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Peruvian Congressman vs. Microsoft FUD 392

An Anonymous Coward writes: "Carve a new face on the Mount Rushmore of Linux: Peruvian Congressman David Villanueva Nuñez brilliantly vapourizes the Chicken Little division of the MS Fud Machine. Long read but inspiring. Add another name to the list of people who get that 'All that is required for Evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.'" Update: 05/07 00:03 GMT by T : Antonio Ognio Cesti has an update: "We are some activists working here in Peru to bring the documents to more eyeballs with better bandwidth." They've done just that, writing, "Now we have much better hosting in the U.S. and the original FUD letter completely translated into English."
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Peruvian Congressman vs. Microsoft FUD

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  • Confusing (Score:3, Funny)

    by crumbz ( 41803 ) <<remove_spam>jus ... o spam>gmail.com> on Monday May 06, 2002 @01:57PM (#3471072) Homepage
    Everytime I read the letter, I think they are talking about Bill G not the Bill. Of course, the Bill is the oppostie of what Bill wants. So in reviewing the Bill, I support the Bill because Bill doesn't like the Bill.

    I think.

  • Go Peru! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blankmange ( 571591 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @01:58PM (#3471083)
    Sounds odd, but this is exactly what needs to happen to slap MS down a peg or two. I have read on several occasions recently that most of South and Central America are considering open-source in all government computers -- that's great! No chance in hell of it happening here in the US, but then their governments aren't propped up by corporations, either...
  • Another repost... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by danro ( 544913 )
    This [slashdot.org] was posted just a few days ago. Don't you editors ever check at all?
    Sounds like there is some need for a better search engine at /. It would benefit us all.
  • Hey look, there's the ball over there ---->.

    And here's timothy over here

    But wait, who's on the ball?

    I dunno, but it sure ain't timothy...cuz this was posted 2 days ago. :P
  • Not because OSS is best in *every* situation - but because in the 80% where it is the right decision, this article explains the needs to do it right (ie - have staff that is trained, pay for support), while dismissing the fears sent by proprietary companies.

    The fact is, OSS is here to stay in the business, and only by really competing (ie - coming up with a better product for the price) can businesses hope to keep profitable. Of course, with more companies (Red Hat, Suse, IBM) making a profit from Open Source, the consumer will win every time.

    Ah, competition. How I love thee.
  • I've been trying to hit http://www.gnu.org.pe all day, with no luck. Comments about re-posting an article from Saturday aside (after all, many don't check /. til Monday morning), brief letters from tiny, foreign webservers are the sort of thing that ought to be pasted into the /. article explanation.
  • by jonathanjo ( 415010 ) <jono@[ ].org ['fsf' in gap]> on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:06PM (#3471156) Homepage
    That repeated so quickly my head is spinning! We were just discussing this [slashdot.org] on /. on Saturday.

    Q: What's the difference between an M-16 and /.?

    A: An M-16 only repeats 100x/min.

    But while we're back (still?)on the topic, has anyone translated the original FUD letter [gnu.org.pe] from the M$ Peru guy (might be mirrored [gnu.org.pe], which the honorable Sr. Nunez so elquently rebutted, into English?

  • Man, I bet this guy peed his pants when he realized he'd get to use the word "bureaux" in print.

    Aside from that, the letter is really interesting. It's very well-written and persuasive, IMO. In fact, I have trouble believing it was written by a Congressperson for that very reason. Also, I wonder how many American legislators can write that clearly in English. Not to mention how direct the langauge is, actually avoiding the kinds of analogies and meaningless soundbites that fill American political speech.

    The more I think of this, the more it says to me "hoax." Anyone have a read on the authenticity of the letter?

    • The Congressman has the title "Dr." in front of his name. People who earn that distinction do so primarily by writing clearly about the things they research and the things they think about. So, I'm not surprised that he can put words together.

      • It is also far more acceptable in Spanish speaking countries to use the title of "Doctor" for have any doctorate degree at all. In the US, PhD's are discouraged from using the title unless they are, in fact, MD's. Also, those who have bachelor's degrees frequently are called (and can call themselves) Licenciado, abbreviated as, e.g, "Lic. Lemmy Caution."

        He is probably a Doctor of Law or some such.

    • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:39PM (#3471423) Homepage Journal
      It was translated. The links to the original versions are at the very top of the article.

      Unfortunately, the links are down, so, google cache time!

