Bribery Watch!

by Rick Jelliffe

In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, and to calm the situation down, I thought I'd keep a running list of new accusations on the Web of bribery and corrupt procedures in the document standards world, for the instruction of readers. Of course, follow the links for the context behind the money quotes.

I'll add notable or novel examples I find for the next week, hopefully none! Sorry no comments on this one; the quotes and links can speak for themselves, And I want to plainly emphasize that there is a big difference in saying that a process is bad (see this interesting Karl Best blog and the interesting post by Marbux referenced below) and saying that some people or group is corrupt.

Here is a little map with the countries mentioned in red.

create your own visited country map

(Added) From NOOOXL.ORG

After the swiss cheese, you can taste the smell of the bitter cacao from Cote d'Ivoire. The Chairman of the Technical Committee in Cote d'Ivoire is Roger Kouadio, from the company Inova Formations. I let you guess from which vendor he is a business partner.

which leads to

Microsoft paying National Bodies to suddenly become P?

(Added) From "Anonymous Coward" on Slashdot

Just yesterday I was sitting in the relevant meeting of SNV/UK14 (, that decides how Switzerland will vote. The chairman (Hans-Rudolf Thomann) explained the following rules:

- we are here to create standards, not to reject them

- if we reach consensus (>=75%) to vote for Microsoft, we will vote for Microsoft

- if we only reach a majority (>=50%) to vote for Microsoft, we will vote for Microsoft

- if we reach a majority to vote against Microsoft, we will vote for Microsoft

- if we reach consensus to vote against Microsoft, we will abstain

The present spin doctors of Microsoft and ECMA managed to convince Mr. Thomann to reject every serious technical and general concern we had regarding OOMXL by pointing to compatibility reasons. At the end we had a majority _against_ Microsoft but which (giving the unfair rules) results in a Swiss vote _for_ Microsoft. "

(Added) From NoOOXML website from FFII

Brazil also in the way to be hijacked by Microsoft


ISO and ABNT are being hijacked by Microsoft and its partners.

(Added) From NoOOXML website from FFII

A generous contributor gave us the list of members of the Technical Committee in Colombia. The vendor is also invading Colombia.

(Added) From NoOOXML website from FFII

Romania votes "yes" for OOXML

Our correspondent writes, "...our politicians here are corrupt as hell, the general view around is that they are "yes-men" when it comes to lining their pockets or lack of knowledge of the technology...

(Added) From NoOOXML website from FFII

Microsoft 0wns Azerbaijan

Our correspondent from the Caucasus reports on his efforts to shed some light on the OOXML vote in Azerbaijan, a P-Member. Seems Microsoft 'arranged' the vote already

(Added) From NoOOXML website from FFII

Rumors of Microsoft blackmail in New Zealand?

Some rumors are saying that Microsoft's representative has blackmailed the Government and the Standardisation body in New Zealand with something like "If you don't say Yes to OOXML, we will revise our license terms with the Government for all Microsoft products you use. There will be sanctions". We are looking for some people from New Zealand to investigate this.

(Added) From NoOOXML website from FFII

Microsoft recruiting puppets in Australia

Microsoft is looking for puppets to represent themselves in the Australian Standardization Body: "We need more Aussie companies supporting Office Open XML".

(Added) From Roy Schestowitz

Has OOXML 'Funny Business' Already Reached Australia and India?

(Added) From Roy Schestowitz

We have seen it in Italy, we have seen it in Portugal, we have seen it in Spain, we have seen it in Denmark, we have seen it in Colombia, and we have seen it in the United States. Microsoft has no shame about abusing any system that is open to abuse or where abuse will go unnoticed. Microsoft even admitted this. The latest report comes from Switzerland (although its source and credibility cannot yet be verified).


Is China next?

(Added) From Roy Schestowitz at Boycott Novell

The Microsoft OOXML Corruption Train hits Denmark

From Charles-H Schutz's blog The Price is Not Right

"Hungary voted with a yes. The price was right for whoever was in charge"...

From Sam Hiser's blog Sacrebleu

"The ISO committee in France voting on OOXML is bent, too!"

(Added) From "Stephane Rodriguez" comment on Sam Hiser's blog above

"The guy from CleverAge has posted the list of 14 voters in AFNOR. 5 of them are Microsoft bitches. 3 of them I am not sure


WYGWAM : Microsoft bitch. One of the employees has been bribed by Doug Mahugh for months (in what is now a classic...)

Paoli Pires' blog OOXML vs ODF - The war is still ongoing in Portugal on the conduct of the standards committee

"Apparently this bunch-of-impartial-tech-companies has rejected a proposal from Sun Microsystems (Portugal) to become an active part, arguing that "there are no empty chairs in the room used for the meetings".

UPDATE: More material at Groklaw, including some notes by an open source representative, Rui Seabra.

UPDATE #2: "The person that answered "no room left" is from IIMF (IT Institute of the Ministry of Finance), not from Microsoft." says translator

UPDATE #3: From MS attendee Stephen McGibbon's Much Ado about Nothing is some responses to other parts of the Groklaw story)

"My recollection was that Rui himself was amusingly irreverent and was chastised at one point by one of the other members for lack of respect for others on the committee."

