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Microsoft Government Open Source Software The Almighty Buck Politics

Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the lockin-leverage-legislate dept.
walterbyrd writes: Fresh on the heels of the entire Munich and Linux debacle, another story involving Microsoft and free software has popped up across the world, in Chile. A prolific magazine from the South American country says that the powerful Microsoft lobby managed to turn around a law that would allow the authorities to use free software. "An independent member of the Chilean Parliament, Vlado Mirosevic, pushed a bill that would allow the state to consider free software when the authorities needed to purchase or renew licenses. ... A while later, the same member of the Parliament, Daniel Farcas, proposed another bill that actually nullified the effects of the previous one that had just been adopted. To make things even more interesting, some of the people who voted in favor of the first law also voted in favor of the second one. ... The new bill is even more egregious, because it aggressively pushes for the adoption of proprietary software. Companies that choose to use proprietary software will receive certain tax breaks, which makes it very hard for free software to get adopted."
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Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @02:36PM (#47723233) Homepage Journal

    Who kowtowed to any lobbyist, regardless of which one it happens to be.

    • by wiredlogic (135348) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @02:40PM (#47723269)

      If they're anything like American legislators they just let the lobbyists write the laws so they are free to put on an act of serving their constituents.

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @02:54PM (#47723361)

        It is difficult to tell from either the summary or TFA if that is even true. The summary is horribly written (what is a "prolific magazine"?) and uses the word "bill" and "law" interchangeably. ALL countries that have income tax allow software purchases to be deducted, so I don't see why that is thrown in. These tax deductions apply to Open Source (which is not necessarily zero priced) as well as proprietary software. TFA would be far better if it had more facts, and focused less on trying to generate outrage.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Em Adespoton (792954)

          Plus, just in the summary, two MPs are conflated, and following that, we have the idea being pushed that legislation to promote free software in government is somehow hobbled by more legislation to provide businesses with tax credits to offset software purchase costs?

          Last I knew, the Chilean government wasn't a federation of businesses, and the second bill just makes commercial software look more like free software (in terms of purchase/license cost) to businesses.

          Seems to me that the second bill could also

          • Chile is often held up as being one of the more libertarian governments. As such it seems logical that it would often appear to be a federation of businesses.

            • Chile is often held up as being one of the more libertarian governments. As such it seems logical that it would often appear to be a federation of businesses.

              Some people are always claiming libertarian governments would mean big businesses would run everything. But if that were true, you have to wonder why big businesses never support libertarian ideas, but prefer big government instead.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Darinbob (1142669)

                Big business does push for libertarian ideas, such as the idea that government stay off their back. Big business wants a small weak government in general, a government where they can control the regulations. The only time you see big business backing a bigger government is in areas where they prefer the workers to pay the bill or where they can take advantage of government as a customer (such as big military for big profits).

                • Big business wants a small weak government in general

                  You REALLY need to supply some reference for that, because it's the opposite of everything I ever see.

                  a government where they can control the regulations

                  Yes, this *is* what they want, which by definition means a larger government: more regulation, more people to enforce the regulations, more rules, more profit protectionism, etc., etc. It's also the opposite of wanting a "small weak government".

                  They also want to control how government educates the kids (witness Bill Gates and his "Common Core"). They want wage slaves trained to perform the menial tasks

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          It's not just software that can be deducted, it's anything at all that costs money which your business purchases. If your business purchases a coffee machine for employees to use, it can deduct that. It has nothing to do with software, it has to do with business expenses.

          Proprietary software costs money, so of course it can be deducted. However, deductions aren't a good thing; they only reduce your tax liability. You come out ahead by simply not spending the money at all, and paying the tax on it. So i

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Huh, turns out I can blame both. Unexpected, I know, but I tried it, and I swear it worked.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Who kowtowed to any lobbyist, regardless of which one it happens to be.

      Precisely! But when is this actually going to happen though? Clearly these politicians are corrupt and you can pay them to pass whatever laws you want. Going to every lobbyist and telling them not to offer bribes to politicians because the politicians will take them achieves nothing, the people of these countries need to stand up to corrupt politicians! If they weren't corrupt in the first place then lobbyists would have no power anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @02:45PM (#47723303)

    should always equal OSS/Free/Libre software.

    - Usually better software quality.
    - Prevents monetary kickbacks.
    - No stupid license fees (an evil in itself)

    In this regard, I am in agreement with RMS.

    • And while that's probably a moderately popular opinion among people who work with software for a living, not IT workers get to vote on things too, and they don't care so much.

