Gemini version available ♊︎

Cablegate: Tunisia Chooses GNU/Linux, So Microsoft Says That GNU/Linux Encourages ‘Piracy’

Posted in Africa, Cablegate, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A look at how Microsoft representatives describe GNU/Linux behind the scenes

THE scandal of Microsoft in Tunisia has received a lot of press attention. It now has a detailed Wikipedia page about it. Techrights looked into several other cables from Tunisia and found the following Cablegate cable which says: “Microsoft gave the example of PC procurement, in which the GOT procurement commission does not specify an operating system in their RFPs. This results in the PCs being shipped with the Linux,s open source operating system, which does not support Microsoft software. The Microsoft representative argued that this has encouraged piracy and resulted in GOT PCs using pirated Microsoft software. She continued that the fact that the EU Commission and the African Development Bank accept these GOT procurement laws only encourages the GOT to maintain government procurement on lowest cost basis.”

To Microsoft, “Linux” and “piracy” are interchangeable. Microsoft wants officials to believe that nothing except Windows can ever be used. Here is the cable in its entirety.

DE RUEHTU #1286/01 2640644
P 210644Z SEP 07

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EFIN [Financial and Monetary Affairs], ETRD [Foreign Trade], TS [Tunisia]
REF: A. TUNIS 1249
B. TUNIS 1261
¶1. (SBU) During the September 9-12 visit of an interagency
business delegation (reftels), EEB PDAS Dibble met with
representatives from a cross-section of US businesses
currently operating in Tunisia to discuss the business
climate in general and the issues that impede their
operations. PDAS Dibble gave an overview of the
delegation's meetings with the GOT and the unique nature of
this delegation. She indicated that the primary purpose of
this visit was to push the GOT for improvements in the
investment climate and to discuss the way forward in the
US/Tunisia bilateral economic relationship. Department of
Commerce DAS Holly Vineyard outlined the IPR points that were
presented to GOT representatives from all relevant ministries
attending the delegation's meeting with the Minister of
Development and International Cooperation. USTR Director for
European and Middle Eastern Trade Affairs, Paul Burkhead
outlined the Trade Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and
the USG's objective of an eventual Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
between the United States and Tunisia. US companies said
that Tunisia is a central location for entering other
markets, but bureaucracy and lack of transparency hinder
their expansion. End Summary.
What Tunisia has Going for It
¶2. (SBU) Nearly all of the US business representatives
agreed that Tunisia is an attractive base from which to
target and serve the Mahgreb, European, and Sub-Saharan
African markets. They emphasized that the business climate
is improving and the mobility and quality and talent of
available human resources is above average. Tunisian
employees are highly educated and interested in learning new
technologies. The US IT firms represented opined that
Tunisian interest in new technologies presents an opportunity
to sell and to install the latest technologies. Business
representatives also said that the comparatively favorable
cost of labor also makes Tunisia an attractive venue for
Frustrating Impediments to Trade
¶3. (SBU) While Tunisia has many good qualities, it is the
domestic impediments to operating a business in Tunisia that
have some US businesspeople thinking twice about investing in
or expanding their investment in Tunisia. Issues raised
included a lack of transparency and predictability, lack of
access to the local market, GOT procurement laws, limits on
the number of expatriate employees permitted in country, visa
issues, the slowness and arbitrarily high price of internet
service, and the language barrier.
Transparency and Predictability
¶4. (U) Company representatives explained that GOT
decision-making is extremely slow and there is no central
contact for a company to approach and receive a definitive
answer to their particular concerns. Information on upcoming
projects or tenders is also difficult to obtain and major
projects are often pre-awarded before a tender becomes
public. One US representative stated that the lack of
predictability affected his ability to do long-term business
planning/forecasting. Participants noted that, because US
businesses forecast based on risk, the lack of predictability
in Tunisia makes them more reticent to invest.
--------------------------------------------- -------------
Access to the Local Market & Government Procurement Policy
--------------------------------------------- -------------
¶5. (U) In general, the GOT seldom permits foreign businesses
to compete on the local market but instead encourages FDI in
the off-shore and manufacturing for export sectors. US
companies told PDAS Dibble that establishing a subsidiary
branch in Tunisia is not cost-effective unless they are
allowed to compete on the local market. There are several US
companies who have been authorized to compete on the local
market. They admitted that it was neither easy nor quick to
obtain such permission, but indicated that GOT ministers are
open to hearing about specific proposals. Further, if a
company can demonstrate the benefits of its
projects/products, the relevant ministers can obtain
authorizations to compete on the local market. Several of
the high tech companies said that the product registration
and certification process is extremely long and must be
conducted for each reseller. In order to simplify this
process, they would like to see a homologation law passed