UPDATE #4: From IBM's Bob Sutor

"In spite of various communications, we are still locked out and will not be allowed to participate."

(Watch this space: I note that Sutor does not state the reason given by the Portugal NB committee to exclude IBM, but it seems to be that they have adopted a jury-style system with a fixed number of committee members..)

(Added) From Zaine Ridling in a comment to the same post

"Since the US tech press isn't writing about this (nor about the weird situation in Chile), then I guess it will be filed under "Who cares?""

UPDATE #5a: From several "Rui Seabra" comments on Ed Brill's blog (which I would summarize as "The problem is that IBM and Sun were too late for seats on the committee, not chairs in the room")

"Ed: «According to Groklaw, he was Microsoft's representative at a standards committee meeting in Portugal...where the committee chair, a Microsoft employee, »
This is false, of course. It was the National Body sectorial organization who refused their presence."

UPDATE #5b: From several "Rui Seabra" comments on Ed Brill's blog

0. There was not a due and fair process of invitation. When the real rules were known, people had less than 48h to propose members to the TC.

1. The National Body sectorial organization (NBso) refused the entry to IBM and SUN *before* the meeting had occurred.

2. The NBso claimed that a) there was a maximum of 20, and b) representativity was achieved.

3. There was an average of 24 people seated in the room. There were at maximum 25 people in the room. The room could handle almost 30 people seated. The NBso had an auditorium and chose not to use it. Microsoft occupied 3 seats. NBso occupied 2 seats. ASSOFT (BSA alike) occupied 2 seats. Microsoft business partners occupied a few seats more (at least 5, maybe more).

4. Some people more appeared to the TC meeting who thought they had been accepted (invitation process was broken). They got inside because some TC members (noticeably not Microsoft nor its business partners) invited them to stay as experts.

UPDATE #5c: From several "Rui Seabra" comments on Ed Brill's blog

"Nathan: «@12 - RS claims that the issue wasn't that Sun and IBM were denied space on the committee. It's that they WEREN'T ALLOWED ENTRANCE INTO THE ROOM. "Applied after the deadline" is not the same as "showed up at a particular time at the meeting place."?»

Your understanding is wrong, there, Nathan. They were denied space on the committee.

(Added) From Roy Schestowitz's (who says he is a maintainer of Groklaw's New Picks) blog Voters on OOXML Up for 'Hire' in Italy

"It's not just Britain and it isn't just Portugal, either. Watch the following observation which comes from Italy. Voting on OOXML seems like a rather iffy business, not just in the United States.

From Groklaw

It seems there may have been more games played by Microsoft in the OOXML saga, or at the very least some confusion spread, and this time our story comes from Spain...

From Groklaw on the standards process in South Africa (he is MS' Jason Matusow):

Normally, bodies do follow the recommendations of the technical committee. And why wouldn't they? How else do you decide if an offering should be a standard? Stacking the decks to get the votes you want despite the technical concerns? I'm not sure I've understood him precisely, so perhaps he'll clarify.

From "Marbux" in a comment on Rob Weir's blog

It is the ANSI/INCITS process and procedures that are corrupt, not its TC members.
Allowing people with vested financial interests to cast ballots on federal government decisions also violates federal conflict of interest laws.

From "Anonymous" on the same comments list

How much do executive boards cost these days? Microsoft seems to have nearly unlimited pockets when it comes to bribing officials and paying off executives, so the OOXML standard is a merely a technicality.

(Added) From "anonymous" on Groklaw Newspicks comments responding to the following

"A source close to the voting process speculated that Microsoft might still attempt to cripple the process bureaucratically before the vote is taken internationally in September." James Archibald

Yes, they have done that in Malaysia already when it was clear that OOXML would not be accepted. They had the TC4 committee suspended.

From "mcrbids" on Slashdot

But just look at that graph! The lengths that Microsoft will go to in order to prevent people from being free of the vendor lock-in... Cash is king, and Microsoft has more available cash than many countries's GNP. How far can they corrupt the process? Probably far enough, with enough time and money, and the only holdback is the time.

(Added) From John Scholes' blog Current OpenXML ballot is unlawful

So now that we have dealt with how to vote, we should perhaps turn a more important issue: the ballot is unlawful. ... Why? Because the JTC1 Secretariat and ITTF (Information Technology Task Force) failed to follow the JTC1 Directives and ordinary principles of international law in dealing with the "contradictions" that were raised.

From "Stephane Rodriguez" on Doug Mahugh's blog first about hAl that

If you are not being paid by Microsoft for the FUD you are throwing, then in addition to being full of shit, you are really a lame bastard.


I am actually incorrect in stating that hAL is one of those poor schmucks going around the internet for gratuitous comments to make. The other one is Rick Jetliffe. After a quick scan of related blogs today, I have noticed he's in just about every comment area, with the exact same argument : OOXML cures cancer.

Whatever bribery buys...

UPDATE: I also get a rather milder mention this week from Roy Schestowitz

I'm sure you know this, but just to be 100% certain, Rick Jelliffe is consulting for Microsoft, he was paid by Microsoft to edit Wikipedia, and articles with/about him are anti-open formats.

Feel the love!