Cablegate: Venezuela’s Move to Free/Open Source Software “Expected to Reduce the Demand for U.S. Software Products”

Posted in America, Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 7:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: US cables show the attitude towards Venezuela’s adoption of freedom-respecting software

AS we showed earlier this year, US diplomats and Microsoft fight GNU/Linux in Venezuela and according to the following Cablegate cable, they also try to paint the move with the ‘piracy’ brush. “In an effort to move away from proprietary software products, the Government of Venezuela in 2004 introduced a law mandating the use of open-source software in government and public institutions,” says one cable. But it continues: “This is expected to reduce the demand for U.S. software products somewhat, though much software currently in use is unlicensed or pirated.”

Microsoft never seemed to mind this. Gates and other Microsoft executives openly admitted that this so-called ‘piracy’ was beneficial to Microsoft. Let us carry on with ¶29 of the same cable that says: “Unfortunately, pirated software, music and movies remain readily available throughout the country. In the 2003 Annual Review, Venezuela remained on USTR’s Special 301 Watch List.”

We are going to write more about this in the next post. Basically, open source gets mentioned in most such cables and it is lumped in with all sorts of unrelated issue that have it painted as “piracy” and illegalities.

The Cablegate cable is as follows:

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Cablegate: Brazil and Ghana Want Free/Open Source Added in World Summit on the Information Society, US and Australia Oppose

Posted in Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A United Nations cable shows the difference between developing countries (oppressed countries) and ruling nations, which obviously get their way

According to the following United Nations-related Cablegate cable, there is truly a struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed, just as we saw in OOXML corruptions, ACTA debates, etc.

Here is the relevant part:

Open Source

¶14. Paragraphs on open source software (OSS) remain open. Brazil proposed the addition of the original “Rio Commitment,” reflecting Brazil’s (and GRULAC’s) promotion of open source software (OSS) over proprietary software products. Ghana, speaking for the African Group, also supported this proposal. The U.S. opposed the addition in that it lacked the requisite technology neutrality previously recognized in the Geneva Declaration of Principles and has proposed technologically neutral language with which Brazil, GRULAC, and Ghana have indicated they could agree. The U.S. resisted Brazil’s attempts to move the technologically neutral language within the paragraph, which would have resulted in promotion of OSS over proprietary software. It appears that all parties are willing to agree to the U.S.’ original suggested placement of the language. Brazil also had communicated its desire to eliminate all other references to OSS anywhere in the final document, in favor of the one reference to OSS in the PoliticalChapeau. This possibility remains an open issue, however, as other references to OSS already were the subject of working group drafts. Drafting group participants have not completed work on all the paragraphs concerned. Australia favored dropping Brazil’s proposal altogether, with which the U.S. would agree. Ghana has indicated to the U.S., however, that it needs this provision on OSS in the Political Chapeau to support its development agenda.

To clarify the obvious, they confuse vendor-neutral with neutral. Open Source is not a company or a product, it is a licensing and development paradigm that helps respect nation’s autonomy and self determination. The word “neural” — like “choice” — is often used by Microsoft and its front groups to mean “not open source”.

Here is the Cablegate cable in full:

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Cablegate: BSA Smears Sri Lanka’s Government for Moving to Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 2:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: US diplomatic cables from Sri Lanka reveal interesting stories about the small country’s flirtations with freedom-respecting software

According to the following Cablegate cables (first one in ¶7): “During a March 22 meeting with members of the American Chamber of Commerce, DAS Patterson outlined USG views on regional developments of the past two years and asked for insights into the current domestic political situation and business climate. IBM Managing Director and former Amcham President, Kavan Ratnayaka described IBM efforts to support open source software development, noting that Sri Lanka has become an internationally recognized “brand” in the open source community.”

IBM is right because here in Techrights we accumulated many examples of Free software in Sri Lanka. But just like in Thailand, there is a fight back from Microsoft proxies. Let us remember that “[w]hen the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami seriously damaged the coastline of Sri Lanka, Virtusa funded salaries and benefits for its employees as they developed open-source software for disaster relief management. It continues to fund its employees as they travel to disaster-affected countries and assist in implementing the software program.” (see cables below)

The BSA (Business Software Alliance) is not happy with the country’s embrace of Free software. Here is what the BSA says according to cables: “While we see this as a step in the right direction, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) is not fully satisfied with the policy and accuses the government of “more funny business.””

