From the letter: In light of the recent events relating to the standardization process of EOOXML, it seems appropriate to look into possible standardization of the process itself…. The intent of this letter is to safeguard future standardization and to ensure that the processes scale in the face of increased pressure from large commercial interests.
Good suggestions, although I think that a time limit on when a member is allowed to join is rather toothless in itself. If the deadline for joining as a P-member is three months before the vote, irregularities might still take place at an earlier date. OK, the sneak surprise attack will not be an option, but the risk of ballot stuffing will still be there.
Instead, I think P-membership should be restricted to members with a reasonable track record of active standards work. Trying to audit the quality, integrity and regulations of their national standards body would be an option. I think P-membership should be earned, not automatically granted, and P-membership should require a decent level of good conduct to be retained. Else we might end up having some countries selling their heavyweight P-member votes to the highest bidder. If there is money to be earned, someone is bound to take the opportunity.
I am being very cynical here, but it is hard to be anything else after what we have seen recently.
I wrote on DigitalMajority, The ISO standard for corruption:
What happens to ISO?
For me, it's the acid test. Can ISO, a relic of the industrial age, survive the attack? It looks very weak. Without the help from the FFII and countless other "no-men", it would have been a quick and cheap victory for Megatron. We put some backbone into many national committees but will ISO as a whole find the courage to stand up to the bully?
My analysis is that this fight will be decisive. If Megatron can bully and buy ISO, then ISO is dead. No standard that is bought in blood is worth having, and the standards body that accepts such a controversial process is signing its own death warrant. People will associate ISO with Novell, one more Megatron yes-man, producing useless noises for a society that no longer cares.
I agree. This is one of the many good amendments to my letter. I am forging the final letter to send to ISO based on this and other suggestions for improvement. It will be posted on http://blogs.freecode.no/isene/. Thanks for the input.
(can't seem to be able to write this from my own account here… it keeps insisting that I am anonymous. Regards, Geir Isene)
It is likely that ISO actually promotes large conclomerates to standardize their formats rather than discourage that.
They actually provided the fasttracking mechanism just for that purpose.
In that sense is it likely that ISO has more problem with the initiative of offering money to stop an ISO standardization rather than a company asking it's partners to join the standardization proces.
I see both possibilities as big problems. Using money and foul play to sway a vote either way should not be an option. The case we saw happening recently was someone paying for a standard to pass. If in the future a standard were to be blocked for something else than technical reasons by similar methods of foul play, it would certainly be just as bad for the reputation of ISO.
Using money and foul play to sway a vote either way should not be an option.
Right. Like the FFII's payout of 2,500 Euros to "the team that makes the best effort to helping the International Standardization Organisation (ISO) fight off Microsoft's lobbying stands".
- Alex Brown.
this is the better that FFII could have done with its tiny budget when it was confronting to a budget from Microsoft side of millions of Euros. 2,500 is surely less than what Microsoft has spent in any of its employees working in this matter in any the committees. And I don't count the amount of money that Microsoft has invested in to convince to all its gold partners to work in the committees. We have already probes enough that Microsoft has paid to its partners no matter if not directly in money (Sweden, Denmark, etc.) Indeed is quite suspecting that a big share of the national committees were filled out of new members that curiously had partnership relations with Microsoft (Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden, Brazil, Italy, US, most African ones, Australia, etc.)
Indeed, 2,500 is similar to what Microsoft and every of its partners has paid to enter in the committees of every country. In Italy, for example, you needed to pay 1,200 Eur to participate, and Microsoft got several tens of partners in the committee. Who paid this money finally?
Also, I don't see anything unfair of rewarding the "fighting off Microsoft's lobbying stands". If I understand right, this is a way to help ISO to maintain cleaned up its house from external commercial pressures that could affect (have affected and surely are still affecting) its normal and correct decision processes.
And, by the way, FFII hasn't paid anything yet. The Kayak award has not been granted yet. FFII is still considering nominations.
If you really want to support the no OOxml side, financially supporting the travel costs of technical people to the BRM would be helpful.
I've been asked by my NB to attend Geneva to advise our chair on the technical issues but I can't afford the $1500 - 3000 for hotel, the refundable airfare (in case the meeting is cancelled or postponed at the last minute - a real possibility in my mind) and most importantly the unpaid week of work. Microsoft employees who are also on my NB committee will be there because their expenses are supported by their company. But for private consultants or those who belong to small companies will not be able to afford this.
My NB has told me there is no funding to help off-set the expenses, which I figure will be about $6,000 (not including lost income).
I actually don't think I need to tell you this, but just to make things clear to others: If you read my comment closely, you will see that I was not pointing a finger to any particular side. While I do see the double edge in that €2,500 bounty from FFII, you cannot really argue that it was a significant reason why so many people all over the world are opposing OOXML. On the other hand, Microsoft's Doug Mahugh has recently admitted fair and square to the fact that having a rushed draft pushed through ISO on fast track is a commercial endeavor worth a lot of money to them. This is where the big money comes into play.
My statement was simply that using money should not be an option, neither to to push a bad standard though nor to block a good standard from a competitor. We could talk about who paid the most money, and what financial resources the "no" lobby has had in comparison to the "yes" lobby, but that is not the point here. When commercial interests and big financial resources enter the equation, the lobbying can overpower the ISO procedure and break it. That is what is happening here.