      Original Response [google.com]

      Original Microsoft FUD Letter [google.com]

      Both are in Spanish, BTW.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A 'hoax'?
      What would the purpose of that possibly be?
      Just because you can't fathom an intelligent politician doesn't mean the Peruvians didn't elect one, and he didn't just tell MS to fuck off.
      I see no reason this would be a 'hoax'.
  • Bill 1609 (Score:2, Funny)

    by heneon ( 570292 )
    As a non-english speaking person I found it difficult to read the article, because every time they talk about "Bill Number 1609", I see this picture of thousands of Bill Gates clones. Oh the horror! I guess I'm waiting too much fot the Attack Of The Clones.
  • This was posted already,and the gnu.org.pe site already slashdotted. Google also seems to have taken down their cached version of the page.

    Here is a link to the entire letter [slashdot.org] on slashdot.

  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:12PM (#3471187) Journal
    Yes, this was just posted [slashdot.org] Saturday, but I'll bet a lot of people don't look back at stuff from the weekends. That being said ...

    His letter is a long way of saying, "Please decide which side of your mouth to speak out of." By the third time he pointed out, "This contradicts what you said in the previous paragraph," I had tears streaming down my face.

    This contradiction alone would invalidate your position.


    This argument repeats that already given in paragraph 5 and partly contradicts paragraph 3. For the sake of brevity we refer to the comments on those paragraphs.


    In addition, in this paragraph you correctly point out that the service components and losses due to down-time make up the largest part of the total cost of software use, which, as you will note, contradicts your statement regarding the small value of services suggested in paragraph 3.


    On the other hand, there certainly exist types of volume licensing (although unfortunately proprietary software does not satisfy the basic principles). But as you correctly pointed out in the immediately precding paragraph of your letter, they only manage to reduce the impact of a component which makes up no more than 8% of the total.
    • i got the feeling stallman had crawled up this man's ass and was wearing him like a suit. i too got tears in my eyes/water came close to coming out of my nose several times.

      i'm definately saving this one for reference later.

      ms has had trouble lately with it's people repeating what they are told and not actually thinking about what they are saying.

      i think i'm going to have to write the guy in peru a letter asking him to talk to my congressman.
    • What I loved was how _polite_ this Peruvian is. That is, where I would say "Can't you even keep your damned lies straight?", he says something like "You seem to be unaware...". Yeah, Gates is really unaware that the guarantee in his own EULA is no guarantee at all...
  • Yes, the guy's a genius. Yes, it's a blow. But bear in mind, if you read the entire thing, it doesn't talk about putting Linux on every public sector PC.

    The gist that I get is that they're definitely moving to an open-source/free office suite.

    They don't really say anything about changing the OS, although I think it would make plenty of sense if they're willing to put up with the costs of re-educating every govt. employee.

    Hrm. Since Nunez mentions Theo and Darren Reed, I'm guessing that Peru is going to be installing OpenBSD with ipf, not Linux as some of you might have hoped... ;P
    • As opposed to mentioning ESR and Alan Cox? The whole poitn is to use OSS whether it be OpenBSD or Linux or anything else for that matter.

      This is why BSD doesn't get many nods of the head in print. Because as soon as you do they think they're king of the world, so they just get left out altogether. ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The law applies to "software", although the memo does focus on office suites in a couple of places. A good choice, I thought, since that is the bigger cash cow for MS and made the memo all the more painful.

      BSD, Linux, who cares? The point it this guy is one of the few people in any government today, anywhere, actually working in the name of the governed.
      • BSD, Linux, who cares?

        Because it demonstrates that at least a few people out there understand that Open Source != Linux. Is the German Parliament moving to Open Source or just Linux? Has the Finnish government standardized on Free Software or just that written by their native son?

        I could give a rat's ass as the popularity of the software I use, but for most people it's their number one concern. People who use Linux just because it's popular, cool, or the latest media darling, are the people who don't get it. Frankly, I don't think the German or Finnish governments get it.But Peru does, because they aren't waving a flag with a penguin on it.
    • by red flavor ( 570217 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:49PM (#3471498)
      I don't understand why there is so much aggrivated rivalry between Linux, BSD, OSX, etc. Friendly competition, and even friendly jibes, are understandable. But the 'ha ha, it's BSD not linux!' or vice versa, is childish and regressive.

      I've been using Linux since 1996, and I love it. But I don't feel any enmity with the BSD folk, or any other free software/OSS system. I use RedHat. Not because it's necessarily better, but it works for me and I like it. But if you like Debian, or Gentoo, or SuSE, more power to you! I don't feel the need to inflict my choice on you.

