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UN Summit Tones Down Open-Source Stance 147

akb writes "CBR is reporting that the latest draft of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Plan of Action has considerably removed language that promoted open source awareness, the creation of intellectual property mechanisms supporting open source and the creation of a UN 'Programmers Without Frontiers' body to support open source software in developing nations. This language was removed from earlier versions to make the document more palatable for business and commercial interests. In recent years commercial software interests, notably Microsoft, have lobbied hard to keep governments from openly preferring open source over proprietary software. Other issues to be debated include the archiving of and access to government information, access to wireless spectrum, government subsidies of Internet access, Internet taxes and international cooperation on information security."
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UN Summit Tones Down Open-Source Stance

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04, 2003 @12:58PM (#7132897)
    What do they mean, they are refusing to establish a bureaucracy to promote open source, even though this is clearly an essential mission for the UN! This cannot be tolerated, not any longer at alll!!
    • I lobbied them to leave in the clause forcing users of Open Source Software to give up their first-born son to Linus Torvalds.

      Unfortunately, I dont think it will be left in. Sigh...

    • Well, it is a fact that Government is bad in promoting technological change. however, they may cause harm. Just think of software patents as an example. In the EU Microsoft affiliated groups created the "European Internet Foundation". The EIF [eif-online.org] is a club of MEPs with "breakfast dirtector jobs" financed by BSA and other industry groups.

      "Board of Govenors 12 political members Board of Management 12 "Board of Governors" 6 "Business Steering Committee" 4 Observers(Associate Members)2 Note: all of these are MEP's
      • Bob Goodlatte ------------- Top Contributors 1 Intel Corp $10,000 1 National Auto Dealers Assn $10,000 3 BellSouth Corp $8,000 3 Microsoft Corp $8,000 5 Siebel Systems $7,500 6 National Assn of Realtors $7,000 6 SBC Communications $7,000 8 Walt Disney Co $6,000 9 Wal-Mart Stores $5,250 10 Echostar Communications $5,000 10 Limited Inc $5,000 10 Northrop Grumman $5,000 13 Pilgrim's Pride Corp $4,700 14 Verizon Communications $4,500 15 Smithfield Foods $4,000 16 Adams Construction $3,000 16 ASCAP $3,000 16 Ba
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @12:58PM (#7132898) Homepage Journal
    The new wording is a masterpiece of fake balance. (Do they have Fox News writing their drafts for them?)
    In the new draft, these are replaced with a more general description of how governments should "promote awareness among all stakeholders of the possibilities offered by different software models... including proprietary, open-source and free software".
    Um, no. Proprietary software vendors do just fine "promoting awareness" of their products on their own. If governments give equal weight to proprietary and free/OSS, in practice that means that governments will be shilling for M$ just as hard as M$'s own PR dept., and free/OSS providers will be out in the cold. I suspect this will be especially true in poor countries -- the ones who would benefit most from a push for free/OSS -- because, let's face it, that's where government workers are most susceptible to outright bribery.

    Too bad. It was a nice idea while it lasted.
    • Fortunately some countries rich/poor are starting to implement the free/OSS model. Some are doing it for political reasons, other for economical reasons, but by doing so it will put more "pressure" on the poor countries's corrupt decision makers when they will have to account for the zillions spent on purchassing crrapy software when they could just opt for the free/OSS model like the "civilized" world.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The unique advantage to open source is that it's much more difficult to squash out than an existing vendor, who may be destroyed by 'cutting the air supply'. Propably the only way to remove OSS from the landscape is changing laws, locking out using legal means (patents) etc., which is hard. So, OSS product, if viable will propably last until commercial competitors will be squashed -- pretty much like Microsoft, who gained many markets by constantly pushing competitors over many years. Is MS able to lobby fo
    • by Anonymous Coward
      poor countries -- the ones who would benefit most from a push for free/OSS

      Poor countries need paying jobs created. It's relatively easy to pay the bills writing proprietary software. It's relatively hard to pay the bills writing Open Source software.

      First thing's first. Paying jobs. Americans/Canadians/Europeans have the luxury of taking a chance and coding up Open Source for the morality of it. But in other places, food on the table comes first. Closed software puts food on the table -easier-. I p
      • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @02:43PM (#7133425)


        First thing's first. Paying jobs. Americans/Canadians/Europeans have the luxury of taking a chance and coding up Open Source for the morality of it. But in other places, food on the table comes first. Closed software puts food on the table -easier-.


        Exactly. Because all the jobs for writing that proprietary code are created in the developing country in question. By using a proprietary software package, you are esentially paying coders in your own developing tech job market.

        Oh. Wait. No. Most of this development happens off-shore. If your countrymen are being hired to code for these projects, they had to emegrate first to do it - further weaking your own tech market.

        • Exactly. Because all the jobs for writing that proprietary code are created in the developing country in question. By using a proprietary software package, you are esentially paying coders in your own developing tech job market.

          If someone is being paid to code (or to modify existing code) it really dosn't matter if they are dealing with proprietary or OSS software.

