system (or set thereof). Politics being determined by such a system (secret formula) won’t inspire public confidence. It breeds abuse and corruption and leads to reminiscing of the events in Florida 15 years ago (when George Bush got ‘elected’).

“We put open source language into voting system legislation,” told us someone from the California Association of Voting Officials, “and the Microsoft lobbyists have it removed.

“This must be stopped as OS voting systems are a preferred security environment for vote tabulation… the alternative being Diebold/ Dominion / Microsoft etc.”

We asked for additional information so that we can present it in an article, specifying what they have done and who has done it. Here is what we got:

The head attorneys for President Obama’s election report ( which omitted open source voting system solutions even though the information was gifted to them ) work for firms that lobby and / or represent Microsoft / Bob Bauer of Perkins Coie and Ben Ginsburg of Pattons Boggs /Jones Day

http://electionlawblog.org/?p=50792

Nate Persily was tasked with presenting the President with all information.. but inexplicably failed to include any reference to open source in the report. When asked about this omission – and possible steps to remedy ( addendum etc ) Persily went silent.

No members of the Presidential Committee were responsive..

In California — which is the frontline of the battle for open source voting systems in the USA — the lobbyist for the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials
Barry Brokaw- http://sacramentoadvocates.com/brokaw.html is also the lobbyist for Microsoft . –This may explain why the CACEO has been blocking efforts toward publicly owned General Public License voting system in California

US congressman Rush Holt’s bill 811 https://votingmatters.wordpress.com/from-rep-rush-holts-website-about-hr-811/ had open source included .. but it was mysteriously taken out – apparently at the direction of MS lobbyists and Verified Voting . Verified Voting is headed by David Dill – a Stanford Professor with Silicon Valley / Microsoft ties .. Verified Voting also employs Sarah Grootius Vilms from Patton Boggs as a lobbyist

A few days ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she was filing a lawsuit in Ohio to challenge their voting laws .. but her legal team is again led by attorneys from Perkins Coie — and there was no mention of tabulation or software. We have again contacted them to request their attention to that part of proper election reform

Also a bit more of the story– There is a group called OSET ( Open Source Election Technology ) that is attempting to sell bogus software that is NOT open source as it purports to be.. per the Open Source Initiative standards,, They call it ‘ open Public license “– It is ” open -washing ” and very dangerous — They are trying to sell it to US jurisdictions

Mitch Kapor is the owner of OSET — He previously owned Lotus – KC Brandscomb was Mitch Kapor’s CEO at Lotus — and is married to IDEO’s Kelly IDEO recently received a 15 million dollar sole source contract from Los Angeles County , CA for a design that Alan Dechert and Open Voting Consortium gifted L.A. for free years back ( a ballot printing system.)

KC’s brother Harvie is now heading up efforts toward election reform in Colorado– Colorado is going toward a uniform system . and Harvie would appreciate OSET ” kinda sorta ” OS being used.. especially since Colorado is being heralded as the model by CA

http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1996/06/10/213266/index.htm

This is “all public info,” explained our source, but “attribution should be given to the California Association of Voting Officials — not for the information provided — but rather for our efforts toward open source voting solutions.”

We have meanwhile noticed new efforts to exclude Free/Open Source “In Many Situations” [1], based on Wikileaks’ disclosure of the TISA Agreement (in current form). Forbes has just explained that it is “clearly something that the many lobbyists from the likes of Microsoft will have wanted to see included.” [2]

“Legislative capture via government mandates would be great,” explained our source, “but that is the holy grail and not presently considered achievable in the USA, so this is no shock. Secret agreements are certainly bad though.”

If any of our readers are aware of Microsoft intervention in Free/Open Source voting legislation in any other country, please let us know. It is almost definitely done elsewhere, but finding evidence of it is the hard part. Mirosoft itself has been rigging votes, not just voting systems.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. TISA Agreement Might Outlaw Governments From Mandating Open Source Software In Many Situations

    Now, this is nowhere near complete — it is “bracketed text” which is still being negotiated, and Colombia already opposes the text. Also, some may argue that the second bullet point, which says it only applies to “mass market” software and not “critical infrastructure” software solves some of these issues. Finally, some might argue that this is reasonable if looked at from the standpoint of a commercial provider of proprietary software, who doesn’t want to have to cough up its source code to a government just to win a grant.

    But, if that language stays, it seems likely that any government that ratifies the agreement could not then do something like mandate governments use open source office products. And that should be a choice those governments can make, if they feel that open source software is worth promoting and provides better security, reliability and/or cost effectiveness when compared to proprietary software. That seems tremendously problematic, unless you’re Microsoft.

