Bonum Certa Men Certa

How Microsoft 'Bought' Nicolas Sarkozy, France, and Parts of Europe

Further to this previous and recent post about Microsoft using Universities for marketing, we've received more information that will be handy in the future.

Last week we cited a French publication that spoke about Microsoft. Much more of the same sort of stuff was seen before. We became aware that, like Le Temps, Le Monde has a very limited article retention policy. Beyond that, old articles go into the archives which are available only for those who pay for access. It makes such information hard to get hold of.

”There were rumours that Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently became President of France, received support from Microsoft, which makes sense given his liberal market policies.“There's more where that came from (and been interpreted by) one who done this sort of thing in the past -- during the Microsoft anti-trust trial of the 1990s. He contributed some articles to a Web site called "billwatch.net", which was run by a Dutchman named Case Roole. The Web site was devoted to studied criticism of Microsoft.

There were rumours that Nicolas Sarkozy, who recently became President of France, received support from Microsoft, which makes sense given his liberal market policies. Microsoft received some payback when his government recently passed a new law on the "autonomy of the universities". One of the items of this law, which was protested through a strike of many students and professors, is that universities can now set up foundations by which they can receive funding from private sources.

Microsoft wasted no time in taking advantage of this new law. The University of Lyon 1 opened itself to the corporations. We received a translation of the first paragraph along with some quotes from the head of Microsoft France.

In full opposition to the Pécresse law on the autonomy of the universities (the announcement seems to be a thumb of the nose), Microsoft has signed a partnership with the Claude Bernard University at Lyon. The private group will bring 180,000 euros over 3 years, of which a third will finance the funding of study.

"It's very useful for us to see how the teachers and the students use our technologies. That also helps us to understand the graduates and the types that come from the unversity for our recruitment.", explains Eric Le Marois, the education director of Microsoft France.

"We will bring teaching content with IT Academy but the teachers will be free to use it or not. It's the same thing for free software, the university could use them if it wishes", replies Eric Le Marois (no influence but "propositions").


There is more information about this in student-partners.com (the site is down at the moment, with a Microsoft server error). Another separate source got in touch to say this about the previous post:

It's officially not covert, but they do seem to avoid bringing attention to it. Kind of like the surveillance options in Windows, much of it is described right there in the EULA.

It's been going on for a while. I saw the English language announcement a while back (some time in the last 2 years) and now wonder what role these fifthcolumnists have in undermining the infrastructure at some universities


It is also worth noting that the "Microsoft Research INRIA Joint Centre" opened at the beginning of 2007 (INRIA being France's national computational research organisation.) It's understood that this followed an infusion of Microsoft money, but the process of opening this organisation began in 2006 before Sarkozy was elected as president. I've personally known people from INRIA since 2004 (my research peers or colleagues in the field of machine vision).

Our anonymous contributor believes that this is very similar to how things work in the United States (which Sarkozy professes to admire though he doesn't speak good English). Sarkozy apparently already receives some small 'rewards' from a Microsoft executive. A little bit of a recall brings up the following recent article.

"[French President Nicolas] Sarkozy and his family have been vacationing at a lakefront estate in Wolfeboro owned by former Microsoft Corp. executive Michael Appe. The president was previously photographed relaxing dockside in his swim trunks."


Surprisingly perhaps, it's MSNBC with the report. This was actually covered in some other news outlets other than MSNBC, which is, as the name implies still associated with Microsoft, no matter how many attempts are made to deny this after a breakup.

To say more on this, there is no "holy grail" incident which is a reference for direct Microsoft funding of Sarkozy. All one can trivially find are some indirect evidence such as that he took his summer vacation in New Hampshire, USA at the residence of a former Microsoft executive (see above).

A quick search on the Web says more about this incident, and beyond it. Now, consider what happened in France when OOXML was discussed:

Apparently, the French discussion on OOXML broke into something resembling a bar-fight.

[...]

Matters soon got out of hand: the shouting seems to have climaxed with the Microsoft representative insulting the management of AFNOR, members of the Defense Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry, and two members from the Industrial Ministry exclaiming that they were servants of a banana republic!