          Oh. Wait. No. Most of this development happens off-shore. If your countrymen are being hired to code for these projects, they had to emegrate
      • Poor countries need paying jobs created.

        No. Poor countries need increased production of things that have value. In the industrial age, there was a strong correspondence between production and labor, so you could get away with that type of sloppy thinking. But nowdays, you can recycle someone else's labor (reuse a software product that someone else already paid to create, e.g. Apache, Linux, Python, etc).

        This is efficient and good.

        Closed software puts food on the table -easier-.

        Free Software means

      • First of all, if there is already existing opensorce software to do what they need to do then why should they spend a single cent on anything? So the only thing to consider is when they want something not already available in open source.

        So the situation is that they HAVE to pay to get software, one way or another.

        Poor countries need paying jobs created.

        How does buying foriegn closed source software help them create jobs? Or are you suggesting that 100 poor coutries pay 100 different local companies to
        • First of all, if there is already existing opensorce software to do what they need to do then why should they spend a single cent on anything? So the only thing to consider is when they want something not already available in open source.

          In which case you only need to write/alter the bits which don't already exist. The most obvious would be translating into local language/dialect. Which is something best done by natives anyway.

          They have to pay someone for what they need. Why shouldn't they create local
    • I suspect this will be especially true in poor countries

      These poor countries, are these the same countries where people actualy believe that Microsoft's Windows XP costs $5.00 and $199.00 is twice the meadian anual per capita income?
    • by egarland ( 120202 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @02:40PM (#7133410)
      The problem here is not just one of marketing. They have spread the idea that the BSA and Microsoft have been cramming down everyone's throats, that software should be evaluated on the merits of the product, ignoring the merits of the system involved in crating the product. This is like a construction company insisting that when a building project goes out to bid the only thing evaluated are price and the size of the building created with no constraints on the construction methods used, safety, environmental impact, or maintainability. They want eliminate concideration of evaluation criteria where they inevitably lose. The software companies are doing the equivalent of building the building in such a way that only they can repair it when it fails and ensuring that it will fail over time and when it does, they insist that it can't be repaired, it needs to be torn down and rebuilt. This is not the right model for infrastructure.

      Software companies are afraid that governments are going to start to realize they have done the equivalent of paying a company to build their roads while giving them the rights to put tollbooths wherever they want. It's ridiculous. There is a lot of infrastructure software out there (operating systems, relational databases, office suites, etc.) that have been paid for 100 times over by governments and they still don't own them.
      • I think your analogy doesn't quite work... The point is Governments should evaluate a software on its merit... Were they evaluating a building on its merit they'd include things like safety and environmental impact in the evaluation.

        It shouldn't matter whether the building was built by volunteers or by a private construction firm, all that matters is which building is better. The same applies to software. When looking at software, Governments should evaluate based on TCO, reliability, maintainability, and
        • The point is Governments should evaluate a software on its merit

          Yes. The point here is that they are fighting laws that do direct the consideration of merits.

          The laws and draft laws that they are opposing generally say to give prefference to a products that comes with the ability for the government to modify it. This means the government is able to fix it themselves, they can improve it themselves, the data never get lost in an unreadable format, and there is no danger if the seller goes out of business
        • Writing the Plan of Action to insist that they automatically prefer OSS over Proprietary software is as silly as writing it to automatically prefer proprietary over OSS.

          This is not true. From the customer's standpoint maintainability of closed source software is necessarily worse than that of open source software because only the company that owns the source is allowed to modify it. Also the software owners aren't required to make modifications you want if they don't want to. For example, if my organi
        • When looking at software, Governments should evaluate based on TCO, reliability, maintainability, and usability.

          For several of these the difference between OSS and proprietary software is relevent.

          Usability unfortunately is the most important for most users and unfortunately is not the most important goal for most OSS software I've used.

          Plenty of software is poor when it comes to usability. Difference is that OSS can be fixed, with proprietary software you are dependent of the original supplier for an
      • The problem here is not just one of marketing. They have spread the idea that the BSA and Microsoft have been cramming down everyone's throats, that software should be evaluated on the merits of the product, ignoring the merits of the system involved in crating the product.

        Except that if software was evaluated on its merits then in plenty of cases open source software would be chosen over proprietary software. Also involved here is the idea that a "name" gives some sort of support. Even though proprietary
    • by villoks ( 27306 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @07:33PM (#7134745) Homepage Journal
      Hmp,

      I was there and was able to follow the process very closely.. The text is a compromize, which was negotiated between US, EU and Canada (and some African countries). It was actually first intented only for the action line section but was later used for the draft declaration because a compromize was needed. Even this was a hard fight because certain big country wanted first to remove all references to open source and free software based on "technological neutrality princeple" (a very hot buzzword at WSIS.)

      Another thing: it is good to remember that the biggest Open Source companies are nowadays IBM, HP Oracle etc. which really have enough marketing muscle to fight against Microsoft in all fronts (expect in the US Department of Trade..)and in thus govermental intervetions are no longer needed.

