[conspire] brilliant Peruvian document (was: brilliant Brazilian document?)

Eric De Mund ead-conspire at ixian.com
Fri Apr 22 13:27:23 PDT 2005


] Hmm, or might you have had in mind the eloquent letter from Peruvian
] congressman Dr. Edgar David Villanueva Nunez to Microsoft's general
] counsel in _that_ country? If that's possibly it, then please see
] <http://www.opensource.org/docs/peru_and_ms.php>.

Bingo. Thank you a million. So much for it being 1. Brazilian (it's
Peruvian), 2. short (it's moderately long), and 3. relatively recent
(it's from 2002). No matter; it's still brilliant in how cleanly it pops
every single FUD balloon Microsoft attempts to float against free soft-
ware. Here are some highlights that just hit a perfect bullseye for me:

     Peru answers MS FUD, 8 April 2002

     "The basic principles which inspire the Bill are linked to the
     basic guarantees of a state of law, such as:

     o    Free access to public information by the citizen.
     o    Permanence of public data.
     o    Security of the State and citizens.

     To guarantee the free access of citizens to public information, it
     is indispensable that the encoding of data is not tied to a single
     provider. The use of standard and open formats gives a guarantee of
     this free access, if necessary through the creation of compatible
     free software.

     To guarantee the permanence of public data, it is necessary that
     the usability and maintenance of the software does not depend on
     the goodwill of the suppliers, or on the monopoly conditions im-
     posed by them. For this reason the State needs systems the devel-
     opment of which can be guaranteed due to the availability of the
     source code.

     To guarantee national security or the security of the State, it is
     indispensable to be able to rely on systems without elements which
     allow control from a distance or the undesired transmission of in-
     formation to third parties. Systems with source code freely acces-
     sible to the public are required to allow their inspection by the
     State itself, by the citizens, and by a large number of independent
     experts throughout the world. Our proposal brings further security,
     since the knowledge of the source code will eliminate the growing
     number of programs with *spy code*.


     What the Bill does express clearly, is that, for software to be
     acceptable for the state it is not enough that it is technically
     capable of fulfilling a task, but that further the contractual
     conditions must satisfy a series of requirements regarding the
     license, without which the State cannot guarantee the citizen
     adequate processing of his data, watching over its integrity,
     confidentiality, and accessibility throughout time, as these are
     very critical aspects for its normal functioning.


     The Bill does not introduce any discrimination whatever, since it
     only establishes *how* the goods have to be provided (which is a
     state power) and not *who* has to provide them (which would effect-
     ively be discriminatory, if restrictions based on national origin,
     race religion, ideology, sexual preference etc. were imposed). On
     the contrary, the Bill is decidedly antidiscriminatory. This is so
     because by defining with no room for doubt the conditions for the
     provision of software, it prevents state bodies from using software
     which has a license including discriminatory conditions.

     It should be obvious from the preceding two paragraphs that the
     Bill does not harm free private enterprise, since the latter can
     always choose under what conditions it will produce software; some
     of these will be acceptable to the State, and others will not be
     since they contradict the guarantee of the basic principles listed
     above. This free initiative is of course compatible with the free-
     dom of industry and freedom of contract (in the limited form in
     which the State can exercise the latter). Any private subject can
     produce software under the conditions which the State requires, or
     can refrain from doing so. Nobody is forced to adopt a model of
     production, but if they wish to provide software to the State, they
     must provide the mechanisms which guarantee the basic principles,
     and which are those described in the Bill.


     You end with a rhetorical question: "13. If open source software
     satisfies all the requirements of State bodies, why do you need a
     law to adopt it? Shouldn't it be the market which decides freely
     which products give most benefits or value?"

     We agree that in the private sector of the economy, it must be the
     market that decides which products to use, and no state interfer-
     ence is permissible there. However, in the case of the public sec-
     tor, the reasoning is not the same: as we have already established,
     the state archives, handles, and transmits information which does
     not belong to it, but which is entrusted to it by citizens, who
     have no alternative under the rule of law. As a counterpart to this
     legal requirement, the State must take extreme measures to safe-
     guard the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of this in-
     formation. The use of proprietary software raises serious doubts as
     to whether these requirements can be fulfilled, lacks conclusive
     evidence in this respect, and so is not suitable for use in the
     public sector.

     The need for a law is based, firstly, on the realization of the
     fundamental principles listed above in the specific area of soft-
     ware; secondly, on the fact that the State is not an ideal homogen-
     eous entity, but made up of multiple bodies with varying degrees of
     autonomy in decision making. Given that it is inappropriate to use
     proprietary software, the fact of establishing these rules in law
     will prevent the personal discretion of any state employee from
     putting at risk the information which belongs to citizens. And
     above all, because it constitutes an up-to-date reaffirmation in
     relation to the means of management and communication of informa-
     tion used today, it is based on the republican principle of open-
     ness to the public.

     In conformance with this universally accepted principle, the citi-
     zen has the right to know all information held by the State and not
     covered by well-founded declarations of secrecy based on law. Now,
     software deals with information and is itself information. Informa-
     tion in a special form, capable of being interpreted by a machine
     in order to execute actions, but crucial information all the same
     because the citizen has a legitimate right to know, for example,
     how his vote is computed or his taxes calculated. And for that he
     must have free access to the source code and be able to prove to
     his satisfaction the programs used for electoral computations or
     calculation of his taxes.

Thank you a million, again, Rick,
"Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one." --Marcus

Eric De Mund              |   Ixian Systems, Inc.   | cell: 650.303.4336
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