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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Is Microsoft Paying To Influence UN Standards? 298

Posted by timothy
from the but-that's-unpossible dept.
PizzaFace writes "Microsoft is reported to be spending strategically to influence the United Nations' standards for business data exchange. A UN standards-setting body, UN/CEFACT, and an industry-standards group, OASIS, had developed an open standard format for data interchange, called ebXML. Microsoft hired two people from UN/CEFACT, and a few months later the body decided to stop working on ebXML and instead to work on a Business Collaboration Framework for web services, promoted by Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft then paid for three UN committee members to travel to six countries to promote the BCF."
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Is Microsoft Paying To Influence UN Standards?

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  • by MrRTFM (740877) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:34AM (#8361198) Journal
    I hardly think that this particular article rates as a big deal.

    All technical issues aside, if a damn UN standards-setting body is influenced in their decision by a couple of hotel stays and some plane tickets (which, they would have gotten anyway), then there is no hope for any of us - we might as well accept our clippy enhanced future now.
    Hmmmm... or maybe there is - hell, if could raise $10 grand maybe I could get a new standard which lets me get master control over something. :)

    • by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:00AM (#8361309)
      All technical issues aside, if a damn UN standards-setting body is influenced in their decision by a couple of hotel stays and some plane tickets (which, they would have gotten anyway), then there is no hope for any of us - we might as well accept our clippy enhanced future now.

      Microsoft also hired 2 members of the group. This is a pretty standard corporate tactic. Find someone who you can influence to take an early retirement from their influential position, hire them to come work for Halliburton or the Carlyle Group (thrown in for our liberal conspiracy theorist friends) and then pay them a salary of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to be a consultant. It increases your chances of getting that government contract a hundredfold since the "consultant" is still buddy-buddy with all his old procurement friends at the office. I'm not suprised the corruption has extended to the UN in a similar fashion.

      • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:54AM (#8361969) Homepage
        Over the last few years, it's becoming increasingly common practice for MS to hire insiders to plug MS products and protocols. For example, since Bob Garfield [ojr.org] was hired from NPR, NPR has begun not only rebroadcasting content from MS, but also increasing product mentions on air as well as soft pedaling (MS-only) security and anti-trust issues. Moles have also been hired by MS and then restored to government positions in the U.S., Finland, and Norway, just to name a few.

        I chalk it up to a need to replace old revenue streams before they dry up, or before security and anti-trust penalties take it down for the count, before the company gets a proper audit...

        'Course all that's moot if Joe Sixpack figures out that Windows is not ready for the Internet, but that Linux, BSD and OS X are, plus cost effective and easy to use.

      • Question (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bonch (38532)
        Is it Microsoft who is evil for spending money or the UN for being influenced by it?
  • yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dillusionary (675442) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:35AM (#8361200)
    Yes. They pay to influence the USA standards; don't you think they pay them too?
    • Re:yes (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eldacan (726222)
      What I think is that WE pay to influence USA/EU standards. It's just a bit more perverse, since everytime we buy Windows/Office whatever our payments go to Microsoft instead of USE/EU governments/organizations...
    • UN (Score:3, Insightful)

      by millahtime (710421)
      "...influence the USA standards..."

      The UN isn't just USA but the United Nations made up of well over 100 countries. Much bigger field to influence.
      • Re:UN (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And of course the US always follows what the UN asks it to do...
    • Re:yes, why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nycsubway (79012) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:56AM (#8361569) Homepage
      I worked for an insurance company when it was in the process of merging with a bank in the largest merger in history in the US. The merged company became Citigroup. The only problem with the merger was that there were laws preventing insurance companies from merging with banks.

      As the merger went along, the attitude was that 'were waiting to get the appropriate legislation passed'. It was very matter of fact, that they knew the laws were going to change to allow them to merge... because they changed them!

      Big companies have influence!

  • Surely not! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tomcrick (687765) <tomcrick@gmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:35AM (#8361202) Homepage
    No way, I am flabbergasted that someone would even suggest that Microsoft would do something as underhand as this.