      Competition is good. Gnome vs KDE is good for both sides. It stimulates thought and advancement. Same goes for Linux vs BSD. I mean, come on! Most of the software even runs on both platforms!

      MS, on the other hand, isn't about competition. It's about crushing everything that isn't MS. They don't give you a choice. In fact, the take away choices that you already have. That's worth fighting against.

      If Peru goes BSD, then great! If they use Linux, fantastic! It doesn't matter, because it means freedom in either case. It also means great interoperability, because Linux & BSD get along just fine in a heterogenous environment. So they could use BSD *and* Linux! That's the whole point.
    • The Bill is specific to all software used in the public domain. This means libraries, government offices, etc.

      The bills main purpose is to ensure that there's no possibility of data access being dependant on a private 3rd party. The citizens entrust the goverment with their data and the goverment is making sure that they will always be able to provide it free of charge.

      To not have the source code makes you 100% dependant on the company that produces it. Lets say terrorists blow up all the MS buildings and MS somehow falls off the face of the earth. 2 days later a security hole is found and a worm compromises every system running Outlook (Not hard to believe). Who will create the patch? What would happen is the US government would do like they did during Melissa and other worms. They pull the plug on internet access and data is no longer available to the people.

      The other rebuttals are simply a way of giving MS the finger for trying such lame FUD tactics on a guy that's obviously technically competent and intelligent. I love it.
    • Hrm. Since Nunez mentions ...

      Actualy, it is "Mr. Villanueva" instead of "Mr. Nunez".

      Hes is not anglophone, nor his family or culture are anglophone. So, please, use the proper way of addressing Mr. Villanueva.

      Thank you.

      • Thank you for pointing out that Villanueva is his family name, rather than Nuñez. That form of name construction is extremely unusual to anglophones, so we could probably be forgiven for thinking Nuñez is correct.

        However, he did sign his letter Dr. David Villanueva Nuñez. I rather susupect that he worked very hard for his doctorate, so please, use the proper way of addressing Dr. Villanueva.

        Thank you.

  • This influence of marketing is in large measure reduced by the bill that we are backing, since the choice within the framework proposed is based on the *technical merits* of the product and not on the effort put into commercialization by the producer; in this sense, competitvity is increased, since the smallest software producer can compete on equal terms with the most powerful corporations.

    Microsoft: Why you little...! We have $40 billion dollars cash! That's a third of your GDP for one year! We will crush you!

    RedHat, et al: Wait a minute, you mean we can actually compete fairly with Microsoft?

    Apple: OS X has UNIX underpinnings, and is lickable!

    RedHat, et al: This'll be like shooting fish in a barrel...

    FreeBSD: What about me? I'm always left behind to do the real work. Why can't I be hip and flashy too?
  • by Papineau ( 527159 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:24PM (#3471280) Homepage
    Since so many /. users notice so quickly that a story is a repost, why don't the editors do the same? Do they actually read what the others ran?

    It might be because of the duplicates the editors see all day in the submission bin. When you read so many stories, it might be difficult to judge if you already saw it in the submission bin (and rejected it) or if it made it through to /. homepage...

    Would a "not a repost" committee, with some regular users as members, help? They could be chosen the same way as moderators (randomly, but still based on past level of activity). This would likely catch a lot of reposts, since usually, in the first ~30 comments, half of them are complaining about the repost. If a member flags a story as repost, the editor could then verify it, and refrain from actually putting it on the frontpage and look as somebody not doing a lot of backgroung checking.

    Food for thought...
    • It's worth a repost (and a reread) just in case anyone missed it the first time around. It's still news.
    • This is one time when a repost is justified -- for those who have a life on weekends and missed it. The Peruvian Congressman's letter is a truly great job of writing up the advantages of open source for (open) government.

      Of course, the repost should have included a link to the old post. Or would it be better to just reset the clock on the old post so it stayed on the front page?
  • Too bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by avandesande ( 143899 )
    all our politicians are lawyers....
  • by ReelOddeeo ( 115880 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:37PM (#3471400)
    it would have been even more worthwhile for me if, rather than formulating objections of a general nature [...] you had gathered solid arguments for the advantages that proprietary software could bring [...] since this would have allowed a more enlightening exchange in respect of each of our positions.