      Ville
  • by Illissius ( 694708 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @12:59PM (#7132905)
    Open source software is a means and not an end, so if better/more cost-effective software can be created through commercial means, then it doesn't at all matter whether or not a competing, inferior product was created through open source. That said, the way things currently stand, there are precious few areas where commercial software has the advantage (off the top of my head, these are games, Mac OS X, and Opera).
    • by domninus.DDR ( 582538 ) <domninus@hotmail.com> on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:16PM (#7132998) Homepage
      It is interesting to note that of the few things you named you included OS X. Interesting because it is BSD based.
      • Yes, but FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD are not OS X. The value added is proprietary. Not to mention, even the core of the OS is very much similar to Next as well as BSD.
      • It is interesting to note that of the few things you named you included OS X. Interesting because it is BSD based.

        It doesn't have /etc/fstab and socklen_t, and other misfeatures cause endless troubles for developers. If I want my software to compile out of the box on MacOS X, I'd have to add special compatibility hacks using autoconf (for problems like lack of socklen_t). This is ridiculous for a system which is so young.
    • The point is that openness and freedom are essential to properly running a government. Free software is the only means that provides that end. If you have your data tied up in proprietary formats that you can only access with proprietary software you are controlled by your vendor. This is not acceptable for governments.
      • The point is that openness and freedom are essential to properly running a government. Free software is the only means that provides that end. If you have your data tied up in proprietary formats that you can only access with proprietary software you are controlled by your vendor. This is not acceptable for governments.

        If this is a foreign owned proprietary software vendor and the alarm labelled "National Security" isn't going off, then something is seriously wrong.
    • I used to work in a cGMP compliant lab. One of the big issues was the verification of all software tools used for data analysis. The best method of verification is of course, to audit the source code. This was not possible when applied to spreadsheet and other closed source software. As a result we had to WASTE YEARS OF OUR TIME CALCULATING THAT SHIT BY HAND!

      Once we had verified that we had a large enough data sample that showed the software performed accuratly, then we could trust it.

      Open source tools w

    • Open source software is a means and not an end .

      I might agree on that: software (open or proprietary) is a means, not an end.
      But, free software is an end: it means an enrichment of the body of public and freely available knowledge by adding to it valuable software packages(which are basically detailed knowledge formalised in a computer language).
      And the existence of a rich body of freely available knowledge is vital for any modern society (what if math and physics were IP-protected? ).

      Therefore, c

    • Open source software is a means and not an end, so if better/more cost-effective software can be created through commercial means, then it doesn't at all matter whether or not a competing, inferior product was created through open source. That said, the way things currently stand, there are precious few areas where commercial software has the advantage (off the top of my head, these are games, Mac OS X, and Opera).

      Open source does not equate to non/anti-commercial. It works best within a tertiary business
  • Goes to show.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 )

    Most of the world has the best politicians money can buy.
  • China
    Fueld by Windows Small Buisness Server 2005

    bleh.

  • by Davak ( 526912 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:00PM (#7132914) Homepage
    This, of course, is due to lobbying from Microsoft. Lobbying works.

    However, I am not sure that we all believe that open source software is perfect for every single situation. Even if you do believe this, I am not sure that it should be the stance of the UN.

    "Business has consistently stated that it is essential for governments to ensure technologically neutral policy towards different software models," said the delegate from the business lobby, during the conference debate.

    I just don't see how you can't agree with this. Open source deserves the freedom to grow and expand for its benefits. However, closed source software should not be punished in the market.

    Closed and opened source software provides jobs and services for an ass load of people. The UN should treat them equally and fairly.

    Davak
    • Of course.

      But closed source software is not punished in the market. Closed sourse software is substantially favored. In the US it occurs in part because some closed source vendors have what amounts to monopolies that close out other alternatives (not just Microsoft). In part it occurs because the vendors who make money advertise heavily, subsidize use of their software in education and otherwise make their products almost impossible to ignore. In part its because vendors indulge in FUD campaigns. In

      • "But closed source software is not punished in the market. Closed source software is substantially favored."

        I keep reading these posts where people keep saying "let's be fair" and "it's not right to exclude commercial software". Well guess what. That's exactly what has been happening to OpenSource Software for years now. Inferior closed source commercial software has dominated the scene to too long and its time we get to take a shot. What so some "inferior" opensource software gets promoted just because it
    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:24PM (#7133042)


      > Closed and opened source software provides jobs and services for an ass load of people. The UN should treat them equally and fairly.

      For commonly used software this provision of jobs increasingly depends on artificial barriers to the acceptance of free alternatives. Now that millions of people are programmers with supercomputers on their desks and an itch to scratch, and now that the cost of software distribution is approximately zero, the unconstrained market value of a line of code for a commonly used application is rapidly converging to zero.

      The anti-FOSS lobbying is merely an example of the artificial barriers that prop of the prices and keep all those people employed. (Though I doubt that there are actually that many people earning their living by programming operating systems, Web browsers, and word processors these days. In the future the way to make money as a programmer will be to implement special-purpose applications that only scratch the itch of some company's shareholders.)