    I for one will stand up and defend...err.....hold on....
  • by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:36AM (#8361206) Homepage Journal
    Did they do anything besides present their technology? What financial incentives did the UN gain from ebXML?
  • If you believe so (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gazbo (517111) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:36AM (#8361211)
    Then don't you think the real heart of the problem is that the standards boards consist of people of such negotiable ethics and opinions?
    • by geoswan (316494)
      Maybe ordinary human beings fill standards boards. Ordinary human beings have great powers of rationalization. Without the benefit of clear standards and some training most ordinary human beings slip into practices that could be categorized as corrupt...

      How does this happen? The opportunity that presents itself doesn't seem like a bribe. It seems like an opportunity that would otherwise go to waste.

      Let me give an example. About a dozen years ago I was the (volunteer) treasurer of a non-profit organ

  • by Zilfondel2 (662431) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:37AM (#8361212)
    They actually do stuff besides sit politicans around a large table and disappear for the next 5 years?

    Yea right!
  • by Enoch Root (57473) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:37AM (#8361213)
    This is not especially surprising, considering the number of large businesses that lobby and otherwise bride their way through government.

    At least Microsoft is not getting their buddies elected or, say, preventing security standards from cutting their operation costs at the detriment of their employees and customers' safety.

    Swinging one way or the other on a data exchange standard seems pretty harmless to me. But I guess this is the 'excuse du jour' for some quality MS-bashing...
    • by mirio (225059) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:56AM (#8361293)
      This is not especially surprising, considering the number of large businesses that lobby and otherwise bride their way through government.

      I know you are probably just writing about the long arm of Microsoft's loot, but it is important to note that the UN is NOT a government entity. It is a forum for governments to sit down and collaborate on various issues. It has no authority (thank God). It doesn't make laws (thanks again, God).
    • by Elvisisdead (450946) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:03AM (#8361321) Homepage Journal
      Agreed that this is not surprising. There are tons of lobbying groups that do this kind of thing every year. One of the bigger trips each year is the "Korea trip" for congressional aides.

      Essentially, the S. Korean chamber of commerce gets together and flies around 20 staffers over for 10 days in 5 star hotels, and all-expenses paid fun. Sure, they tour some factories and hear some presentations, but it's mainly a free vacation. Lots of companies/lobbying gropus do similar trips within the US, as well. Sugar cane growers will take staffers to south Florida. The tobacco lobby takes folks to resorts in NC. The military lets military issues staffers stay on board aircraft carriers, etc.

      In this particular instance, MS is playing by the well-established rules for this type of thing.
  • by rherbert (565206) <slashdot.org@rya ... inus threevowels> on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:37AM (#8361214) Homepage
    Microsoft bad... IBM good... so... confused....
  • by snatchitup (466222) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:37AM (#8361216) Homepage Journal
    Money Can buy!

    Mr. Softy would be an idiot not to pay it off. In fact, it's a know fact, it's the only way to get anything done.

    Take for instance The U.N. Oil For Food Program [scbeacon.com]. Saddam called it: I'll scratch your back... You Save My Butt!

    My wife worked for the U.N. in Africa for 5 years and saw first hand the corruption. TO the point of it being such a joke, that she doesn't even list the experience on her resume. Instead she talks about the odd jobs she performed such as international currier after her UN stint, but while still in Africa.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      International Currier?

      I have experience in multi-continental vindaloo management, as well as korma transfer and naan broking
    • by millahtime (710421) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:57AM (#8361297) Homepage Journal
      Is the UN really much of a controlling body anymore. The more time goes on the more it is shown to be ineffective. Does anyone really listen to them anymore?
      • by kisak (524062) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:53AM (#8361960) Homepage Journal
        Is the UN really much of a controlling body anymore. The more time goes on the more it is shown to be ineffective. Does anyone really listen to them anymore?