which would authorize registration and certification on a per
product basis.
¶6. (SBU) Companies also complained that the GOT government
procurement law and policy, which is based on lowest price
rather than best quality, excludes them from competing in the
marketplace. A Prime Ministry commission controls
procurement and, instead of requiring that a product meet
certain specifications or technical standards, its requests
for proposals (RFPs) always go for the lowest priced product.
US companies selling quality products cannot compete on a
price basis. Microsoft gave the example of PC procurement,
in which the GOT procurement commission does not specify an
operating system in their RFPs. This results in the PCs
being shipped with the Linux,s open source operating system,
which does not support Microsoft software. The Microsoft
representative argued that this has encouraged piracy and
resulted in GOT PCs using pirated Microsoft software. She
continued that the fact that the EU Commission and the
African Development Bank accept these GOT procurement laws
only encourages the GOT to maintain government procurement on
a lowest cost basis.
Authorized Expatriates
¶7. (SBU) Tunisian law currently allows foreign companies to
obtain visas for only four expatriate employees at any given
time, but companies report that this number can be increased
on a case-by-case basis. (Note: GOT officials had indicated
to EmbOffs last year that the law was going to be updated to
allow 10 expatriates per company, but this has not yet been
implemented. End Note.) This limitation on expatriates is a
problem for US companies particularly when they are initially
starting up their operations in Tunisia. For example,
Parsons Corporation, a major US engineering firm currently
considering investing in Tunisia, said that this restriction
would present a problem. The Parsons representative argued
that his company has a quality product to deliver and an
excellent reputation to maintain. Thus, if it were to invest
in Tunisia, Parsons would need to bring in a minimum of 12
expatriate Parsons engineers per project. The GOT has told
Parsons that the number of expatriates allowed is negotiable,
but the company would prefer that the law be repealed, so
that there would be not uncertainty. Most US companies
present concurred. Similarly, US companies mentioned that
their ability to provide quality services to their clients
was impeded by the difficulty some of their expatriate staff
face in obtaining visas to enter Tunisia on a temporary basis
in order to train Tunisian employees or to provide expertise
on a particular project.
Internet Access
¶8. (U) US companies said that 95 percent of business today
is conducted over the Internet. Thus, reliable and
cost-effective Internet access was paramount to their
success. Most of the companies present at the roundtable
complained about the slow speed of Internet connections in
Tunisia and the high cost of dedicated leased lines between
two points. Another issue related to Internet access was
GOT's encryption requirement that all encryption keys must be
provided to the National Digital Encryption Agency (ANCE).
Providing such information was described as a nonstarter by
US companies providing services where protection of fiscal or
personal data was critical. While most companies indicated
that they could find ways around this requirement, they
nonetheless argued that the encryption key requirement should
be abolished.
¶9. (U) Several participants raised English language
capabilities of the Tunisian work force as an important
factor when considering whether to set up business operations
in Tunisia. Acknowledging that most US company executives
are not multi-lingual and conduct business in English, all
companies said that English language capability was a
necessary element to allow the Tunisian subsidiary management
to effectively communicate with its employees and with its US
headquarters. Several Tunisian nationals representing US
companies noted, however, that the GOT recognizes the
importance of English and has made efforts to address this
issue. They pointed out that Tunisian schools now encourage
English language study from the primary to the university
¶10. (SBU) Although the business roundtable was a late
addition to the economic delegation,s program, it proved to
be an excellent opportunity for all. Members of the
delegation were able to learn first-hand about the benefits
achieved and drawbacks faced by US businesses in Tunisia. At
the same time, US businesses were able to learn about USG
advocacy for an improved business climate in Tunisia. The
general consensus drawn from this discussion seems to be that
despite the shortcomings, US companies investing in Tunisia
have made the right decision. End Comment.
¶11. (SBU) This cable has been cleared by EEB/PDAS Dibble.

Worth noting is the part which says: “Business representatives also said that the comparatively favorable cost of labor also makes Tunisia an attractive venue for investment.”

This is how they value people, eh?

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New

  1. All of Microsoft's Strategic Areas Have Layoffs This Year

    Microsoft’s supposedly strategic/future areas — gaming (trying to debt-load or offload debt to other companies), so-called ‘security’, “clown computing” (Azure), and “Hey Hi” (chaffbots etc.) — have all had layoffs this year; it’s clear that the company is having a serious existential crisis in spite of Trump’s and Biden’s bailouts (a wave of layoffs every month this year) and is just bluffing/stuffing the media with chaffbots cruft (puff pieces/misinformation) to keep shareholders distracted, asking them for patience and faking demand for the chaffbots (whilst laying off Bing staff, too)