    • > The UN should treat them equally and fairly.
      No! UN is supposed to be a democratic institution and any democratic institution should promote transperancy and openness in all levels including governance. Proprietory softwares are exactly against this philosophy. They are not transperant and hence there is no point in UN treating them equal with open source.
    • Business has consistently stated that it is essential for governments to ensure technologically neutral policy towards different software models.

      Do you honestly think that Redhat said that? Or may be Microsoft and alike said that the governments should be technologicallt neutral (i.e. preserve the status quo)? Open source doesn't involve spending a lot of marketing and PR, that's why the competition with closed-source is not fair. And that is why governments should do something to raise the awareness of t
      • So you want government funded advertising for open source? How would you rationalize that? You want to raise taxes on everyone to fund these advertising campaigns?

        Sorry, it is not the government's (at least the USA government) job to advertise products of any type, nor would I want it to be.

        And yes, raising awareness of a product is advertising.

        OSS typically advertises by word of mouth. If that's not enough to keep it going and other methods that the projects employ do not work either, it should die a
        • Markets are not the solution for everything. Governments should intervene when they spot a deficiency. To me raising awareness of FOSS clearly is a such case, especially because a significant part of the closed-source industry is dominated by the monopolistic moster, whose name should not be said. :) If we had a very free and open market, it might work without government or UN involvement. But there are no chances that open source (Linux in particular) can spend as much as MS on advertising. MS is a monopol
    • Closed and opened source software provides jobs and services for an ass load of people. The UN should treat them equally and fairly.

      So are you calling for a level playing field? If so, maybe they'd be better off drawing up giudelines based upon criteria other than licencing terms.

      Price, or example, would seem a valid consideration. Corporations make descisions based on price internally all the time. That's not just cost of software - there's forced hardware upgrades, subscription based licences, a

    • What I cannot imagine is why a government would opt for closed source software. Since we know that obscurity is not security, especially not in the case of mainstream commercial software (witness Half-Life 2) and the government generally has the means to define standards. If they say they'll only do it one way, then everyone else will do it their way. Tax forms, for example... So they don't even ened to support proprietary file formats if they don't want to. And wouldn't you like to have all the source? Bet
  • Lobbying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by simgod ( 563459 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:01PM (#7132921)
    I guess if it were a resolution USA would just veto it like all those that told Isreal to respect international law (around 30).
  • by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@politrix . o rg> on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:02PM (#7132931) Homepage Journal

    Also note that a Massachusetts official makes mention of 'Open Source Overstatements' too. Could be people don't want to be hassled by the thought on instability due to SCO's antics regarding their lawsuits. Maybe people are starting to wonder whether it's going to cost them more in the long run or something...

    A senior state official said Friday that reports about a planned shift to open source software platforms by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were inaccurate and that the state has no "Freeware Initiative," as stated by a number of software industry lobbying groups opposed to the

    Eric Kriss, the state's secretary for administration and finance, said that statements released by groups like the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), based in Washington D.C., were "very inaccurate." The state is simply considering ways to integrate disparate systems using open standards such as HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), XML (Extensible Markup Language) and Java, he said.

    Reports about a plan to favor open source platforms like Linux over proprietary software platforms surfaced in the media last week and claimed that state Chief Information Officer Peter Quinn was instituting a "Freeware Initiative" to invest in open source software such as Linux whenever possible. Those reports followed a leaked memo from Kriss to Quinn, Kriss said.

    etc... etc... etc... ful article [kungfunix.net]

    • Could be people don't want to be hassled by the thought on instability due to SCO's antics regarding their lawsuits. Maybe people are starting to wonder whether it's going to cost them more in the long run or something...

      Oh, hell.....Here's a scary thought. What if Microsoft is underwriting, supporting or even directing SCO in their attacks on Linux and other *NIX? SCO stance plays right into the Microsoft playbook of the past few years.

      Probably not the case, but......what if.......?
      • Here's a scary thought. What if Microsoft is underwriting, supporting or even directing SCO in their attacks on Linux and other *NIX?

        Okay, I'll play the "straight man" :-)

        So how would Microsoft channel all that money into SCO to keep them going? And it's not like some mystery people are bidding up the price of SCO stock just so the SCO executives can sell their shares for much more than they are really worth...

        Okay, your turn :-)
        • Okay, I'll play the "straight man" :-)

          I was really only joking......well, perhaps partially. :-) But I will be happy to field your questions.

          So how would Microsoft channel all that money into SCO to keep them going?

          Microsoft is worth how many Billions? It would take perhaps 5-6 million to prop up SCO to this point, much of that would be returnable. That much money in terms of investments for a company the size of Microsoft is nothing.

          And it's not like some mystery people are bidding up the price
        • > So how would Microsoft channel all that money into SCO
          > to keep them going?

          Buy a UNIX software licence, in spite of not shipping a UNIX or Linux product. License some patent for an 'undisclosed fee'. (One leaked report put this at an initial payment of 10 million US dollars.) Done as of May 19. 2003.

          The hand in the sock puppet:

          http://www.crn.com/sections/BreakingNews/dailyar ch ives.asp?ArticleID=43532
        • "So how would Microsoft channel all that money into SCO to keep them going?"