    If MS would submit arguments in favor of proprietary software instead of submitting FUD in opposition to free software, then this would allow an even more enlightening exchange! Wow! Just the exchange in this letter was enlightening enough. Probably so enlightening that MS doesn't want to draw any more attention.
    • No no...you have it wrong...a more enlightened Exchange(TM) would be a solid argument for the advantages that proprietary software could bring.

      The current version of exchange only serves as an argument for free software.
  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:43PM (#3471450)
    What I find funny [slashdot.org] is that [slashdot.org] the people [slashdot.org] who constantly [slashdot.org] complain [slashdot.org] about reposts [slashdot.org] can't [slashdot.org] figure [slashdot.org]
    out that they are doing the same thing [slashdot.org].

    That said, I have to say, "You go, Edgar!" Replies to M$ FUD needs more people like you.

  • by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:46PM (#3471470) Homepage Journal

    Everyone of the argument planks in the proposed bill is good, and not just for Peru. Every sovereign government based upon the ideas of representative democracy can expect similar gains if they were to follow the same principles. They are logical principles.

    Free, unencumbered and open communication are the hallmarks of any society that hopes to better itself. Restricting communication to those who can afford to pay for a read/write access device, such as MS Word or Corel Wordperfect or whatever, is an inefficiency, pure and simple.

    Enduring archival of public documents is, likewise, important for any society that wishes to learn from history instead of repeating the same mistakes. A written language used to be enough to guarantee such archival. Now, the essential medium is no longer paper, but the authoring and reading of documents is no longer just a matter of learning how to read and write, it's become of matter of having paid all of the taxes.

    National security issues of knowing exactly what it is you are running. This is one issue that largely continues beneath the surface. It's very surprising to me that in the post 9/11 world that more hasn't been made of critical infrastructure running only programs you can see for yourself and compile for yourself.

    • With this letter Mr David Villanueva Nuñez effectively killed the use of proprietary closed software in any country governed by sane politicians.
    • Enduring archival of public documents is, likewise, important for any society that wishes to learn from history instead of repeating the same mistakes.

      Governments often need to hold on to information for a long time. Quite often longer than a human lifetime.

      National security issues of knowing exactly what it is you are running. This is one issue that largely continues beneath the surface. It's very surprising to me that in the post 9/11 world that more hasn't been made of critical infrastructure running only programs you can see for yourself and compile for yourself.

      Sane governments do not put things critial for their own operation in the hands of foreign nationals. Even the nationals of close allies.
  • WTO or FTAA action (Score:4, Interesting)

    by akb ( 39826 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:48PM (#3471483)
    It will be very interesting to see whether MS will get any of the "free" trade orgs into this or (more likely) get the US to lean on Peru. They use words like "discriminatory" which have specific meaning with respect to international trade.

    A World Trade Organization ('member the big protest in Seattle?) action would require action by the US government on MS's behalf. That's pretty unlikely given the likely size of the trade, it would probably be more trouble than its worth.

    Under the in process Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement ('member the protests in Quebec City?) MS could sue Peru directly and receive compensation and overturn the law (if that statement doesn't bother you replace the word "Peru" with "US" or whatever country you live in and see how that makes you feel).

    In any event its very likely that MS's Washington lobbyist corp has talked to the office of the US Trade Rep and Peru will suffer in some way for its impudence to MS.
    • Already happened (Score:3, Informative)

      by drew_kime ( 303965 )

      From PBS Frontline [pbs.org]:

      The California case in point began with a chemical -- MTBE -- that was added to gasoline to help the state clean up its air. But MTBE was found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. And in 1995, it began to show up in drinking water.


      Chapter 11 is only one provision in the 555-page North American Free Trade Agreement -- negotiated to promote business among the US, Canada and Mexico. It was supposedly written to protect investors if foreign governments tried to seize their property.

      But corporations have stretched NAFTA's Chapter 11 to undermine environmental decisions -- the decisions of local communities -- even the verdict of an American jury. The cases brought so far total almost four billion dollars.

      Under the terms of NAFTA, an environmental regulation is regarded as a "taking" and the state may have to pay a huge settlement to the manufacturer.

      • Cool, I knew about the case but hadn't known it was on PBS. I didn't see it mentioned on the website that the company is seeking $1billion in damages.

        I also didn't see anything mentioning the FTAA, which is often called the NAFTA for the Western Hemisphere in case people don't get the connection between NAFTA and the FTAA.
    • It will be very interesting to see whether MS will get any of the "free" trade orgs into this or (more likely) get the US to lean on Peru. They use words like "discriminatory" which have specific meaning with respect to international trade.