  2. Links 28/03/2023: Pitivi 2023.03 is Out, Yet More Microsoft Layoffs (Now in Israel)

    Links for the day

  3. IRC Proceedings: Monday, March 27, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, March 27, 2023

  4. Links 27/03/2023: GnuCash 5.0 and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS on Phones

    Links for the day

  5. Links 27/03/2023: Twitter Source Code Published (But Not Intentionally)

    Links for the day

  6. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, March 26, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, March 26, 2023

  7. Links 26/03/2023: OpenMandriva ROME 23.03, Texinfo 7.0.3, and KBibTeX 0.10.0

    Links for the day

  8. The World Wide Web is a Cesspit of Misinformation. Let's Do Something About It.

    It would be nice to make the Web a safer space for information and accuracy (actual facts) rather than a “Safe Space” for oversensitive companies and powerful people who cannot tolerate criticism; The Web needs to become more like today's Gemini, free of corporate influence and all other forms of covert nuisance

  9. Ryan Farmer: I’m Back After WordPress.com Deleted My Blog Over the Weekend

    Reprinted with permission from Ryan

  10. Civil Liberties Threatened Online and Offline

    A “society of sheeple” (a term used by Richard Stallman last week in his speech) is being “herded” online and offline; the video covers examples both online and offline, the latter being absence of ATMs or lack of properly-functioning ATMs (a growing problem lately, at least where I live)

  11. Techrights Develops Free Software to Separate the Wheat From the Chaff

    In order to separate the wheat from the chaff we’ve been working on simple, modular tools that process news and help curate the Web, basically removing the noise to squeeze out the signal

  12. Links 26/03/2023: MidnightBSD 3.0 and FreeBSD 13.2 RC4

    Links for the day

  13. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, March 25, 2023

    IRC logs for Saturday, March 25, 2023

  14. Links 26/03/2023: More TikTok Bans

    Links for the day

  15. Links 25/03/2023: Gordon Moore (of Moore's Law) is Dead

    Links for the day

  16. Links 25/03/2023: Decade of Docker, Azure Broken Again

    Links for the day

  17. [Meme] Money Deducted in Payslips, But Nothing in Pensions

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has stolen money from staff (in secret)

  18. IRC Proceedings: Friday, March 24, 2023

    IRC Proceedings: Friday, March 24, 2023

  19. The Corporate Media is Not Reporting Large-Scale Microsoft Layoffs (Too Busy With Chaffbot Puff Pieces), Leaks Required to Prove That More Layoffs Are Happening

    Just as we noted days ago, there are yet more Microsoft layoffs, but the mainstream media gets bribed to go “gaga” over vapourware and chaffbots (making chaff like “Bill Gates Says” pieces) instead of reporting actual news about Microsoft

  20. Sirius 'Open Source' Pensiongate: Time to Issue a Warrant of Arrest and Extradite the Fake 'Founder' of Sirius

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ is collapsing, but that does not mean that it can dodge accountability for crimes (e.g. money that it silently stole from its staff since at least 12 years ago)

  21. Links 24/03/2023: Microsoft's Fall on the Web and Many New Videos

    Links for the day

  22. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, March 23, 2023

    IRC logs for Thursday, March 23, 2023

  23. Links 24/03/2023: Social Control Media Bans Advancing

    Links for the day

  24. Links 24/03/2023: GNU Grep 3.10 and Microsoft Accenture in a Freefall

    Links for the day

  25. Links 23/03/2023: RSS Guard 4.3.3 and OpenBSD Webzine

    Links for the day

  26. Experiencing 15 Years of LibrePlanet Celebration Firsthand as a Volunteer: 2023 - Charting the Course

    Article by Marcia K Wilbur

  27. [Meme] Grabinski the Opportunity

    Reports of European Patents being invalidated (judges do not tolerate fake patents) have become so common that a kangaroo court becomes a matter of urgency for the EPO‘s Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos; will the EU and the EPO’s Administrative Council go along with it, helping to cover up more than a decade of profound corruption?

  28. Union Syndicale Fédérale Cautions the EPO's Administrative Council About Initiating an Illegal Kangaroo Court System for Patents (UPC) While EPO Breaks Laws and Sponsors the Ukraine Invasion

    Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) is once again speaking out in support of the staff union of Europe's second-largest institution, which lacks oversight and governance because of profound corruption and regulatory capture

  29. Investigation Underway: Sirius 'Open Source' Embezzled/Stole Money, Robbed Its Own Staff

    In light of new developments and some progress in an investigation of Sirius ‘Open Source’ (for fraud!) we take stock of where things stand

  30. [Meme] Sirius 'Open Source' Pensions: Schemes or Scams? Giving a Bad Name to Open Source...

    What Sirius ‘Open Source’ did to its staff is rightly treated as a criminal matter; we know who the perpetrators are

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts