States push for shackles on MS in settlement talks

It looks like Bill & Co will be facing some tough demands


MS on Trial Bill Gates would not comment on the possibility of successful settlement talks with the DoJ yesterday: "I think that kind of speculation is not valuable," he said, sticking to the script. "We've certainly been interested even before the lawsuit was filed." He then went on again to demand that the "integrity" of Windows be preserved, and that if so, "it would be nice if a settlement could be reached." This time around the DoJ will not be allowed to accept a pathetically weak consent decree, since the 19 states + DC effectively act as a stiffener to stop any sign of weakness. The states can seek different and additional remedies. Comments from state attorney generals have all suggested that what Microsoft is offering falls far short of the minimum necessary concessions. The DoJ has not commented. The Seattle Times carried a report on Sunday that the states wanted Microsoft to be forced to auction Windows and the trademarks. Assuming the story is true, it was quite a coup for the newspaper to get a leaked copy, since Washington state is not one of the 19 states opposing Microsoft. It would be most interesting to know how and why this leak occurred. It is unlikely that Microsoft assisted in any way, since the proposal would be violently opposed at Redmond. The report says that the states' white paper, written by Kevin O'Connor, the Wisconsin attorney general, requires more than Microsoft promising to sin no more. Specific terms mentioned include the prohibition of exclusionary contracts and predatory conduct. Threats by Microsoft to withhold products would not be allowed. Acquisitions would require approval. Modifying software, such as Java, would not be allowed (and it is to be hoped that this would be broadened into preventing Microsoft from subverting standards). The states also want Microsoft to disclose prices, and to stop discriminating in its prices. Microsoft has been looking naked in Euroland (since discrepancies in Euro prices are now apparent even to the arithmetically challenged). Cheaper prices in Spain have contrasted sharply with high prices in Sweden, so Microsoft is now having to harmonise prices. Compulsory licensing is also favoured by the states, although alternatives are apparently considered, including source code disclosure and breaking Microsoft into Babysofts along product lines. ® Complete Register trial coverage


Other stories you might like

  • Protonmail celebrates Swiss court victory exempting it from telco data retention laws

    Doesn't stop local courts' surveillance orders, though

    Encrypted email provider Protonmail has hailed a recent Swiss legal ruling as a "victory for privacy," after winning a lawsuit that sees it exempted from data retention laws in the mountainous realm.

    Referring to a previous ruling that exempted instant messaging services from data capture and storage laws, the Protonmail team said this week: "Together, these two rulings are a victory for privacy in Switzerland as many Swiss companies are now exempted from handing over certain user information in response to Swiss legal orders."

    Switzerland's Federal Administrative Court ruled on October 22 that email providers in Switzerland are not considered telecommunications providers under Swiss law, thereby removing them from the scope of data retention requirements imposed on telcos.

    Continue reading
  • Japan picks AWS and Google for first gov cloud push

    Local players passed over for Digital Agency’s first project

    Japan's Digital Agency has picked Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud for its first big reform push.

    The Agency started operations in September 2021, years after efforts like the UK's Government Digital Service (GDS) or Australia's Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). The body was a signature reform initiated by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who spent his year-long stint in the top job trying to curb Japan's reliance on paper documents, manual processes, and faxes. Japan's many government agencies also operated their websites independently of each other, most with their own design and interface.

    The new Agency therefore has a remit to "cut across all ministries" and "provide services that are driven not toward ministries, agency, laws, or systems, but toward users and to improve user-experience".

    Continue reading
  • Singaporean minister touts internet 'kill switch' that finds kids reading net nasties and cuts 'em off ASAP

    Fancies a real-time crowdsourced content rating scheme too

    A Minister in the Singapore government has suggested the creation of an internet kill switch that would prevent minors from reading questionable material online – perhaps using ratings of content created in real time by crowdsourced contributors.

    "The post-COVID world will bring new challenges globally, including to us in the security arena," said Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at a Tuesday ceremony to award the city-state's 2021 Defense Technology Prize.

    "For operations, the SAF (Singapore Armed Force) has to expand its capabilities in the digital domain. Whether for administrative or operational purposes, I think that we will need to leverage technology to the maximum," he declared.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021