          Well, what they've done so far is buy overpriced short term licences from SCO. This was a significant portion of SCO's revenue last quarter.
        • So how would Microsoft channel all that money into SCO

          That sould be in the past tense. How DID Microsoft channel all that money into SCO. It is all spelled out in legally required stock filings by SCO. There's a PDF of it online somewhere.

          Microsoft paid SCO (roughly) $8 million upfront, plus an another $5 million to be paid over the next 3 or 4 quarters. The deal also includes an option for Microsoft to simply hand SCO more money at will (an undisclosed amout) if Microsoft decides they "need" additional


    • Maybe people are starting to wonder whether it's going to cost them more in the long run or something...


      Or maybe officials have better things to do than get hastled by lobyists pushing the existing status quo (namely the so-called CCAGW and Initiative for Software Choice).
  • I don't get it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JayBlalock ( 635935 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:03PM (#7132937)
    Even Microsoft doesn't have the resources to buy off entire world governments. (they spend too much keeping the US bought.) Why would presumably rational delegates and senators pay much heed to a single company advocating change in treaty\declaration language which obviously has no purpose EXCEPT to benefit that single company? Especially one whose lack of product security and general badness have become world reknown even in non-techie circles.

    There's gotta be something else going on...

    • Why would presumably rational delegates and senators pay much heed to a single company ... which obviously has no purpose EXCEPT to benefit that single company?

      Oh, I'm quite sure it's money money money, or promise of. Human and corporate greed is one of the biggest sources of irrational decisions here, it seems.
    • Re:I don't get it... (Score:3, Informative)

      by akb ( 39826 )
      Buying world governments is probably cheaper than buying the US government. And sometimes not even necessary because if you buy the USG you often get the rest of the world thrown in for free. What a bargain!

      Seriously, the office of the US Trade Rep is exceedingly efficient at throwing weight around to get developing countries to toe the line on trade issues.

      Microsoft has been doing this for a long time, like back in '98 when they got Sri Lanka to change their IP laws to be more friendly. Ballmer and Ga
    • by Bunji X ( 444592 )
      Well, politicians are not that aware of differences in the software market. They might have heard bad things about proprietary software (ms security), but also bad things about OSS (sco might own linux). Then they base their decisions on what their advisors tell them is the reasonable thing to do, combined with what they have heard/researched for themselves.

      Enter, lobbyists. These guys actively hands out information that support their case. Corporations, having lots of money, can hire professional lobbyis
    • Believe me ... I follow WSIS closely ... watch the streaming video of the latest preparation meetings at the WSIS website http://www.itu.int/wsis/

      You have no idea how idiotic these people are when it comes to technology. They are all diplomacy bureaucrats (i.e. incompetent).
    • Commercial companies don't 'buy off governments.' They cut them in. There's a profound difference between these two concepts.
      • Commercial companies don't 'buy off governments.' They cut them in. There's a profound difference between these two concepts.

        And that difference would be... what, exactly?

        Seriously, it's like the tax breaks the US government gives major corporations. If a corporation doesn't pay $1M in taxes, that's like the government giving them $1M. It's corporate welfare. And if a company gives the US Government money, and expects something in return (like, being represented as a special interest in international
  • Papa knows best..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:04PM (#7132939) Homepage Journal
    In recent years commercial software interests, notably Microsoft, have lobbied hard to keep governments from openly preferring open source over proprietary software.

    But Microsoft knows what's best for us right? :-)

    Seriously though, a little lobbying is just fine in my book as long as that lobbying is truly an education of lawmakers on the issues and solutions to problems. The problem becomes when individual companies have such power and control as to dominate the lobbying process with money and resources so as to eclipse all other concerns.

    So, when the article states "Business has consistently stated that it is essential for governments to ensure technologically neutral policy towards different software models," said the delegate from the business lobby, during the conference debate." I find it disturbing that removal of open source materials is allowed from the "business lobby". This argument is then followed by this statement "Governments cannot know, case-by-case, what software solution is best for every user," she said, urging the deletion of the open-source provisions. "Each user should be allowed to make a choice that meets their individual needs." which makes absolutely no sense and again argues that Microsoft knows what's best for me and my government.

    Microsoft does not have governments best interest in mind when they say this. Rather they have their own best interest in mind by making these illogical arguments, and I suppose that these arguments could be interpreted and taken at face value, but then backfire upon Microsoft when governments say "enough of the security problems, virii and worms and associated costs associated with Microsoft, we're going with Apple computer".

    • Seriously though, a little lobbying is just fine in my book as long as that lobbying is truly an education of lawmakers on the issues and solutions to problems. The problem becomes when individual companies have such power and control as to dominate the lobbying process with money and resources so as to eclipse all other concerns.

      I agree with you, if lobbying was just people attempting to talk to, inform, and educate etc lawmakers about whatever than I would have no problem with lobbying. However, I b
    • Seriously though, a little lobbying is just fine in my book as long as that lobbying is truly an education of lawmakers on the issues and solutions to problems. The problem becomes when individual companies have such power and control as to dominate the lobbying process with money and resources so as to eclipse all other concerns.