        If the UN is so irrelevant and ineffective, why is the Bush administration begging the UN [usatoday.com] to clean up the election mess of the administration in Iraq? It is not like it is much at stake for them, just the re-election chances of chimp.

      • by ZoneGray (168419) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:57AM (#8361992) Homepage
        The UN was NEVER a "controlling body." It's not constituted as a government, it's chartered as a forum for every nation to speak their piece. And that's a good reason to exist. But that's all it is. There are no constitutional protections, for example, to insure fairness of representation, succession, responsibility or accountability. You can't get kicked out of the UN, no matter how bad a sleazeball you are.

        Imagine if Hitler had a seat in Congress, and neither and Congress nor his "constituents" could do anything about it except shake their fists. That's the UN.

        It's a good and useful forum, but it is completely without authority beyond that which member nations voluntarily cede to it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Which is why I've always wondered why the States has such a big problem with them. It's been known for decades that the States has the best Government money can buy
    • International currier: one job that's ALWAYS been outsourced to India. :)
    • by kisak (524062) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:38AM (#8361850) Homepage Journal
      UN is doing a lot of good, but boring work all over the world. Things like bring in food where there is shortage, educating about AIDS, or having conferences where they try to discuss and resolve issues before they become big problems. They are also engaged in hot spots where the UN staff are risking their life everyday (Iraq is the biggest mass murder of UN staff, but each year all over the world UN staff are killed while on duty). This, even though they don't carry arms and try to be neutral. Iraq is a good example of the UN staffs dangers, where they are seen as US lackeys by parts of the Iraq population, while they are despised by the neo-cons and actively undermined by the current US administration. Fought by both sides that they try to help.
      My wife worked for the U.N. in Africa for 5 years and saw first hand the corruption.

      Corruption is a huge problem all over Africa. It is a common phenomena in under-developed nations were business laws are weak. It is even found on a large scale in some very developed countries (France and Italy are good examples, while USA has its fair share). Corruption comes in many disguises, from money under the table, to advanced lawyer set up money schemes.

      Now, what did your "wife" see? And this corruption she saw, was it UN staff taking money illegally? If she has some good example or even proofs of this, I am sure many neo-cons wants to hear about it. The UN is one of the more scrutinized organizations in the world and any proof of misconduct will be used against it.

      You sound like a true astro-turfer to me and I doubt you or your family have worked inside the UN. Remember that the U.N.s Oil for Food program was set up by the USA after the first Gulf war and the UN did the best it could with the rules for the program set down. And it seems to have worked pretty well in the way that Saddam was not able to get new or maintain his old WMD. It was so successful [state.gov] that Saddam spend all his energy trying to undermind the program. Now, show some proof instead of neo-con hate speech that the Oil for food program was a UN and France conspiracy. And please, add some more substance to your FUD about UN in Africa. I am sure your "wife" can give some concrete examples.

  • It's $1 billon. So yes I think this may be true.
  • duh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gTsiros (205624)
    "Is Microsoft Paying To Influence UN Standards?"

    Uh... Yes it does?
    How is this surprising?

    Next /. story headline:

    "microsoft's business malpractices."

    come on...
  • Weird (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bored_SuSE_user (701483) * on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:40AM (#8361227) Homepage Journal
    The article mentions that the work on the Open XML standard was complete and their website shows that this standard will be used in the 'Business Colloboration Model'....so where is the problem?
    The site doesn't mention Windows or Windows-based systems anywhere, nor does it mention Microsoft. With IBM so heavily supporting *nix based systems, I doubt MS can wriggle their way into making the standards supported only on their platform, otherwise it's not really a standard....

    • Re:Weird (Score:5, Informative)

      by santos_douglas (633335) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:31AM (#8361794) Journal
      I took a database class with Dr. William McCarthy [msu.edu] last semester. He was on the standard's setting comittee and actually spent some time in class relaying this whole story to us. Needless to say he confirmed pretty much everything I'm reading here.

      His take seemed to be that this standard was complete in name only, just to have something to show for their efforts. But most of the specialists stopped contributing to it after the MS mess became known.