So when a country seeks digital independence, that is “funny business” in the eyes of the BSA. Good to know. Perhaps the BSA does not speak for FOSS like it claims to. Here are three Cablegate cables from which we extract the evidence:

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Cablegate: Microsoft’s Friends at Frost and Sullivan Bash South Africa’s Migration to Free Software

Posted in Africa, Cablegate at 1:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: More cables from South Africa and new information that they provide

Frost and Sullivan, a familiar source of anti-FOSS, pro-Microsoft FUD, brings back memories of South Africa's interesting podcast where experts claimed that Microsoft buddies did a lot of work to derail the government’s migration to Free software. According to the following Cablegate cable, the FUD from Frost and Sullivan is bordering the ridiculous. To them, Internet speed if an impediment of Free software development. What utter crock. From the Cablegate cable: “High cost of internet access is stifling South Africa’s software development industry and thwarting the SAG’s open source procurement policy and commitment to use locally developed software. According to Linda McDonald, an analyst for Frost and Sullivan, the SAG’s plan to save million of rands yearly by cutting out annual software license fees, boost local skills and create more jobs as developers are hired to modify open source software to suit the government’s needs, is a false hope unless the cost of Internet access drops. Unless developers can spend numerous hours in online discussions at an affordable rate, they will not be able to create the necessary programs for the SAG’s software. (Business Day, September 25, 2007)”

What utter nonsense. So accessing forums is the impediment for Free software implementation and the primary cost constraint? This sounds so made up that one might consider it a hoax. A sceptic might ask, how can we know she was not sincere? Well, there is an implicit suggestion there that Free software needs a lot of querying (as though proprietary software needs none), that online forums/E-mail are bandwidth intensive, and that the country is not talented enough for the task (Microsoft used the same insulting talking points and it backfired). So if Linda McDonald was honest, she should probably be fired. But we gave examples of some other Microsoft proxies (like Computing Technology Industry Association) that did similar things to have South Africa abandon its ODF and FOSS plans. It’s like a cult assault. Here is another cable from the same nation. From ¶3: “One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a nonprofit initiative launched by MIT Media Labs’ Nicholas Negroponte to donate low-cost and rugged notebook computers to poor children of the third world. (For details see http://laptop.org and http://wiki.laptop.org.) The resulting “XO” machine is designed for kids: smaller and lighter than regular PCs, with a waterproof keyboard sized to small fingers, and a carrying handle. Its bright colors prompt comparison to Fischer- Price toys. The XO’s screen resolution is sharp, however, and it comes loaded with an open-source operating system and software ranging from a web browser to e-book reader and puzzle games, as well as applications for word processing, drawing, and composing music. A built-in video camera and wireless modem enable video chat with other users.”

Here is another interesting cable from South Africa. The two newer ones (to us) are:

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Cablegate: Peru’s Migration to Free/Open Source Software

Posted in America, Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 1:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: 3 cables from Peru where Free/open source gets mentioned, especially in relation to government policy

TECHRIGHTS has a dear contributor called Eduardo Landaveri, to whom the following Cablegate cables would probably provide insight that is needed for understanding of his home country’s policy regarding software. The first cable says that “[i]n 2003, the GOP[Government of Peru] passed a decree mandating that all government agencies use legally procured open-source software. GOP agencies had until March 31, 2005 to erase all pirated software and install the legitimate versions”; the second one is similar but newer and the third one is a bit gross because Intel is nominated for a goodwill award for merely attacking its competition and trying to make a profit at the expense of poor people in Peru. Intel is a viciously anticompetitive company.

The three cables follow.

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Cablegate: Lithuania ‘Watched’ for Not Accepting Monopoly/’IP’ Regime From West, Government Adoption of Free Software Noted

Posted in Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 12:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: What a cable about lobbying in Lithuania reveals about Free/open source software

IN Lithuania, the “USE OF GOVERNMENT SOFTWARE” saw some changes not too long ago. According to the following Cablegate cable,”[a] A Government Information Society Development Committee is considering a draft resolution which will recommend that government institutions use open source computer software programs. The GOL does not have a timeframe for the resolution’s adoption, but intends to allocate funds to support training to familiarize agencies with the new software.”

This is not he first time we write about Lithuania, but sometimes we do. The relevance of this cable is that it shows yet another example where blacklists or shame lists are used to oppress and subjugate countries that are sceptical of patent/copyright regimes. We gave many such examples before, e.g. in Turkey. Here is the entire cable:

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Cablegate: UNESCO Was Pro-Free Software Before Gates and Microsoft Intervention

Posted in Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Interesting cable from Tripoli and its items regarding software

According to the following Cablegate cable from the US embassy at Tripoli, “UNESCO Reinforces Capacities of Public Administrations through the Use of Free Software: The Arab Federation of Technical Education, the UNESCO Office in Rabat, and ISESCO, in cooperation with the Libyan Ministry of the Labor and Training, organized a workshop at the Higher Institute of Computer Technology in Tripoli, Libya. The workshop aimed to reinforce capacities of public administrations through Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). During the three-day workshop, experts from the Maghreb countries presented best practices in using FOSS in their respective countries. This enabled participants to reinforce the capacities of universities in the field of technical education through the use of FOSS, and to develop tools in order to make public services more transparent. [UNESCO, 12/19/2008]“