      Lobbying is just one facet of the plutocracy that is modern America, where everyone is equally entitled to all the democracy money can buy. Any semblance of truth or justice is lon

      • I agree what your saying (as I believe my post above will indicate) but I wanted to know if you thought the mass emailing/faxing/phone calls etc that are organized online by places like moveon.org, commoncause.org, hrw.org, etc. Are those actions (the mass emails faxes and what not) a form of lobbying?

        Reason I ask is because I'm still not sure if this is lobbying or something different, and I just wanted to see what other people though.

        One thing I am sure about however, is that if movements online th
    • enough of the security problems, virii and worms and associated costs associated with Microsoft, we're going with Apple computer

      What's worse than finding a worm in an Apple?

      Finding half a worm in an Apple.

      -
  • Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by illuminata ( 668963 )
    The government really needs to stay out of promoting things one way or the other. Let things handle themselves. The U.N. shouldn't be forcing people to be aware of open source nor should they be trying to write mechanisms supporting it, they should be trying to solve real problems at hand (albeit I don't like a massive government body like the U.N.).

    Like it or not, open source software isn't always the best choice. Why not try using the best software for the job, open sourced or not? Purchasing software is
    • Is the action of nature not unlike drawing a bow?
      What is higher is pulled down, and what is lower is raised up;
      What is taller is shortened, and what is thinner is broadened;
      Nature's motion decreases those who have more than they need
      And increases those who need more than they have.

      It is not so with Man.
      Man decreases those who need more than they have
      And increases those who have more than they need.

      To give away what you do not need is to follow the Way.
      So the sage gives without expectation,
      Accomp

    • Re:Good (Score:1, Troll)

      by danila ( 69889 )
      The government really needs to stay out of promoting things one way or the other. Let things handle themselves. The U.N. shouldn't be forcing people to be aware of AIDS nor should they be trying to write mechanisms fighting it, they should be trying to solve real problems at hand (any ideas what these might be?).

      Like it or not, anti-AIDS drugs aren't always the best choice. Why not try doing something else, like asking people to abstain from sex while we put our heads in the sand? Chastity isn't evil.
      • Wow, you really are trying to twist a statement into something extreme aren't you? It should be apparent that what I wrote wasn't intended for every single thing under the sun. I really wish that people would see things as they are obviously meant rather than being miserable pricks and contorting what people say.

        If you ask me, AIDS education is far more important. They should learn that sleeping with virgins won't cure the disease (and please, don't try to imply that message is intended for all people, but
        • I have nothing against private sector. :) Of course, while the FOSS communication policy should have been be designed in the UN, actual communicating should have been done by private marketing and PR firms. No doubt about this. As for funding, markets are very far from perfect in this regard, because of how fundrasing works. People are irrational, that's why they will give their money to the charity with the best promotional campaign, not to the charity with the rightest cause. Ergo free market is not very
    • The government really needs to stay out of promoting things one way or the other.
      However, while the government is being bought by commercial interests, and while the government does so much spending (on the military, infrastructure and bureaucracy), that isn't going to happen. Just by buying a huge system from one vendor, it promotes that vendor. Part of checks and balances is that the government should review the effects of such policies and purchasing, and inform its own procurement and policy staff wher
  • by Interruach ( 680347 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:05PM (#7132946) Journal
    They want to promote OSS and non-free software equally. Fair enough. The most important thing is open standards, at the end of the day if people want to spend money on something that they can't change that's up to them.
    I don't see how this will make a difference anyway. People have heard of linux, bsd, apache, mozilla, openoffice and so on. And once the word is out they'll give it a try. And once other people have tried and found success it becomes a viable option. No-body likes policies dictated from the top down: And even in places where they have a windows-only policy you can still find the occasional linux/*bsd box or mac.
    • by lenski ( 96498 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:20PM (#7133018)
      ...I cannot participate in my society unless I've paid some particular profit-motivated vendor for the privilege. I accept responsibilities like paying taxes, obeying laws, behaving in a civil way, etc. I do not accept for one second the idea that, after paying big big bucks in taxes, I get to pay yet more for high cost software to participate.

      My favorite example is government web sites that "work better with particular browsers associated with expensive desktop operating systems" and have subtle problems that interfere with my attempts to access them using the tools available on my engineering workstation.

  • by MattGWU ( 86623 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:15PM (#7132995)
    When business interests have such a large influance on a major international governance (policy? diplomacy?) body. It's clear enough that business has a great deal of pull in US domestic policy, and I'm sure the same is true to some extent in other countries, but now they can tell the *United Nations* what to do (alright...strongly suggest what to do)? Hope they don't get inflated heads over this.

    And no, this isn't the end of the world. This isn't the most important issue the UN is dealing with right now, and it certainly isn't time to 'welcome our new proprietary commercial software product masters'. However, it seems pretty clear that they had a plan going when they were going to look favorably on Open Source solutions for governments and developing nations, a position that was likely hatched internally. A position that was changed by outside pressure. Bet they thought it was a pretty good idea they had going!.