      He understood Microsoft's desire to influence the standards, but most lobbying is done explicitly. I think they reacted so negatively because they were obviously trying to hide their influence, yet pretend to be having an open and impartial standards setting group.

      Most of the technology people involved were primarily concerned with making the standard open to even the smallest and poorest businesses and countries worldwide, and when they found out about this they just weren't happy at all.

  • by cHALiTO (101461) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [olahcle]> on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:42AM (#8361232) Homepage
    It used to be "Bribing"
    Then it was "lobbying"
    Now it's "Spending Strategically"

    bs
  • Profit! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenBenBen (249969) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:42AM (#8361233)
    Shocker! Big business spends money to try and make more money! And some of the spending is a little grey, ethically and morally speaking!

    Isn't this supposed to be a news site?

    --
    This is not flamebait or trolling (and these are not the droids you seek). This is commentary, done in a sarcastic tone. Posting tiny examples of the prevalence of corporate influence in our world is a waste of time.
  • by Jotaigna (749859) <jotaigna@yahoo.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:44AM (#8361241) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft and senior UN officials reply that the accusation is false, saying that the company's contributions were relatively modest, complied with UN guidelines and did not unduly influence decision-making within the body. .

    Like they ever would say something like "yes we are behaving like corrupt colombian Mobsters". Standars are always a wrestling match between companies trying to impose their technology, who doesnt want everyone to need what you created and know best how to do!.
  • by chrisbtoo (41029) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:44AM (#8361244) Homepage Journal
    ... but the "stop working on ebXML" link seems to suggest that the work was deemed complete, rather than being shitcanned. Also, as the summary says, the BCF stuff is being promoted by both MS and IBM - both of whom are OASIS members.

    /shrug
  • UN Control (Score:4, Interesting)

    by millahtime (710421) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:49AM (#8361263) Homepage Journal
    This may prove to show an even bigger problem with the UN. That it can be bought. M$ has the money to do it too.

    I wonder if there are any provisions or controls over the UN to prevent this.
  • by Mulletproof (513805)
    "Is Microsoft Paying To Influence UN Standards?"

    In case you haven't noticed, the UN is everybodies bitch lately.
  • Lobbyism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:53AM (#8361281) Homepage Journal
    Please enlighten me as to why this is news? This happens every day! It's called lobbying. Is it because it's the mother of all evil megacorps that's doing the lobbying?

    Here's wikipedia's [wikipedia.org] definition of lobyism.
  • by dkode (517172)
    With Microsoft basically failing trying to influence independent countries to not use OSS, it seems that have gone further down to the root of the tree. I imagine their planning is to try to infect from the bottom up, they figure that maybe someday in the future more and more countries will look to the UN for technology advice/guidance and wouldn't it be just peachy for the UN to push MS's products and services?

    Looks like they now have the UN as technology peons as well. surprise surprise
  • it's bad enough... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon (87307)
    when national governments develop "standards for business exchange." After all, they have a legal obligation to do so. However, it's pretty scarry when the UN starts to do it and even worse when a corporation can purchase the votes to make their stuff the standard.
    what really gets to me is that the un would even be dabbling in this sort of thing. next thing they may be off for taxing and that, my friends is the end of the world as we know it and the change is not going to be desireable, believe me you.
  • by Reinout (4282) <reinout@vanrees. o r g> on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:58AM (#8361299) Homepage
    Reading the article (yes, I did :-), it didn't seem so clear-cut to me. In the article, ebxml and bcf are placed in front of eachother as direct competitors.

    From an ebXML Business Process Specification Schema [coverpages.org] announcement and a BCF faq [unbcf.org] I figured that ebxml provides a number of services (like repositories) and a number of high-level xml specifications.

    The first item, services, seems to do some of the same things as soap, uddl, etc, the webservices stuff (1). This seems to be the major area where IBM and MS try to convince people to use their (webservices) solutions instead of the ebxml solutions.