      This was my first thought too, but I think they're in the clear as long as they simply set standards for their software and apply them equally.

      So, if Microsoft wanted to provide versions of its products under the GPL, and ensure their products all saved data in non-proprietary standard formats, they would be more than welcome to compete for Peru's business. :-)

      • I wouldn't underestimate corporate power's ability to use these type of international fora as their instruments. They are the ones who drove their creation afterall. I would think the tribunals that hear these cases would be likely to be sympathetic to MS's arguement that the software business generally is a victim of this bill.

        The debate between MS and the Peruvian Congressman seems to be really over a fundamental clash of values, ie the definition of "the public good" in a market fundamentalist manner, ie short term profit is the only measure that needs to be looked at vs defining it in terms of cooperation and transparency. This is the same debate that seems to come up with the neoliberal globalists that advocate institutions like the WTO and FTAA and the anti-corporate globalization movement.
        • Remember that the Peruvian Bill does NOT cover the open market ( private sector ). It's just for government agencies. Does the WTO or FTAA have control over how other governments conduct THEIR business?

          To tell you the truth, I'd LOVE to see this get esculated. As it is now, we'll be lucky if it gets outside of The Register and Slashdot/Linux press. When we see it on CNN, Forbes, WSJ, etc. then we know it's out of Microsoft's control.

          • by esh ( 23599 )
            WTO specifically regulates procurement in the public sector, i.e., any purchase by a government which would total more than $130'000. At least that was the sum when I had to go through the procedures in 1999. It might be higher today.

            Private companies are free to buy whatever they want from whoever they want. The WTO rules prohibit governments from imposing unfair restrictions. This is specifically relevant to discrimination between domestic and foreign companies. I am pretty sure that the choice of words in the response letter is meant to address exactly the WTO regulations.

  • Politician Envy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gripdamage ( 529664 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @02:49PM (#3471493)
    You know whenever I read Tony Blair's speeches for instance or the writings of other foreign politicians such as this one, I get a little jealous. The holder of the highest political office in this country, in addition to constantly using phrases like "evil-doers" and "smoke 'em out of their holes", says things like:

    "This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating."
    - G.W. Bush as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002

    See http://www.bushcartoon.com/bushisms.html [bushcartoon.com] for more examples.
    • Re:Politician Envy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Taurine ( 15678 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @06:32PM (#3473328)
      What you're missing about Blair is that despite claiming to be a socialist, his likes nothing better than hanging out with the rich and famous. When he won his first election, he celebrated by throwing a party for pop stars and film stars. And he wastes no opportunity to hang out with BillG. He has sold out much of the UK government IT systems to M$, including this thing called the Government Gateway, which is now basically the world's biggest reference .Net installation - which has been mandated as something all local government organisations have to connect into by 2005. There was an article on The Register not many days ago about the number of serious M$ licences needed to connect each of the hundreds of local government offices to this thing.

      And the idea is that any citizen or organisation wanting to interact with the government will do it online, though Gateway. And the government has this contract with M$ that says M$ can resell the product to other countries (it was built by M$ consultancy, whose massive rates were paid by the government), and the UK gets a mere 20% of the profit from any future sales. So now the UK government has a commercial motive to promote the M$ platform to as many other countries as possible. It makes me sick!
  • Peru giving the first world a lesson in democratic principles. Should be required reading for every candidate at every level in US politics.
    • Peru giving the first world a lesson in democratic principles. Should be required reading for every candidate at every level in US politics

      I'm not sure how it will directly help the US. Where the two biggest problems are a lack of political parties (are there any elected officials who are not members of either the Democratic or Republican parties?) and massive lobbying by corporate interests.
      • Jesse Ventura is an elected official who is not a member of either the Democratic or Republican parties.

        Granted, he's governor of the only state that carried Mondale...
      • Last time I looked, admittedly some time ago, the entire fscking nation is subject to massive lobbying by corporate interests. Most citizens, contrary to elitist libertarian dogma, can tell the difference between an editorial and an advertisement; so can the average congressman. Massive lobbying is not inherently a problem; unprincipled and unchallenged legislators are the problem.
      • Well, the "winner take all" system of election we use makes it very difficult for new parties to make inroads. Whichever individual candidate gets the most votes wins the seat, end of discussion - there's very little motivation to be in a small party, because you can't muster the resources to capture the majority vote for a given seat, and will likely never hold an office.

