03.16.10

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Government Should Avoid Proprietary Software and ‘Clouds’

Posted in Apple, BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vivek Kundra

Summary: Reporters wonder if Vivek Kundra (national CIO) can resist the temptation to just hand over government operations to private companies, some of which are abusive and dangerous to sovereignty

THE United States government should ideally deploy Free software, just as it used Drupal and LAMP to redo the official White House Web site. This gives the government full control of the software that it uses, which is crucial. Favouritism to some overpaid people who are hiding behind some company names is not an acceptable practice, especially given that the money comes from taxpayers and the government is often funded by those same companies that it returns favours to (Microsoft funded the Obama campaign for example).

According to this report, “Obama’s $79 Billion Tech Plan May Favor Web Programs”

Watch which companies are being listed:

Microsoft, Google and Amazon.com Inc. are all offering more databases and programs online, allowing customers to curb storage costs. Sharing software and data that way would shrink U.S. storage needs, helping to cut expenses after previous governments spent more than $500 billion on data centers and other technology initiatives in the past decade, Kundra said.

The government is able to employ its own IT staff that will build and maintain systems that are based on Free software. There is no need for a Microsoft or a Google or an Amazon.com. If businesses choose to do trade with them, that’s fine. It’s their choice. But governments are different, they are inherently obliged not to become just an extension of commerce for reasons we won’t go into.

“Steve Ballmer visits the White House a little too much given that he is not a politician (or isn’t supposed to act as one because he was never elected).”As we have already shown, Steve Ballmer visits the White House a little too much [1, 2] given that he is not a politician (or isn’t supposed to act as one because he was never elected). Ballmer and Obama’s CIO may have met at a university recently and Investor Spot now asks: “Will Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft & Obama’s Administration Share A Cloud?”

This would be a total farce if it became true. Likewise, as Apple/Mac developers find out that they are merely being exploited, one person finds it worthwhile to say (in IDG): “It’s time to end government-funded iPhone apps (and curb Apple’s control-freak tendencies)”

Now we’ve got Apple’s Developer License Agreement with terms so controlling that developers must seek prior approval from Apple before even commenting on the license itself. We only know this because the Electronic Frontier Foundation snared a copy from NASA via a Freedom of Information Act request (view PDF on the EFF site. Apparently, federal law still trumps Apple’s corporate attempts at secrecy. At least for now.

NASA also appears to have been intruded by Microsoft boosters [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], who in turn use NASA to block/turn away GNU/Linux and BSD users.

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, 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

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