We also wrote about UNESCO one day ago, in relation to what Microsoft was doing there to derail Free software preference. Here is today’s cable

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Cablegate: Iraq Rebuilt With Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Folks from MIT (home of the FSF/GNU) were said to be using “open-source software” for an “Intranet [that] would rely on radio and satellite data links to avoid dependence on Iraq’s telecom system” and more

“Gatti said MIT plans to set up the system using open-source software,” claims the following Cablegate cable, which speaks about setting up some communication infrastructure for post-invasion Iraq. Here is the full cable:

C O N F I D E N T I A L  ROME 002050 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2014 
TAGS: EAID [Foreign Economic Assistance], EINT [Economic and Commercial Internet], PREL [External Political Relations], IT [Italy], IZ [Iraq], IRAQI FREEDOM 
Classified By: Economic Minister-Counselor Scott Kilner 
for reasons 1.4 (b)(d) 
¶1. (C) Italy's Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MIT) is 
ready to send a team to Baghdad to start work on a Euro 11 
million project to build an Intranet system for the Iraqi 
government.  According to an aide to MIT Minister Lucio 
Stanca, however, the Italian Foreign Ministry will not 
approve the trip because of security concerns.  The completed 
system would link 20-30 Iraqi government departments to each 
other and the Internet using a mix of radio and satellite 
links.  End summary. 
Safety Concerns Delay E-Government Project. 
¶2. (C) Stefano Gatti (protect), Diplomatic Advisor to 
Innovation and Technology Minister Lucio Stanca, recently 
gave Econoff an update of Italy's Euro 10-11 million project 
to provide the Iraqi government with a basic Intranet 
infrastructure.  The MIT has a team ready to go to Baghdad to 
conduct an initial survey of the Iraqi Ministries' 
requirements; but, Gatti explained with some exasperation, 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is delaying approval of 
the trip.  Gatti speculated that the MFA was nervous about 
sending additional Italian officials to Baghdad given the 
unresolved status of three Italian hostages, the death this 
month of an Italian soldier in Nasiriyah, and the 
assassination of Interim Governing Council President Ezzedine 
Salim outside the Green Zone.  In this environment, Gatti 
said, the GOI is reluctant to send more people to Baghdad. 
Gatti said the MIT has pared down the team from eight to four 
people in deference to the MFA's security concerns, but the 
MFA is still withholding approval. 
Need for Iraqi Coordinator 
¶3. (SBU) A second problem the project has encountered, Gatti 
remarked, is finding an Iraqi agency to coordinate with the 
MIT team.  He explained that, since the project involves 
hooking up several Iraqi ministries to a central Intranet 
hub, Italy must find an Iraqi authority capable of overseeing 
such a government-wide project.  Gatti predicted, however, 
that this problem would be overcome once the Ministry has its 
own people on the ground in Baghdad. 
¶4. (SBU) MIT's proposed Euro 10-11 million Iraqi Government 
Intranet project is designed to give the Iraqi government a 
basic system for electronically linking ministries and, 
possibly, municipal and provincial governments.  The initial 
budget covers the cost of a central server bank, connections 
for 20-30 government departments (each with 20 work 
stations), a remote back-up system (possibly located in 
Italy), plus training and technical support.  The Iraqi 
Intranet would rely on radio and satellite data links to 
avoid dependence on Iraq's telecom system.  In addition to 
providing Iraqi officials with basic email and Internet 
connectivity, the Intranet network could also be used for 
telephone service among government departments.  Gatti said 
MIT plans to set up the system using open-source software. 
(Note: A copy of Italy's proposal for the Iraqi Government 
Intranet is available on Rome's Classnet homepage under the 
section "Italy Background Notes."  Please do not distribute 
this document outside the USG.  End note.) 
Start-up Funding Available from MFA and World Bank 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
¶5. (SBU) Gatti said the MFA already has Euro two million 
available to start the project.  The MIT expects to receive 
another Euro two million from the World Bank's Development 
Gateway Foundation, he said.  The MIT, Gatti asserted, is 
ready to start the project even though it has yet to secure 
the full Euro 10-11 million in funding.  Gatti predicted the 
additional money would fall into place once the project got 
underway.  (Note: The GOI is counting this project as part of 
its Euro 200 million Madrid pledge. End note.) 
¶6. (C) The delay in sending the MIT team to Baghdad 
demonstrates how the continuing Italian hostage ordeal and 
recent violence around Nasiriyah is creating government 
nervousness with negative consequences for reconstruction 
work.  However, assuming the security situation stabilizes 
and there are no more high-profile attacks or kidnappings 
that target Italians, we expect that the MIT team will be 
cleared to go to Baghdad in coming weeks. 
Visit Rome's Classified Website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/rome/index.cf m 
        2004ROME02050 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

It is possible that a lot of systems were built with proprietary systems (contractors helping other contractors), but the above is noteworthy nonetheless.

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