        In political systems where each party gets a number of seats equal to its percentage of votes, there are generally quite a few political parties. There is a good reason to be in a small party, because even if you don't get too may votes, you'll still have a good shot at getting into the political body. There is, of course, a catch to this. I'll vastly oversimplify it for the sake of demonstration.

        Imagine that there are 5 political parties, two liberal, two conservative, and "The Sell Everything to A Major Corporation Party (SEMC)". Now, the first four parties, being relatively rational political entities, garner the majority of the votes...about 98%, evenly divided. The last 2% is taken by SEMC. Now, any time a borderline issue comes up where the major parties come up close to even on a vote, guess who decides - that's right, that tiny little 2% party.

        Is this worse than a system where the only two (de facto) parties are at the mercy of corporate spending for campaign contribution? Probably not - but it's not perfect either.

  • There is a mirror in spanish:

    Hay un espejo en español:

    http://www.usm.edu.ec/~amadorm/index.php?p=217&c=1 [usm.edu.ec]

  • If only people would argue in the logical and objective demonstrated by this letter, rather than flaming on about the evils of MSFT. Amazing what it does to your level of credibility. Platform-zealots take note!
  • As an example, the condemnation by the Commercial Court of Nanterre, France, on 27th September 2001 of Microsoft Corp. to a penalty of 3 million francs in damages and interest, for violation of intellectual property (piracy, to use the unfortunate term that your firm commonly uses in its publicity).

    What was this about?

    • (What did we do before google? ;)

      http://www.pcworldmalta.com/specials/MSPiracy [pcworldmalta.com]

      PARIS (11/28/2001) - The French subsidiary of one of the world's most vocal opponents of software piracy has itself been convicted of pirating a French 3D animation program. This is the first ruling on a matter that dates back to 1995, when Microsoft Corp. bought Softimage, a 3D computer-generated image (CGI) specialist whose software violated the intellectual property of a small French software house.

      The Commercial Court of Nanterre fined Microsoft France 3 million francs (US$422,000) in damage and interest for software piracy. "It's a start," said a lawyer for the plaintiffs, "although Microsoft continues to stall on the provisional execution of the judgment."

  • I've read a bit of the Federalist Papers (okay, it was just Alexander Hamilton's brilliant first paper... it goes downhill as soon as you get to John Jay's first writing) and of course we've all read the Declaration of Independence and other such great documents. And this reads like one of those documents. This guy could give lessons in what being a Democratic and Free state really means to the US Government. In fact, I think this letter should be required reading for all US Government officials.

    I'd even go as far as to say we should begin a letter-writing campaign to mail copies of this to our congress-critters, to the White House, and to the national news media.

    I'm going to put this on my TODO: list. I am going to draft a letter with these contents, and mail them to the people who represent me.

    As the submitter said, "All that is required for Evil to triumph is that good men do nothing." I may not be a perfectly good man, but I'm going to do SOMETHING!
    • by browser_war_pow ( 100778 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @04:06PM (#3472199) Homepage
      The American system is not a democracy. It is a constitutional republic. A democracy, if you attach meaning to terms, is a system of unlimited majority rule; the classic example is ancient Athens. And the symbol of it is the fate of Socrates, who was put to death legally, because the majority didn't like what he was saying, although he had initiated no force and had violated no one's rights.

      Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom....

      The American system is a constitutionally limited republic, restricted to the protectrion of individual rights. In such a system, majority rule is applicable only to lesser details, such as the selection of certain personnel. But the majority has no say over the basic principles governing the government. It has no power to ask for or gain the infringement of individual rights.

      --Leonard Peikfoff
      • Fucking hell THANK YOU!

        If I hear someone else spout off that we (at least in the US) live in a democracy one more time, I'm going postal.

        IS this what government schools teach kids nowadays?

        My all time favorite quote, which ties into your last sentance is by Thomas Jefferson. I swear to god if our current politicians would learn this (as well as some of the basic of the constitution) the US would "get it"

        The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
        -- Thomas Jefferson

        Then again I'm also one of those guys who think the Federalist Papers should be required reading.
  • by eyefish ( 324893 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @03:05PM (#3471653)
    I'm contemplating the following after reading the AMAZING article: If I'm a U.S. citizen, can I sue the government for not allowing me full access to the source code of the programs that handle all my data?

    Like the letter sent back to Microsoft says: how will I know that the software being used to count votes or calculate my taxes is working as it should if I don't have full access to the system running it???