    The second item , the high-level xml specifications, seems to lack a few things that weren't included in ebxml proper, like the "UN/CEFACT Modeling Methodology -- Meta Model". These (or solutions based on it) are now developed separately by the UN under the name of BCF. But this is more of a layer building upon the existing ebxml work.

    So: ebxml's services see some flak from webservices (ibm+ms) and the UN acknowledges that this is a possible alternative implementation. On the other hand, the UN builds upon ebxml by adding the BCF layer, making it more useful.

    At least, that's my guess from the info!

    Reinout

    p.s. 1): for REST-proponents: I like the REST approach more than the SOAP one :-)
  • by theolein (316044) on Monday February 23, 2004 @07:58AM (#8361300) Journal
    I'm known for my rather critical attitude towards the US but if there was a general opinion that MS was buying favour with US politicians then I think it will be a lot worse in the international sphere as the price of a third world ignoramus sitting in some UN committe panel is certainly not higher than that of a corrupt US politician.
    • I'm known for my rather critical attitude towards the US but if there was a general opinion that MS was buying favour with US politicians then I think it will be a lot worse in the international sphere as the price of a third world ignoramus sitting in some UN committe panel is certainly not higher than that of a corrupt US politician.

      How would a "third world ignoramus" end up on a UN committe? Does Kofi Annan [un.org] fit your view of third world people in the UN system? The FUD about the UN is staggering.

  • by vandenh (224583) <vandenh@hotmai l . com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:04AM (#8361324) Homepage
    Maybe you haven't noticed, but these kind of things happen ALL the time. Sadly it is called "Capitalism" and your new found anger at MS is a bit misplaced here. Start with being angry at politicains for introducing this kind of behavior and accepting money to drive the whims of big cooperations.
    • by mirio (225059)
      Sadly it is called "Capitalism" and your new found anger at MS is a bit misplaced here.

      You're wrong. It's called corruption when industry interferes with or influences government. Capitalism is the belief that if something is needed, people will provide it for a price and those that need it will pay the best price to get it from those who have it.
      • Capitalism is the belief that if something is needed, people will provide it for a price and those that need it will pay the best price to get it from those who have it.
        Like if I have something (say, power to influence standards decisions at the UN), and there are people willing to pay for it (say, Microsoft), I will provide my good/service for a price and my buyer will accept if the price is reasonable?

        This is still corruption, but it's no less capitalism.
  • It's Dead, Jim. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:06AM (#8361331)
    The world is in open moral collapse - not to mention denial.

    Same as it always was, really, but with scantier drapes.

    And no-one seems interested in ( i.e.: scared into ) checks and balances of any sort.

    The even minimally ethical, with hope or intent for an even minimally decent future for humanity, or the world, have less places to gather in (on, around) - or hide.

    Raw, naked, ruthless, mindless, hell-bent power seems to the order of the day. Klingons with corny western accents, eh ? Well, well. Who'd a thunk it ? And everyone's welcoming them like there was no tomorry, too. >:-|
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:07AM (#8361333) Journal
    I simply can't take an article seriously that starts "PizzaFace writes..."

    -S

  • I think a discussion about paying to influence the UN would be a little shallow without bringing this [go.com] up for perspective.
  • maybe the UN... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajagci (737734) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:11AM (#8361361)
    shouldn't get involved in the definition of XML standards at all. After all, we already have several excellent international, neutral standards bodies that worry about this sort of thing.
    • It's not about defining XML, but rather developing cool government apps that small countries need to provide basic functions...and get some help from "western" countries in doing it.

      The whole point of these UN projects is to support smaller troubled governments with a "government-in-a-box" type project. The original goal was to base it on OSS so that it was Free for any govt to use!!! Then the small countries would have the same benifits as medium-sized countries...ability to build Tax bases, track nat

      • It's not about defining XML, but rather developing cool government apps that small countries need to provide basic functions...and get some help from "western" countries in doing it.

        But they are defining XML standards and getting far more involved in the software business than I think it makes sense for them.