      Democracy isn't meritocracy. And no one has invented a system of meritocracy that doesn't devolve into plutocracy or autocracy rather quickly.

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:11PM (#47723487) Homepage

        All government data needs to be open to auditing. Thus any government data needs to be stored in open formats that can be examined and manipulated with tools that can be sourced from multiple parties. Furthermore, the government should not be in the business of helping entrench particular software monopolies.

        The nature of the binaries being run is really just a side show.

        It's the DATA that needs to be open.

        • That's a nice theory too. It's got a good reason for being wanted.

          But what about military secrets?
          What about ongoing stings of organized crime syndicates, and the undercover police who might threatened?

          Are these exceptions? How many lives is this principle worth?

          If(instead) these are valid exceptions, what objective criteria would you use to separate the valid secrets from the invalid?

          People have been trying to solve the problem you just laid down a simplistic solution to for decades now.

          • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:40PM (#47723715) Journal

            But what about military secrets?
            What about ongoing stings of organized crime syndicates, and the undercover police who might threatened?

            Both eventually become open records to the public anyway (after an expiration date, naturally), so aside from keeping such exceptional data sufficiently isolated from the public until their expiration dates (which happens anyway), what do you think detracts from GP's philosophy as per data format?

            Back in the Bad Old Days, everything was typewritten on paper... a completely open data format. So...

            • Sure, but now you're talking about what does happen. GGP was talking about what should happen, and I was challenging them to consider edge cases rather than laying out a simplistic ideology that "always works".

          • by sjames (1099)

            In those cases, the data might need to be withheld for a time, but it should all eventually be made public and should be in an open and free format when that day comes.

            It absolutely should NOT be in an undocumented format openable only by a piece of proprietary software that hasn't been available for 10 years.

            In the unlikely event that there remain compelling reasons for secrecy decades later, there will also be a strong need to still be able to actually read the documents. Free and open formats win again.

        • by exomondo (1725132)
          Pretty much every word processor can save to HTML or PDF so archive it as that.
        • This is true, but all things being equal, much of the data is held to ransom behind proprietary format at present.

          "Open" implies that the format is accessible without prejudice ; beyond eliminating the need for a computer altogether (which is impractical), that means it should be accessible on the three big desktop platforms, probably the web as well.

          Totally agree that for simple data like character delimited text tables it's not a problem, and Open Data should tend toward the simplest format practical to c

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:15PM (#47723531) Journal
      There are many reasons why proprietary software is sometimes the better choice. In some cases the TCO will be lower, or the software is easier to use for office workers (like it or not, Windows / Office is pretty much what employees will already be familiar with). It may be easier to find support staff for some proprietary software. And in some cases, the proprietary software will simply be of better quality, more reliable, or a better functional fit. Also, I fail to see why license fees are evil.

      With that said, I think governments should use open standards for data, document storage and interfaces where available, and avoid products (proprietary or otherwise) that do not support such standards.
      • by armanox (826486)

        Agreed. They should avoid being locked into a certain vendor.

        Also, there certainly is plenty of reasons to vote against OSS solutions - take the whole RH7 disaster with GNOME 3 - if you are running it in a virtual environment for users (say, like a terminal server), GNOME 3 (which is the default) is no go (doesn't play nice in virtual) so you're left with Microsoft.

        • Wait, GNOME3 does not play nice in a virtual environment so you are left with Microsoft??? where did that come from?

          Dont use Gnome3, I never use a gui on a server but if you are making a terminal server as you say then use any of the other WM's From KDE to FVWM, there are lots of WM choices and you are not just stuck with the default. Well with linux you are not stuck with the default, cant say the same for Windows.

          See http://xwinman.org/ [xwinman.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kabukiwookie (2677869)

        In some cases the TCO will be lower,

        That is true, but only when looking at TCO in the short term. In the longer term, proprietary software will always turn out more expensive. Either because licencing fees go up or the business eventually goes out of business and expensive projects will need to be started to replace the functionality of the now unsupported software. Using free open source software, means that the user always has access to the technology and is able to ensure the product continues to perform the function that it was intended t

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        With that said, I think governments should use open standards for data, document storage and interfaces where available, and avoid products (proprietary or otherwise) that do not support such standards.

        As long as the products really do support the standard and the standard doesn't allow blobs of proprietary data formats.

      • The other thing governments should not do is mandate software or other purchases of specific things from specific companies.