    I figure that anyone who takes this matter to court, and ultimately to the supreme court has a good chance at winning the case, which could eventually force congress/senate to pass a bill mandating open-source software to be used for all govergment affairs.

    Any lawyers here have any comments on this?

    Side note: I have to admit that this letter sent from this peruvian guy to Microsoft is one of the most amazing and clear documents I have read this year. This should be published by the Free Software Foundation and send copies to all law makers in all countries of the world (for real).
    • If I'm a U.S. citizen, can I sue the government for not allowing me full access to the source code of the programs that handle all my data?
      It depends. The vast majority of software I wrote was for the DoD. Even though we used no classified data in our software, releasing the source code for, say, how a radar jammer hops from technique to technique would be a very bad thing. Obviously, the software that we wrote that did use classified data would not be released either for much more obvious reasons.

      • OK, there is good reason for not releasing the source for military applications. But how about the social security administration's data processing codes (not the data, but the programs used to process it)? Or the IRS's code, aside from the algorithms used to spot cheaters? A little sunlight here 10 years ago might well have avoided the mess their data centers are in now...
    • No. (Score:3, Interesting)

      You may not sue the Federal government. It's in the consitution.
  • Repeat or not, this Congressman is still my hero!

    Nice rebuttle!
  • by bryanbrunton ( 262081 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @03:06PM (#3471660)

    Just lay off the editors. They've got other things to do like spending working day after working day in front of their playstations. They are also responsible for planning and resourcing trips to the movie theatre. You think that the deep and insightful movie reviews that we are lucky enough to find here just appear out of thin air?

    We should be thankful that they're busy schedules allow any resources at all to be devoted to posting and researching these stories. Who can honestly say that its humanly possible for any of them to pay attention to what was posted only 24 to 48 hours ago? Any of us would surely make the same mistakes after our 10th hour of redbulled fueled Final Fantasy.

    And don't you dare mention any thing like a review period or even the most simplistic of approval mechanisms for their postings. Because you would then clearly be in league with the RIAA, BillG, (or insert favorite techno-nazi here) and denying them their right to post whatever they want when they want.
  • I don't know if this letter is authentic or not, but it certianly had me rolling on the floor laughing -- not for any of the congressman's points, but for the manner in which he delivered them.
    "I would like to thank the honorable gentleman for all of the excellent points he has made, and for the great deal of thought he has put into them. I response, I would like to politely bring to light a few small counterexamples, and use them to club the honorable gentleman over the head until all that is left of him is a pool of quivering jello."

    If only the rest of us could craf our responses with such finesse...

  • Brilliant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @03:29PM (#3471874)
    With free software one creates more technically qualified employment and a framework of free competence

    This statement alone should form the basis for many kinds of IT decisions, not just purchasing. Absolute brilliance.

    where success is only tied to the ability to offer good technical support and quality of service, one stimulates the market, and one increases the shared fund of knowledge, opening up alternatives to generate services of greater total value and a higher quality level, to the benefit of all involved: producers, service organizations, and consumers.

    Hear, hear. Stating that a smarter, better informed "consumer" is a better served consumer is profound in its simplicity, and it neatly states an irrefutable argument that I think developers and admins have been trying to put into words for decades.
  • by GMFTatsujin ( 239569 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @03:32PM (#3471897) Homepage
    If the transnational software companies decide not to compete under these new rules of the game, it is likely that they will undergo some decrease in takings in terms of payment for licences; however, considering that these firms continue to allege that much of the software used by the State has been illegally copied, one can see that the impact will not be very serious.
    Congratulations, Peru! Piracy problem solved. I applaud you all. Basically he's just said, "OK Redmond, you don't have to worry about auditing us - EVER AGAIN - and you haven't lost one red cent." Brilliant.

    Now if we can just do the same for open-source music, the RIAA will have no reason to bitch either.

    Well, I mean, they'd have a reason to bitch, but only because the potential money source that they call "stolen revenues" -- don't even get me started -- will have gone away forever. Sounds equatible to me.

  • Gates: I'm the richest man on Earth, made all my money from the software business, and I'm asking you all to acquire or develop software in such a way as to make me, an *American*, even richer.

    Peru: Riiiiiiiiiiight.

