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Microsoft 'Pulls a Russia' in Brazil

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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