        The government currently would require me to buy health insurance if I didn't already have it. I looked at my options. There's something like seven insurance companies in direct competition, and if an eighth came up with a way to sell it cheaper they'd be welcome. No problem.

        If I have to use IE, or Microsoft Office, to use government services or connect with the government, I'm

      • License fees here are evil because you as a taxpayer have to pay them and then to read a document from your government (which in many cases you are legally compelled to do: tax documents for example) you have to pay them again (since you aren't allowed to use the copy you and your fellow citizens collectively bought). At least when my taxes help pay for a road I get to drive on said road.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)

      That is BS. publicly funded Government departments Priorities should be first and foremost to ensure they are getting best value for money, if that is OSS/Free software then great, license fees are a tiny part of the cost of most software and while they are an important consideration the overall cost and effectiveness is far more important. Also plenty of OSS sucks (just like plenty of Closed source software does), and NO open source doesn't prevent kickbacks as it still needs to be supported and inevitably

    • by exomondo (1725132)
      But you can never really achieve that until you have won the battle on mandating open hardware. Even if you do manage to get them to use FOSS that will still almost certainly be using closed drivers somewhere along the line, even if you could get all fully open drivers it's still going to be interfacing with closed hardware.
    • You do realize that very few people share RMS's opinions, right? I flatly don't agree that proprietary software is unethical, and I have put a lot of thought into software ethics. People who aren't familiar with the philosophy are in general not going to think it's unethical, any more than a copyrighted book or song is unethical. (Yes, I know, some people think copyright itself is unethical, but again they're in a small minority.)

      There is some really good F/OS software, but it's not always higher qual

  • So Microsoft has to resort to such legal tactics in order to get people to use Microsoft software.
  • Details? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @02:50PM (#47723341)

    Not to be a party-pooper but there isn't anything at all in the article about what "the Microsoft lobby" actually did or not. Only that a politician that were against the free software support law from the start managed to get a contrary law passed a while later.

    • I'm with you on this. TFA should be labeled, "opinion."

    • ...not even that. From TFS, you can deduce that the second piece of legislation isn't even contrary, but is just equally beneficial to ALL software instead of being tailored to encourage adoption of free software.

      So the summary could be rewritten as: "Free Software Lobby fails to prevent the use of Closed Software in Government and Business."

    • by Keith111 (1862190)

      This is Slashdot. If it's software related and negative, everyone blames Microsoft whether they are involved or not. It seems to me like the government wanted free stuff so it stands to reason that the people who create stuff for their livelihood would not like that. I mean... that's the whole point in people not liking piracy. Just cause you put it into law doesn't mean it's morally right... kind of like legal tax evasion for churches.

    • by Ecuador (740021)

      Only that a politician that were against the free software support law from the start managed to get a contrary law passed a while later.

      And that politician apparently had a name change between these two events, so I guess he might have gone through some life altering event which could explain it?

      • by Trogre (513942)

        It's amazing what an all-expenses-paid vacation to the Bahamas can do for one's point of view...

  • It seems like... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by toonces33 (841696) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @02:54PM (#47723365)

    The legislators were mainly interested in getting a price break from Microsoft, and they found a way to do it.

  • Well, wait,,,, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday August 21, 2014 @02:58PM (#47723387) Journal

    By my understanding, tax breaks being offered on something only mean that you effectively only get some percentage of the money back that you spent on that thing.

    But if you aren't spending any of your money on that thing in the first place, even if it would give you a tax break, aren't you still further ahead than if you did spend the money when you can only get part of it back?

    • Correct.

      It will lower the threshold to continue or start using proprietary software though. It's about the market share first, the money follows later once you've cornered the market.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I pretty much don't. "Certain tax breaks" is a choice of words that could mean any tax deduction of expenses. "Would allow the state" can well be a euphemism for "forces the state". Sadly, I don't trust the FSF crowd to use words reasonably.

  • Instead of lobbying, lower your damn prices. At my US company we're sure as hell not paying $450 a seat for the corporate single license version with Access and Publisher. It's not my damn vault they lost billions on Windows 8 and the Xbone and need to make it elsewhere.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So Vlado Mirosevic changed his name into Daniel Farcas just so he could push the response bill? That's really clever! (Missed it? It says in TFA and TFS that the _same_ MP, but with a different name, pushed this).

    Also, I smell hoax, FUD, what have you. One name sounds Serbian, the other Romanian. In Chile. We guys barely made it out of the area, much less into overseas ruling positions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:14PM (#47723519)

    Munich isn't ditching Linux.