  • by Mr_Bethesda ( 578085 ) <mr_bethesda@yahoOPENBSDo.com minus bsd> on Monday May 06, 2002 @03:42PM (#3472001)
    Some fact-checking shows the following:

    Congressman Edgar David Villanueva Nunez (www.congreso.gob.pe/congresista/2001/evillanueva. htm) is a real member of the Congress. His email is evillanueva@congreso.gob.pe.

    If you go to the page mentioned above, you will see some pictures/buttons at the top left. Click the one that shows some fingers holding a pen ('Proyectos de ley presentados'/Projects). He apparently introduced 25 pieces of legislation in the First Session in 2001, and 7 during the Second Session.

    During the First Session, he introduced Bill 1609, 'Software Libre' (Free Software). It was sent to two Committees on 7 January 2002: Education, Science, & Technology, and to Consumer Protection and Public Services Regulation.

    He introduced a similar bill in the Second Session, number 2485, 'Use of Free Software by the Public Administration.' As of 12 April 2002, it is in the same Committees as the first bill (1609).

    I would post both Bills here, but a) they are looong, and 2) they are en espanol. So, if you want to read them.....the full text of both Bills are available through Congressman Villanueva Nunez's page.

    Happy babelfishing!
  • by rediguana ( 104664 ) on Monday May 06, 2002 @03:47PM (#3472040)
    In NZ, we have a law firm taking Microsoft to the commerce commission for issues related to Software Assurance. He has writen a very nice brief outlining many of the issues, and it is well worth a read. Click here [clendons.co.nz] to read more. There are links to various letters and news articles covering this issue.

    One big point that the Commerce Commission raised, is that if SA is such a big issue, why aren't bigger companies and countries picking it up?!
  • Contrast this letter with the Oricle/Gray Davis scandal in CA. The Davis administration purchased $40mil worth of software for state employees who don't exist in exchange two weeks later for a $16,0000 donation to Davis' campaign. Hmmmm. No conflict of interest here! Move along!

    And now that a state investigation is looking into the matter, Davis has re-staffed the committee with his political allies! Sweet! Does anybody remember Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre?" Deja Vu?

    Or there's Senior Juan Gonzalez, who besides making good coffee, actually looks out for the public good. Senior Gonzalez could have likely arranged a fat little campaign contribution from Micro$oft, but instead has told them in 10 pages that they are full of it.

    I wish I could vote for this guy.

    Not only does he understand the free software movement, he represents his people. When is the last time YOU felt like the people you voted for looked out for you?

    My last thought on this is if Europe starts passing lots of stupid DMCA style laws, Peru would be a damn good home for the Free Software movement.

    • Pardon the typo. It should read $16,000.
  • Interesting how MS is all of a sudden concerned about non-competitive practices, isn't it?
  • "This influence of marketing is in large measure reduced by the bill that we are backing, since the choice within the framework proposed is based on the *technical merits* of the product and not on the effort put into commercialization by the producer; in this sense, competitvity is increased, since the smallest software producer can compete on equal terms with the most powerful corporations."

    I want to have his manbabies.
  • - We need to get doctors in congress like that one.

    - Democracy is a form of do-it-yourself open source by the people.

    - If history has shown anything, the OS wars are following similar lines as other tragic events in history:
    Starting with Microsoft rejecting the feasability of open source:
    1) Totalitarian govermnents that reject the existence of neighboring nations, usually in an attempt to acquire them.
    2) Regimes that descriminate between their people, implying that some are citizens while others have no rights.
    3) Large religions that have no tolerance over beliefs that appear to challenge their ways. These beliefs could be alternate religions, political opionions, or even scientific discoveries. The imposing religions make statements that the "non-believers" are damned. They associate elements of the others with their own fictional evil elements to the point that "acknowledging a hell implies acceptance of the oppressor's religion". They actively proselytize (convert), persecute, excommunicate, interrogate, censor, to further their own unknown agendas. This also includes denying the existence of the other beliefs.

    Bad things happen when you trust the wrong people.
  • The letter makes points that I hadn't considered before, especially about the importance of government records being in open formats. This is so convincing that I'm going to draft a letter to my representatives immediately, encouraging such a bill.

    But my main point is that the letter is just beautiful, even in translation; I really wish I read Spanish well enough to be able to read the original, because it must be wonderful. My favorite, by far:

    To continue; you note that:" 2. The bill, by making the use of open source software compulsory, would establish discriminatory and non competitive practices in the contracting and purchasing by public bodies..."

    This statement is just a reiteration of the previous one, and so the response can be found above. However, let us concern ourselves for a moment with your comment regarding "non-competitive practices..."


"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."