We actually covered this here before. It received little or no media coverage at the time.

Don't forget the recent DMCA law which practically forbids playing DVDs using an open source library that is necessary. It is under Sarkozy's watch that the DAVDSI (French equivalent to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) has been expanded further.

Open source groups asked all of the candidates of the last presidential election about their positions on software patents and free software. All candidates except Sarkozy defended free software. Instead, Sarkozy defends "intellectual property" and the "right" of businesses to control it. Overall, his response was deemed to be quite negative by free software advocates.

Additionally, there is now a regime in place which requires ISPs to report anyone who uses P2P file sharing to a governmental body and to shut them down if their P2P usage is deemed to be "abusive." That appears to be the latest sign of digression. Another riot ensued when laws that are associated with BIOS got introduced.

To show you how these things work, consider this video from last year. It shows Greece's blind agreement with Bill Gates. The consultation and agreement seems like a personal relationship more than a broadly-accepted decision.



Here is the video's description:

This video presents the signing of an agreement between the Greek Government and the Microsoft Corporation in the context of the Digital Strategy 2006-2013 for Greece. It includes statements of the Greek Minister of Economy and Finance G. Alogoskoufis and the Chairman of Microsoft Corporation Bill Gates (Lisbon, February 1, 2006).


There are many more examples (just appended below to maintain brevity). When the Danish authorities get invited to Bill Gates' house (amid movements towards open source and open standards) , that ought to mean something. Mind also the following:

Gates blackmailed Danish gv’ment



Microsoft boss Bill Gates threatened to kill 800 Danish jobs if Denmark opposed the European Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, reports today's Danish financial daily Børsen, quoted by NoSoftwarePatents.com.


Many more examples are appended below, with plenty available upon demand. Their purpose is to demonstrate the seriousness of the issue at hand.

Recently in this Web site (reverse chronological):



Other older articles of interest:



It now appears that Lehne works as a Brussels lobbying consultant for multinational corporations who are the main clients of one of the leading lawfirms for patent litigation in Europe, which is also itself involved in patent lobbying and closely connected to lobbying organisations.




Lately, many signs exist showing how Microsoft's monopoly power extends to government and media. We can add a new example to this list: The "Vienna conclusions". It seems, their power even extends to distorting findings in official UN documents. The story contains all usual elements: Sponsorship, not willing to participate in public discussions, a conflict of interest of one of the members of the committee, and a Microsoft PR worker making a ridiculous statement. After that, of course, Microsoft denied most of it and ignored the rest.




A suspected manipulation of a consultation on the future patent system of the European Union led to the EU Commission being nominated for the less-than-prestigious award -- which the Commission promptly went on to win in the category "Worst Privileged Access."




leaked letter to the European Commission has revealed the extent of lobbying by proprietary software groups to prevent the widespread adoption of open-source software.

Sent in response to a recent report on the role of open-source software in the European economy, Microsoft-funded pressure group, the Initiative for Software Choice (ISC) warned of potentially dire effects if too much encouragement was given to open source software development.




The study, commissioned by the European Commission, Directorate General Enterprise and Industry, is but a small part of the larger FLOSSPOLS project that aims to keep the EU a leader in global development of open source software.

[...]

Now, the ISC is widely regarded as a shill for Microsoft, although the member list also includes companies like Intel, Autodesk, and RSA Security (now an EMC subsidiary). The 300-strong member list is mostly padded with lesser lights such as Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi (Turkey), ThreeSixtyDegreez (Pakistan), and Datoprogrammu Apgads (Latvia). The institute pushes hard for the right to patent software, alongside regular bashings of open source businesses.




A European Commission official originally chosen to lead its antitrust case against Microsoft left on Friday last week to work for a consultancy that has the software firm as a client, a spokesman said.




Before C. Boyden Gray was named as George Bush's number one person in Europe, he was a lawyer lobbying on behalf of Microsoft.


A similar report on China and Asia is on its way as well.

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