Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Is Microsoft Paying To Influence UN Standards?

Comments Filter:
  • by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:36AM (#8361206) Homepage Journal
    Did they do anything besides present their technology? What financial incentives did the UN gain from ebXML?
  • by Enoch Root (57473) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:37AM (#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 snatchitup (466222) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:37AM (#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 chrisbtoo (41029) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:44AM (#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 @08:49AM (#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 emtboy9 (99534) <jeff @ j e f flane.org> on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:50AM (#8361269) Homepage

    Do you know how much these people earn?


    No... do you? But think about it this way. Even if the UN ambassadors are not as well paid (and their salaries do come from their respective countries) as the "average politician" in their countries, you can rest assured that they ARE paid much much more than the "average citizen" that they claim to represent. Such is the same with any politician. Pols are ALWAYS paid more than they are worth, and always make far more than the people they represent.

    Being flown around by MS is a big perk for these people. And I bet the MS PR folk really know how to perk up a lowley UN grunts ego to boot...


    I doubt it. UN officials (or at least the ones that sit on committees like this) dont fly business class. And first class tickets cost the same no matter who is paying for it.

    NOW, if MS was flying them around on their own fleet of private Jets, that is something else entirely. And besides, the lowley UN grunt doesnt sit in committee in the UN building collecting checks from multinationals... the lowley UN grunt is on the ground in Kenya, or Bosnia, or Iraq, or somewhere like that, handing out rice, giving innoculations to children and other such things. Often for months at a time, in some of the worst imaginable conditions.

    The ones who sit in committee would never even set foot in most countries they claim to be looking out for, unless it was for a chauffered ride to the presidential mansion, or palace of whatever country it is...

    And even the ones who are high up the food chain, who DO happen to get their hands dirty every so often do so under far more security and protection than even common diplomats get.

    I imagine that they are getting far more than a couple plane rides and a hotel room...
  • it's bad enough... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday February 23, 2004 @08:58AM (#8361298)
    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 AKnightCowboy (608632) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:00AM (#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 dpbrown (596946) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:09AM (#8361348)
    I think a discussion about paying to influence the UN would be a little shallow without bringing this [go.com] up for perspective.
  • by defMan (175410) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:11AM (#8361357)
    No... do you? But think about it this way. Even if the UN ambassadors are not as well paid (and their salaries do come from their respective countries) as the "average politician" in their countries, you can rest assured that they ARE paid much much more than the "average citizen" that they claim to represent. Such is the same with any politician. Pols are ALWAYS paid more than they are worth, and always make far more than the people they represent.

    The dutch socialist party [sp.nl] takes the salary from their politicians and pays them an average salary (couldn't find how much directly). The money which is left over is used for campaigns and party activities.

    So there are politicians which are a notable exception here.
  • Re: What? The UN? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by david.gilbert (605443) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:15AM (#8361375)
    Achieving consensus is hard. Really hard. It is what good leaders do well.
  • so... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mr_tommy (619972) <tgraham@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:20AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:20AM (#8361406)
    ...and pays them an average salary (couldn't find how much directly)...

    Please get the details before defending politicians.

    So there are politicians which are a notable exception here.

    Somehow, I seriously doubt that. Supply more evidence please.
  • Maybe but... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:33AM (#8361460)
    Microsoft don't really need to do the dirty work themselves. The US state department really goes out of it's way to make sure US corporate interests are well taken care of in these forums.
  • by nietsch (112711) on Monday February 23, 2004 @09:51AM (#8361547) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by the_2nd_coming (444906) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:18AM (#8361683) Homepage
    but the UN is a group of courup jerks.

    first, elements of the french government (elements does not mean the government) were in bed with Saddam in order to enrich themselves at the price of the Iraqi people.

    now the UN is selling out to Microsoft.
  • Politicians' pay (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:18AM (#8361686)
    Such is the same with any politician. Pols are ALWAYS paid more than they are worth, and always make far more than the people they represent.

    Dunno where you live but here in the UK the vast majority of poilticians are most definitely upaid and are part of the voluntary sector. (Only the few hundred members of parliament and a few others get paid - the many thousands of councillors don't.)
  • by Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:36AM (#8361833)
    Pols are ALWAYS paid more than they are worth, and always make far more than the people they represent.
    Bullshit. My father was on the city council of our town for several years, and until the last year, was unpaid for the service. Even when a ballot initiative passed to make it a paid position, it paid less than $20k a year. Despite that, he spent 30 or 40 hours a week meeting with constituents, reading memos and reports, attending council meetings, budget meetings, pension board meetings, planning board meetings... There are people who serve in public office because they want to make things better. Not everyone is just in it for themselves.
  • by dnoyeb (547705) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:47AM (#8361915) Homepage Journal
    I recall what the US said to South Africa.

    Well give you money to support your nation, but you must allow us to give you agricultural goods as well for free.

    SA was willing to accept the free money, but refused to accept the free Aggi goods. SA did not want to destroy their own countries Aggi economy. The US thus refused to support them monetarily.

    Yes free stuff is not always as it appears. This tactic used BY microsoft is also the tactic they try to suggest OSS is using against them. The Devil always sees the devil in everyone else.
  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:54AM (#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.

  • by ZoneGray (168419) on Monday February 23, 2004 @10:57AM (#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.
  • Lobbying (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yoshi_mon (172895) on Monday February 23, 2004 @11:34AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:25PM (#8362708)
    In now is absolutely transparent what Microsoft's motives are, EMBRACE, EXTEND, and EXTINQUISH the Open ebXML standards.

    The disappointing aspect of this story is IBM's envolvement. What are they thinking? They've gotten their clocks cleaned serveral times working with Microsoft. Won't they ever learn?

    Meanwhile, it begs the question of IBM's motives in supporting Linux. If they are in league with Microsoft's efforst to undermine an international XML standard that creates and maintains a LEVEL playing field for everyone, what other anti-competitive practices are on their agenda that we don't yet know about?
  • Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bonch (38532) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:36PM (#8362837)
    Is it Microsoft who is evil for spending money or the UN for being influenced by it?
  • by mirio (225059) on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:54PM (#8363003)
    Excuse me, Sir Coward but I am stating facts. I take offense to your claiming I am mindlessly repeating everything my government says.

    If you really believed what you write, or if your comment was based on logic, reason and understanding and not deep-seated hatred of the US, perhaps you would not post anonymously.

    Government propoganda? Perhaps you've fallen into the trap of believing UN propaganda, my friend.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 23, 2004 @03:06PM (#8364661)
    Do you know how much these people earn?

    Actually, I DO know. And it's MUCH MUCH more than you think, based on your comment. UN is fairly corrupt as an organization. Or, rather, segmented; so that geographical areas have their own quotas, and for some areas things are no different than if they had tribal leaders looting all the wealth. And higher ranking positions, then, are quite like noble titles in feudal kingdoms; with nice perks included.

    In effect, most all UN employed people (or at least ones with some power, which would include people mentioned in the article) are nicely compensated; even by western standards.

    Apologies for anonymous posting (posting from work); but I do know couple of fairly high-ranking UN workers. And they do earn same or more than I (10-year experience, senior s/w engineer)... plus, that's TAX-FREE. And their kids' college education is generally paid for by UN, too (perhaps only at certain level, not sure).

  • TRUSTED COMPUTING (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alsee (515537) on Monday February 23, 2004 @03:37PM (#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.

    -

"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday

Working...