    Not often that SN gets the drop on /., they must be improving.

    http://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=14/08/21/0836239

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:17PM (#47723539) Homepage Journal
    You know, if anyone was actually bribed in the process of that, it would be VERY illegal back here in the USA. Just sayin'...
    • Old ways (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nobody bribes the old way.

      Your spouse get consulting job, your son gets contract to discover effects of Moon's light on frogs population.
      That's how is done, just look at the transfer of government money into lucrative contracts for private companies.

    • by JRV31 (2962911)
      Bribery is not illegal in the US, we call it campaign contributions.
      • by Greyfox (87712)
        Bribing foreign officials is, especially if you do business with the US government. It means fewer bribes *cough* I mean... campaign contributions... for our guys!
  • Linux: we're faster, cheaper, and just as easy to install and use as windows, plus we come with an ecosystem of thousands of applications that do exactly what yours do, but are also free.

    Microsoft: You make an excellent point, and we certainly wish we had time for a formal rebuttal but for right now we're too busy shoveling cash into foreign governments and municipalities. you see, with the departure of steve ballmer, our failed cellular endeavor, our failed search engine, our failed cloud computing se
  • by Anonymous Coward

    America brands itself as Valhalla for capitalism. An environment where a good business can triumph, rewarding the owners and punishing the weak and lazy.

    Problem is that the whole thing is a lie.

    America has dirty hands. Litigation or sub-rosa dealings are the norm at the expense of true enterprise. Lobbyists encourage lawmakers to enact rules which prohibit or hamper competition. Businesses engage in 'glass parking lot' lawsuits to bleed competitors and consumers dry.

    The hopeful entrepreneur would be wise to

  • by clovis (4684) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:48PM (#47723791)

    This just out: Slashdot publishes an article with the title "Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access to Free Software".
    Anyone reading the article sees that no such thing has happened.
    Huffpost slides into second place for misleading tagline, but still retains "sideboob" title.

  • Excuse me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @04:23PM (#47724049)

    "Munich and Linux debacle"? Looks like you misspelt "success story" there, and nevermind the political backstabbing.

  • i hope you choke and die on your state sanctioned monopoly
  • by williamyf (227051) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @06:05PM (#47724675)

    My two cents here:

    I read the linked English article, as well as the article in Spanish that they reference ("Ubuntizando.com"), as well as the original article in Spanish. **

    The original article (in Ubuntizando) says NOTHING about the name of the legislator that did the counter-proposal, or anything about any alleged tax breaks. Is mostly derivative and incomplete. From this point onwards, I will reference only the article in "biobiochile"

    The second article cites two others which I did not read (I have a limited amount of time). BioBioChile interviews only the "Pro-Free-Software***" (Mirosevic) legislator, and not the other (Farcas) who, as the summary clearly states, was the one who voted against Free Software****. Is only logical that the guy launched a counter-proposal. The only surprising thing is the turn-around time (24h).

    Even more, the article (in biobiochile), indicates, in the words of Mirosevic himself***** "Half the people [referring to the other legislators, "diputados", or congressmen for those in the US] had no idea what we were talking about. I do not mean of the concept of Free software, but of software itself, but as we calculated, the rest followed those of us who understood". Is only logical, that they voted on the second initiative again whitout a clear understanding, either folowing party guidelines, or swayed by the 10 legislators that submitted the second motion.

    From the way of writing (the subtle nuances are often lost in machine translation), starting with the title of the article itself ("Microsoft Raped Us"), I feel the magazine is "Amarillista" (think tabloid/sensationalist). And Slashdot is just being Slashdot, with the added hurdle of the language barrier.

    While I am no big fan (nor am I an enemy) of Microsoft, I am less a fan of tabloids and crappy reporting, hence this comment

    * For the record, 296/300 in my ToEFL way back when.

    ** Is in biobiochile.com, never heard of any of them, here is the link, for what is worth:
    http://www.biobiochile.cl/2014/08/19/diputado-mirosevic-revela-sabotaje-a-proyecto-que-fomentaba-software-libre-microsoft-nos-violo.shtml

    *** Again to recap, the pro-free-software resolution was voted by 64 yes, 1 no and 12 abstentions.

    **** Free as in beer, "Libre in Spanish"

    ***** “La mitad de la gente no tenía idea de qué estábamos hablando. No digo del concepto software libre, más bien de los softwares, pero como habíamos calculado, el resto siguió a los que sí habían entendido”, relató Mirosevic a la publicación.

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