        The small countries that are the target of such projects will NEVER be able to afford the proprietary solutions that are being suggested! If they DO get any "free" MS or IBM stuff from the deal, tha
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:13AM (#8361369)
    You guys are all up in arms about how Microsoft is corrupting the process and buying people. But I think that misses the point. Why is the UN working on international business practices? Who asked them to? Why do we need it?


    The UN should work on foster better relations between countries. They should work on eliminating all WMDs (even those in the first world) They should cure hunger and famine and disesase and educate the world. They should work toward universal human rights. And when they have accomlished that, disband.


    We don't need a world body to help business, they can do that perfectly well on their own. And to do so, only opens up the possibility of corruption with no concievable gain. Why is even as single penny of UN money or a single second of UN time going to this effort when much more pressing needs exist?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "So we fix the plumbing while our ship plunges into the sun?"
      "Better that then do nothing!"

      Those are, for the most part (not everyone in international relations agrees that WMD is a major problem in the first world), big problems that you've listed. Unfortunately, many of them are also intractable problems - otherwise they would have been solved decades ago. Focusing on the "major" issues to the exclusion of everything else isn't always the best way to go.

      Look at it this way: yes, Al-Qaeda is a huge pro
    • The UN Centre for Trade Facilitation formed a partnership with OASIS in 1999 or 2000 for the purpose of creating a new e-Business lingua franca. The idea is that it can help the successful industrial nations AS WELL as the impoverished third world nations through providing non-proprietary systems design.

      Most of us that worked within UN/CEFACT did so at our own, or our employers expense. We even paid fees to attend the meetings. So, at the end of the day the UN is spending diddly squat on this effort and
    • UN/CEFACT works on standards for business documents. There's something called EDI [x12.org] (Electronic Document Interchange) which has 2 major forks - in North America a group called DISA [disa.org] has an X-12 committee to create and maintain the standards. Everywhere else in the world uses EDIFACT standards, which are made and maintained by UN/CEFACT. [unece.org]

      So when you go to Wal-Mart or JC Penney or even Dell and buy something, the whole business process behind that revolves around electronic documents. An electronic Purcha
  • by bob670 (645306) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:13AM (#8361370)
    obvious, expected, business as usual, not worhty of a headline, etc... But I think it's worthwhile to point this stuff out, software companies influencing political bodies are bad for everyone, equally bad are political bodies controlling software, think of it as a desperately needed techno-geek seperation of church and state. Maybe if people would take this more serioulsy instead of accepting that this is "the way it is" things might change.
  • by stephanruby (542433) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:15AM (#8361378)
    Why do we need a standard set by the UN anyway?
  • by fr0dicus (641320) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:15AM (#8361379) Journal
    1. Don't break up monopolies
    2. ??????
    3. profit!!!!

    Except now we know what (2) is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:17AM (#8361390)
    Remember - The U.N. does not answer to any voter in the world. Instead, the U.N. answers to... politicians!

    That's why the U.N. is such a thoroughly corrupted entity. The U.N. enjoys a multi-billion dollar budget that is in theory controlled by the governments of a few large country... but in reality, the politicians from those country come and go, and in the end, the U.N. does not really answer to any one.

    Lack of oversight over a multibillion dollar budget... yeah! That's the ticket!

    Look a this Wall Street Journal article about Kofi Annan deep-sixing the corruption investigation of his best-buddy at the U.N. (Annan's Assistant Secretary General & friend Benon Sevan pocketed millions from Irak).
    http://216.239.41.104/search?q=cache:Yxb36 w0dDykJ: 209.157.64.200/focus/f-news/1074281/posts+Saddam%2 7s+Global+Payroll&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
  • so... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mr_tommy (619972) <tgraham@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:20AM (#8361403) Journal
    Whats new. Microsoft buy of people all the time. Its not just Microsoft either. Most American business engage in dubious practices to sell their products. IBM got burned for bribing officials in Asia lately - just because other companies haven't had their dodgy dealings uncovered doesn't mean it doesn't go on.
  • by swb (14022) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:21AM (#8361410)
    It's not that it's surprising that Microsoft would be buying influence at the UN; most of the member states are headed by kleptocratic governments whose first question is "How much for me?" Even when the governments aren't fatally corrupt, payoffs are the way to get things done in most places the UN represents.