  2. Leaked Draft Trade Agreement Could Threaten Open Source Deployment

    But another section also caught my eye, and indeed it seems that it could make things very difficult for governments that are prioritizing open source.

    The offending paragraph, proposed by Japan, reads: “No Party may require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition of providing services related to such software in its territory.”

    This is clarified with: “For purposes of this Article, software subject to paragraph 1 is limited to mass-market software, and does not include software used for critical infrastructure.”

    This certainly makes some sort of sense. It means countries can’t require companies based abroad to hand over their source code, and is clearly something that the many lobbyists from the likes of Microsoft will have wanted to see included.

06.04.15

Pretending That Windows is Secure and ‘Open’ Using the ‘Transparency Centre’ Farce

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 10:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Two security researchers have developed a new technique that essentially bypasses all of the memory protection safeguards in the Windows Vista operating system…”

Dennis Fisher, August 7th, 2008

Summary: Microsoft is trying to redefine what Free/Open Source software means and what it takes for security of software to be assured/audited

THE strategy of Microsoft as of late has been combating Free software by changing what it actually means and then pretending to be it. FOSS Force has a good new article about Microsoft’s completely bogus posturing, intended to battle Free software by pretending that Microsoft’s source code is accessible. We are soon going to show (maybe later today) how Microsoft battled Free/Open Source software in voting, essentially using truly misleading lobbying, entryism, and obfuscation ploys.

As FOSS Force put it, “The Transparency Center concept was meant to allay fears that might cause foreign governments to consider options other than Microsoft (read: Linux and FOSS), by granting them unprecedented access to source code.”

In our latest articles about SSH and Microsoft we countered the claim that Microsoft is ever pursing security. It’s not. Security is not the goal. Read the article from FOSS Force for further details.

06.03.15

Microsoft Wants to Remove (or Deprecate) PuTTY From Windows and Replace It With Proprietary Microsoft Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What would Simon Tatham say?

Simon Tatham

Summary: The most prominent NSA partner wants to ‘contribute’ to OpenSSH, one of the thorns in the side of spies all around the world

MICROSOFT has just made this bizarre “Looking Forward” announcement, with no timetable. It’s about OpenSSH.

“I haven’t read the page or even tried to load the link,” told us a reader, “but the URL if legit says a lot of bad if they are now targeting and may corrupt that community. Connecting to or from a Windows machine defeats the purpose of the program.”

PowerShell was recently mentioned in the context of Microsoft's attempt to openwash it, trying to get UNIX/Linux people addicted to it. PowerShell is proprietary software and it is using Microsoft APIs, conventions, etc. No security-conscientious person (especially computer professional) should ever use it.

A very misleading headline from IDG says that making proprietary software devour OpenSSH is “love”. IDG extended this nonsense to several sites which it owns and many people read it there first because of this spamming/repetition/googlebombing [1, 2]. There was later (due to lesser visibility, no spamming) some additional ZDNet‘s coverage from Linux-oriented journalists and some Linux-oriented sites like Softpedia‘s Linux section and Phoronix, which wrote: “In the Windows world it has been traditional to use a program such as PuTTY to remotely manage Unix boxes from Windows clients, but no more.”

“Like porting a hardened steel padlock to a paper bag.”
      –iophk
Well, so it’s more like an unnecessary move then, at the very least because of PuTTY (there are other reasons which we can name another day). What at all is Microsoft contributing here? PuTTY has worked for well over a decade (I first used it around 2001). It was adequately adapted/updated to all versions of Windows as there was market need/demand.

There was pro-Microsoft slant in Microsoft-supportive sites [1, 2] and increasingly (over time) Microsoft-leaning sites such as Slashdot (see coverage) or The Register (see coverage). These used to be pro-FOSS, but that was before Microsoft influence, boosters, money etc. got funneled in.

Our reader iophk, quoting Microsoft Peter as saying that “Microsoft is going to work with {sic} and contribute to {sic} OpenSSH, the de facto standard SSH implementation in the Unix world, to bring its SSH client and server to Windows,” criticises this worrisome move. “Like porting a hardened steel padlock to a paper bag,” to use his analogy. So a platform with back doors can compromise a network which the NSA, based on Snowden’s leak, has not been so successful penetrating (some improvements have been made since there, like deprecation of old ciphers, not deliberately-compromised ciphers like those which Microsoft uses). We have legitimate reasons to be concerned when the first PRISM company and NSA ally (Microsoft) says it wants to ‘contribute’. Even when a company like Red Hat wants to alter SSH we dread it a bit because of Red Hat’s own relationship with its big client, the Department of Defence, as we have explained before [1, 2, 3, 4]. OpenSSH is a BSD project and the licence too is different, not just the philosophy (OpenBSD is exceptionally strict).

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