    This probably isn't one of those "Who is REALLY in charge" issues, but it makes one think. Then again, maybe it doesn't.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:18PM (#7133009)
    This is really a non issue. Keith Laumer got the right of the matter, Diplomats exist mainly to consume excess hors d'oeuvres. Programmers exist to turn cafeinated beverages into code.

    I love hearing that Munich or Massachussets, or Brazil has adopted open standadrs or open source but if they didn't that wouldn't matter either.

    Open source succeeds when and where it is better. The way for OSS to get better is for the people involved to concentrate on making it better.

    The Open Source movemnet existed long before the first Government Organization realized it was a good idea. If another government never decides to recogniza or adopt it, it won't miss a beat.

    What will hurt Open Source is corruption by organizations that don't get it and never will. The UN is inherently about compromise. The GPL is about take it or leave it. Theres not alot room for agreement there.
    • Open source succeeds when and where it is better.

      This is part of the problem. I don't want eternal lock-in with a monopoly, even if the products delivered by that monopoly are "better", and free software is "worse" (according to some arbitrary metric).

      Freedom is more important than advance of technology, and freedom requires choice.
    • Open source succeeds when and where it is better. The way for OSS to get better is for the people involved to concentrate on making it better.

      That's, of course, assuming that Open Standards are enforced. If 90% of Government documents are distributed in a closed, proprietary data format, and only a single company has the capability to write software that displays these document without glitches, then a better, more cost-effective solution still doesn't stand a chance. Closed standards distort the market a

  • WSIS? - WE SEIZE! (Score:5, Informative)

    by mykawhite ( 149348 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:22PM (#7133030) Homepage
    [This is circulating in the movement.]

    WSIS? WE SEIZE!

    Over the past months, activists and artists with different backgrounds ranging from indymedia centers to the noborder-networks, from the Free Software movement to community media, from grassroots campaigns to hacker collectives, have been discussing how to intervene in, outside of, counter to, or as an alternative to the agenda and organisation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) from December 10th to 12th in Geneva, Switzerland.

    WHAT IS WSIS?

    WSIS is the first of two global summits dealing with information and communications to be held by the United Nations in Geneva. But the Summit is a smokescreen. Although it talks about the digital divide, knowledge dissemination, social interaction, political engagement, media, education, and health, this language is used to mystify the continuing use of information to protect and advance the interests of global capital.

    GENEVA-03

    Geneva-03 is an open, loose and temporary association of groups and individuals who are currently preparing a series of events around the WSIS. Its common goal is to create autonomous physical and network spaces for diverse tactical, grassroots, activist and community media actions and discussions in and around the WSIS meetings.

    The issues at hand are many:

    * Shaping and subverting the information technologies that are now part of everyday life.

    * Refusing both war and infowar.

    * Countering the exploitation of immaterial work and informalized labor.

    * Resisting border management and digital rights management.

    * Defending our commons of ideas, including indigenous knowledge, scientific data, free software, educational systems and creative expression against the immense pressures of privatization.

    * Fighting for freedom of movement and freedom of communication for all people, not just those who promote and benefit from capital. The actions taking place at WSIS? WE SEIZE! will seek to promote new ways of communicating, what is communicated, by who and for whom: to create new social formations that can address the systems of domination that surround and inform our world.

    The struggle takes place from the local, regional and global infrastructure (radio and TV spectrum, wireless frequencies, cable rights of way, satellite orbital paths) to the content that traverses those structures. These networks should be for the benefit of and use by all the world's people, organised to nurture and sustain social cooperation.

    WSIS? WE SEIZE!

    The event will work around these areas:

    * A strategic convention before the UN summit in Geneva, comprising discussions, panels and presentations.

    * A polymedia lab to share tools, skills, experiences, and knowledge.

    * A three day netcast which will follow the revolution of the earth, streaming independent media activism and community media projects from across the globe.

    Geneva-03 is asking all interested people to get involved with this initiative. We are working to establish venues and schedules, as well as options for accomodation and general survival in the expensive city of Geneva.

    There will be a further preparation meeting at the European Social Forum in Paris in November. For all people interested in the Geneva-03 project, this is the open working list: http://lists.emdash.org/mailman/listinfo/prep-l and the website: http://www.geneva03.org/. The Geneva03.org website is an open publishing forum where you can post your proposals, ideas and contributions.

  • by Katravax ( 21568 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @02:11PM (#7133255)
    Microsoft spends so much time fighting OSS and badmouthing it, but I haven't heard them get a hint on the obvious: Their customers want it. I personally use Windows and have been employed for a decade as a Windows programmer. However, with every passing season, I trust MS less and use OSS more on my own. At some point I will break away from them for one reason: MS has not responded to me as a customer.

    MS adds features that their large clients want, so why can't they respond with the source as well? Rather than fighting OSS so much, they should realize they're not losing so much based on the price of the product, but on the license and the source. As a customer that has spent thousands on MS software, I have lately done it grudgingly because I do not yet know enough to migrate everything I do to an open-source OS.