    That MS is playing by those rules isn't surprising at all, and I'm sure the Bush adminstration is rooting for standards tied to corporate interests and IP as well.
  • by GreenKiwi (221281) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:28AM (#8361440)
    Slashdot needs to create another category for some of their stories. The "No shit Sherlock!" category.
  • Of course... (Score:4, Informative)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:44AM (#8361508) Homepage Journal
    Regardless of who it is, any big buiness that has the funds will try to manipulate things in order to assist their growth and locking out competition..

    Normal operating procedure.. why act suprised?
  • MS and standards are a bit of a contradiction. MS will tembrace any standard and then extend it as they seem fit.
    In this case they were afraid that ebXML was gathering too much momentum so they just tried throwing a few sticks in the wheels of ebXML.
  • Wasted money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ncaHammer (518236)
    Why MS is paying for something they will not follow after voted?
  • by scruffy (29773) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:24AM (#8361739)
    IBM has had some experience with trying to impose a proprietary standard when there a good, open one. Anybody remember IBM's token rings?
  • Next question, please.
  • They want to be recognized as their own country.
  • Did anyone stop to think that the BCF perhaps is a better standard than ebXML? Oh, that's right, since Microsoft is behind it - and we all know how much you like them - it must be proprietary. I suppose you all missed that IBM is pushing this, too? And from what I've read some time back, others are too. So far as I can tell, OASIS is only backing ebXML.

    Do you people even know what these two standards are for? I doubt it. You just see the word "Microsoft" and start raving like uninformed idiots.

    So what i

  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dada21 (163177)
    Problems like these aren't resolved by preventing payoffs by "big business" or even by "a rich individual." Problems such as these are resolved by limiting the power of the elected official.

    The UN has too much power. When you offer a person or a group of people, aka "elected officials" too much power, they'll be corrupted easily.

    In the US, we used to have a really limited federal/central government. You could throw all the money you wanted at a Congressman or a President, but the Constitution limited t
  • Lobbying (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yoshi_mon (172895) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:34AM (#8362325)
    Many posts here have been modded up, and rightly so I suppose, for pointing out that this is business as useal.

    However, unless people like us are in the know about things like this we there is nothing to stop large business groups from railroading whatever they see fit though standardizing boards.

    Yes this is a news site. Yes, guys and gals this IS news. Yeah, the editors have a anti-MS bias but that does not mean that it's not newsworthy.
  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:34PM (#8363463)
    http://www.whitehouseforsale.org/ContributorsAndPa ybacks/pioneer_search.cfm [whitehouseforsale.org]

    The site is sponsored by a group called Public Citzen, a 30 year old organization established with Ralph Nader that among other tracks the funding of all canidates, regardless of party:

    Microsoft is on the list of contributors to the Bush reelection campaign.

    Steve

  • TRUSTED COMPUTING (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alsee (515537) on Monday February 23, 2004 @02:37PM (#8365040) Homepage
    The story completely misses the fact that it's all about standards for TRUSTED COMPUTING DRM information formats. Just Google ebXML "Trusted Computing" [google.com]. These information exchange formats only work on top of a "security system" - they only work if your computer contains a "TCPA Chip". Without the chip you get locked out.

    The fact that Micorsoft is promoting one Trusted Computing document format over another is insignifigant. The fact that the UN is promoting Trusted Computing AT ALL is what we should be horrified about.

    They are tring to ram through Trusted Computing adoption under the UN authority because the rest of the world would rebell against a US or US/EU effort to impose such a system. Any country that does not adopt Trusted Computing (and create laws protecting that crippled hardware) will be entirely locked out. It would be a monumental Trade barrier. Such countries would be increasingly locked out of the internet itself.

    -

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