09.16.10

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Microsoft ‘Pulls a Russia’ in Brazil

Posted in America, Asia, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brazilian flag

Summary: Microsoft Latin America takes additional steps to crack down on adoption of GNU/Linux in the region (e.g. in all Brazilian schools), using old FUD and indoctrination/brainwashing of journalists

A FEW days ago we shared transcripts of an audiocast explaining how Microsoft overcomes Free software policies in Brazil. We also have this wiki page about Microsoft’s dirty dealings in Brazil.

“Microsoft criticizes Brazilian government’s position about free software” teaches us this new page which highlights new FUD and contains responses in there:

Microsoft criticizes Brazilian government’s position about free software

The president of Microsoft Latin America, Hernán Rincón, sent word to Brazilian government: “innovation software does not happen in the hands of governments but the private sector.”

The statement came after he was questioned about the government’s position of supporting programs with open source like Linux.

In a meeting with journalists from Latin America in Bellevue, Wash., he said this morning: “Governments have to ask: what business is to serve their citizens and develop software? Innovation is at private sector. ”

According to Rincon, free programs require more work and investment from the government to keep them running and updated – which does not happen when companies take care of that for the government.

Brazil is already on Microsoft's hit/hot/heat list/map because of high GNU/Linux adoption over there, and the same goes for Russia (see this discussion and Microsoft table from a very recent post). A few days ago we explained how shameless damage control after the Russia case/blunder actually helps Microsoft stifle GNU/Linux adoption in Russia. OpenBytes called it what it is.

Which I believe shows that this is now an exercise in damage control as Microsoft did not envisage a situation where the story would become so big.

Too little too late Microsoft, these new licenses should have been in place years ago if you really are pro-NGO.

Even Human Rights First slammed Microsoft over it.

Public Knowledge from Washington had this to say:

This week, the New York Times reported that Russian authorities were searching the offices and seizing the computers of public interest non-governmental organizations (NGOs) disfavored by the government, under the guise of enforcing Microsoft copyrights. Microsoft itself seemed to have some role in this enforcement practice as well, with its lawyers in these cases apparently pressing for criminal charges and refusing to pass on to authorities evidence that the software was legitimately purchased.

One of the first things Microsoft said in its defense was that it was required to obey Russian laws when it operates there—certainly true of any company operating overseas. But the unique situation here is that, since the charges against the organizations stem from ostensible infringements of Microsoft’s copyrights, Microsoft holds the ultimate key to preventing these particular abuses of the law.

Now that proprietary software EULAs are upheld in US courts (covered just days ago), it is abundantly clear that no ‘donation’ of proprietary software is worthwhile. It’s a rent and it’s also a lock-in. Jos Poortvliet, the OpenSUSE Community Manager, recommends “another way for Freedom” in Russia:

This past weekend the New York Times ran a story on how the Russian government has used software licensing to squelch dissent protests and prevent environmentalists and other activists from organizing. The article explains how Russian police stop or stymie dissent activities, by seizing the activist’s computers with the excuse that they were using pirated software. With the data obtained from those computers, the activist’s plans become known to the government leading to several arrests.

Though Microsoft has responded by issuing a blanket license for NGOs, reading this article made me think there is another, better way to prevent the police from using this high-tech tactic without the entanglements of licensing. While it won’t stop an authoritarian government from crushing dissenters, using Free and Open Source Software can make it harder for police operating in suppressive regimes to legitimize this type of action.

First, the philosophy of Freedom deeply permeates the men and women in the community who develop Open Source Software and has resulted in many freedom-protecting innovations. Things like GPG encyption and the TOR technology, which make anonymous communication possible for millions of users in countries like China and Iran. Not to mention the fact, that in the open source world we have a strong focus on security and protection from threats like viruses or potential ‘backdoors’ put into commercial software through pressure from governments.

Brazil has understood the importance of freedom (liberty) for quite some time and hopefully its schools will successfully resist Microsoft's Russia-like attacks on GNU/Linux in Brazilian schools. See the posts below for background.

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4 Comments

  1. Agent_Smith said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Gravatar

    The microsoftie comment was out of desperation. Our state bank, Banco do Brasil, is thriving with Linux in its desktops, far more control, reliability, safety(no virus/malwares) and cost effectiveness than any commercial solution. Let them talk. After all, are just empty words. The latest stuxnet malwares show the M$ option is no option at all.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Siemens got hit in a major way.

  2. Agent_Smith said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Gravatar

    Here, a nice article on the microsoftie comments:

    http://bsrsoft.com.br/portal/bsrsoft/bsrsoft-dev-editorial-porque-a-microsoft-erra-ao-continuar-criticando-o-uso-do-software-open-source/

    It translates to english too, via Google Translate, in the text.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    For the sake of those who need an English translation, here’s what Google outputs:

    BSRSoft Dev: Editorial – Why Microsoft is wrong to continue criticizing the use of Open Source software

    In this Tuesday, September 14, 2010 , the president of Microsoft Latin America , Hernán Rincón , criticized the decision by some governments in the region , including and especially Brazil, to encourage – Or even require – the adoption of free software on their public services and educational systems.

    Commented: “With all due respect to Brazil, but what should be the role of government ? Software development or improve the lives of people? ”

    Made several mistakes, apparently intentionally, because there it is the CEO of Microsoft in the region that predictably defends the business model of the software closed.

    Committed error when it linked the use of free software by the Brazilian government to a hypothetical need for internal software development .

    Forgot purposeful way , that free software , ready, is freely available out there. In most cases, no further development is needed.

    Much of what is done simply , is to choose the necessary software ( free) and if no internal staff of the public service authorized to install and maintain it, to hire a specialized company to provide the necessary support. Only in this case does not come to Microsoft because up until today this does not provide support for free software.

    And despite all this , software development is still a trivial task for all governments around the world . Why this would be an aberration in Brazil ?

    The Brazilian government prefers , and often requires the presentation of free software in their bids for various reasons, including:

    * Many Brazilian companies can provide support and free software under development , creating jobs , training manpower in advanced technologies and creating leading-edge technology ;
    * Chance of impartial and complete audit of what strategic sectors of government are running on their computers , preventing eavesdropping via back-doors in the programs, for example;
    * Technological independence and independence of the supplier;
    * Ensuring interoperability between different systems that use open protocols ;

    Are good reasons for any government in the world prefer open source and free.

    The NSA ( National Security Agency U.S. that specializes in electronic eavesdropping ) runs Linux on internal workstations to have access to the code of every program they use.

    The DoD (Department of Defense ) follows similar line .

    The government of France for the same reasons and also in Brazil.

    Apparently Microsoft has been attacking the Brazilian initiative pro open source , since Brazil makes up 45 % of sales are in Latin America , this being the region with the best curve of profitability for the company today.

    Are defending the goose that lays golden eggs. at the expense of spreading disinformation and fear.

    And just in these days that Microsoft has been fanning for everyone to hear , which coexists well with the free software and even ” loves free software. ”

    Words are worth nothing in the wind . What really works are concrete actions.

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