    At my office, many new machines go up as Linux or BSD boxes because we fear the recent Windows licensing terms. Rather than making us, their customers, nervous about MS and the impact their licenses have on our business, MS should respond with a soft hand rather than the iron gauntlet. Some licenses we've read even make us nervous to have our own source code on a Windows box. I know I haven't said anything that hasn't been said a million times before, but if my OS vendor of choice -- Microsoft -- would get a clue and be responsive to me and the business I work for, I'd consider the alternatives much less than I do now.
    • Microsoft spends so much time fighting OSS and badmouthing it, but I haven't heard them get a hint on the obvious: Their customers want it. I personally use Windows and have been employed for a decade as a Windows programmer. However, with every passing season, I trust MS less and use OSS more on my own. At some point I will break away from them for one reason: MS has not responded to me as a customer.

      MS adds features that their large clients want, so why can't they respond with the source as well? Rather
  • Outstanding! (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 )

    I've worked on UN ops before. Let me assure you: the biggest barrier ANY goal can ever have is having the UN supporting it. Now that that's out of the way, Open Source software should have no trouble flourishing.

    • I've worked on UN ops before. Let me assure you: the biggest barrier ANY goal can ever have is having the UN supporting it. Now that that's out of the way, Open Source software should have no trouble flourishing.

      Why the hell was this modded flamebait? He has a valid point.

      The UN is a joke. Why should we care whether or not it supposed open source software? Things get done despite the UN, not because of it. The UN is a nice concept that has a horrid implementation.

      OSS will spread no matter how much FUD is

  • by ChunKing ( 513714 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @02:42PM (#7133419)
    There is an alternative Summit to the WSIS taking place in Geneva at the same time called the World Forum on Communication Rights (http://www.communicationrights.org/index.html)- an independent civil-society led initiative, open to all seeking democratic, just and participative media and communication.

    Its goals are:

    - To demonstrate and document the importance of communication rights for people and communities in an emerging information society
    - To contribute to the emergence and understanding of a coherent concept of communication rights
    - To generate cooperation in promoting the concept, recognition and realisation of such rights.

    The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is a full UN Summit that will be held in December 2003 in Geneva with a second meeting in Tunis in 2005. Early hopes that the WSIS would tackle a broad range of information and communication issues have been dashed and the agenda that has emerged is concerned mainly with telecommunication and internet related issues, viewed from a technical perspective and a narrowly construed development agenda. Broader communication and media issues, an essential feature of any information society, and human and communication rights that must animate its core, have been largely sidelined.

    The World Forum on Communication Rights brings together civil society organisations, NGOs, governments and others in a civil society-driven event to be held alongside the Summit, not in opposition to it but to highlight and make practical progress in spheres the Summit fails to cover. It welcomes all stakeholders committed to ensuring such rights are integral to an information society.

    The Forum focuses on four themes:

    - Communication and Poverty
    - Communication, Conflict and Peace
    - Communication, Copyright, Patents and Trade
    - Communication and Human Rights
  • We should hope that the UN and ITU openly favour Microsoft and commercial software. If utter idiots advocate and support MS that makes MS look bad.

    Besides, who wants the world's worst bureacracy, least effective and least meritocratic band of inept fools "endorsing" your work or "taking over" Internet governance and "recommending" your product or service?

    Any effort expended on WSIS shuld be expended to mock and ridicule its irrelevance ...
  • I worked at the UN in New York for a few years, developing sites for their education, peacekeeping, and oil-for-food departments. (that last one is still up, although the program is defunct, obviously).

    The UN now is a completely Microsoft-dominated organization. The Web sites are exclusively ASP/VB MS SQL Server, etc. There was some interest by a few of us to move toward PHP while I was there, but the bureaucracy is so thick, that once a standard becomes adopted, it's impossible to change.

    The UN still
  • You can read more about WSIS here:
  • by evan_leibovitch ( 74771 ) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @05:28PM (#7134275) Homepage
    Two groups, in their own ways, are working to ensure that WSIS encourages the promotion of open source amongst its participating countries. The Linux Professional Institute [lpi.org] and the Free Software Foundation [fsf.org] are two of the many hundreds of non-governmental organizations which have received official status at the Summit. (Here is Part 1 [geneva2003.org] and Part 2 [geneva2003.org] of the complete list.)

    LPI will tentatively be holding a number of events at the WSIS conference in December, including an open source workshop and a certification exam lab; it is also our intention to put a Linux "live" CD in the hands of every WSIS delegate. We will have at least six people at the conference, working to ensure that the delegations are capable of overcoming the anti-open-source FUD which is no doubt going on.

    To that end, LPI has submitted a commentary on the WSIS activities [itu.int], now part of the official WSIS documentation, that is stirring some interest. Anyone who is interested in helping LPI's efforts at WSIS is invited to subscribe to the LPI@WSIS mailing list [lpi.org].

    The FSF is participating through the WSIS Working Group on Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks [wsis-pct.org]; RMS is on the group's steering committee and Georg Greve of FSF Europe is one of the co-ordinators.

  • "This language was removed from earlier versions to make the document more palatable for business and commercial interests."

    Hmm, business and commercial interest bloc in the UN? It's still called the United Nations not United Businesses right?

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