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EU Will Not Divulge Microsoft Contracts 219

Posted by kdawson
from the move-along-no-public-interest-here dept.
Elektroschock writes "Marco Cappato, a Liberal member of the European Parliament, wanted to inspect the EU's contracts with Microsoft. His request was denied. '...the [divulging] of [this] information could jeopardize the protection of commercial interest of Microsoft.' Apparently the European Council sees no clear public interest in the release of such contractual material, and so 'the Secretariat general concludes that the protection of Microsoft's commercial interests, being one of the commercial partners of the European institutions, prevails on the [divulging] for the public interest.'"
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EU Will Not Divulge Microsoft Contracts

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  • by tobiah (308208) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:06PM (#25724999)

    [Blocked] It has been determined that the contents of this comment do not serve the public interest.
    -The Secretariate General-

    • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnu ... org minus distro> on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:19PM (#25726037) Homepage

      What really fascinates me is that the people high up in the EU governance food chain think that the business interests of a US company is more important to the citizens of the European Union than information about what their money is being spent on.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        except that I think we can guess what some of Microsoft's money is being spent on here.....

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Microsoft pays taxes in every country where it has headquarters... that's at least France, the UK and Germany, and probably most of the other European countries.

      • by mrmeval (662166)

        I may be misinformed but in the US, goverment contracts are public except in very narrow situations such as classified military projects and intelligence agencies.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      It's okay. We all learned about this kinda stuff back in primary school - context clues.

      Judging from the information at hand, I would say that the message somehow relates to chilled urine.

  • by MeNotU (1362683) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:08PM (#25725031)
    Only took 7 years!
  • anytime soon...

    What a disappointment!

    I guess the request should be accompanied by a request to investigate some misconduct in order to be of clear public interest.

    I think the accusation would be enough incentive to open up the contracts. If they don't, it should be considered evidence of misconduct and an attempt to cover it up.

  • ...the EU may be correct in this case - depending.

    For public projects and the like, sure - the taxpayers have a right to know. OTOH, for military use and various secret services (I don't know if the EU has any of either, but I can see respective militaries and such among member nations pooling VLKs and the like through the EU), there's a lot of things the public doesn't necessarily have a compelling need to know about.

    One question though - does the EU disclose contract and/or payment info for any other vend

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poetmatt (793785)

      I would imagine they would give a response like "please provide more specificity" if they simply felt it was too vague.

      FOIA's are that way (you do realize a pretty big trade agreement is the source of all the FOIA-related bills going around country to country nowadays), that was the response I got when I FOIA'd the ACTA agreement before it hit major press coverage...it was only then that I started getting dancing answers about how we can't see that information.

      What I'd love to see, is a law stating that you

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        What I'd love to see, is a law stating that you cannot refuse to provide information on anything requested from a FOIA, provided that it is specific enough.

        "I'd like to have the location of all nuclear missile silos within 25 miles of New York City."

        Yeah, that idea needs a bit of work.

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          You see though, the problem wouldn't be the FOIA, the problem would be that somehow we are supposedly safer without that information. You think someone can't just find that stuff on the web?

          If I google "locations of new york missile silos" you find enough that I'm sure you could dig info on where they are located.

          Thus, it's the same viewpoint: not that private citizens should be bound to this, merely our government.

  • by Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:20PM (#25725201)
    So let me make sure I understand ... this is basically the EU equivalent of a United States Senator [Marco Cappato, a Liberal member of the European Parliament] asking the House of Representatives [the European Council] for a contract the House negotiated on behalf of the government and getting denied?
    • by Duckie01 (10586) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:29PM (#25725359)

      So let me make sure I understand ... this is basically the EU equivalent of a United States Senator [Marco Cappato, a Liberal member of the European Parliament] asking the House of Representatives [the European Council] for a contract the House negotiated on behalf of the government and getting denied?

      Well yes at least to my understanding that would, unfortunately, be quite accurate.

      I'm a EU citizen... I don't like this *at*all*.

    • So let me make sure I understand ... this is basically the EU equivalent of a United States Senator [Marco Cappato, a Liberal member of the European Parliament] asking the House of Representatives [the European Council] for a contract the House negotiated on behalf of the government and getting denied?

      Actually, I think this is the EU equivalent of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives asking the U.S. Administration (the European Council) for information on how it is spending money.

    • The European Parliament would be the equivalent of the House of Representatives. The European Council is a council comprising the heads of state of the member countries.

  • Not even half a lifetime after getting rid of one sowiet union, we're getting another.

    I dont know, every time I read how the EU managed to get away another piece of our rights I wonder, why do these oligarchist fucks cling on to calling their bueraucratic regime a "democracy" at all? Why dont they just proclaim a open dictatorship so I can move to Switzerland finally? How did the swiss manage to be the ONLY nation on earth where the people control their politicians and not vice versa and keep defending thei

  • (waves hand) These are not the contracts you're looking for. Move along.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:28PM (#25725337) Homepage

    It's not in the public interest to know how much public money MSFT is getting and for what? It's a certainty MSFT doesn't want it getting out how much of a discount government agencies are getting, and what other inducements they're tossing in to sweeten the deal. If it gets out gov agencies are paying $50/seat for Windows, every other enterprise customer will want that deal. I'm not sure how keeping that secret is in the public interest...unless they're worried MS will raise the price if it gets out.

    If it were up to me...if the taxpayer buys it, the taxpayer owns it. And that would be true for software, or at least for the licenses. Imagine if the federal government could negotiate for government wide enterprise license deals. If the Navy closed a program, they could take the software licenses they don't need and transfer them to the Marines or another gov agency. I always thought it should be that way. What's MS going to do about it? Not sell to the government? Yeah, that would be smart, drive gov adoption of open source.

    • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:36PM (#25725457)

      It's not in the public interest to know how much public money MSFT is getting and for what?

      That's not what is being claimed. The information IS in the public interest -- the argument is that Microsoft's commercial interest is MORE IMPORTANT than the public interest. Which I think is even worse-sounding that what you said.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        No, it's still in the government's interest not to scare Microsoft away from ever bidding on government business because the government can't keep to an NDA.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CSHARP123 (904951)
      I think everybody knows there are discounts involved in the licenses. At a govt client site for Share point server, we needed CALs for about 15K laptops and 45K desktops. The total cost without discount would have been approx. $2000000. with the discount it came to about approx $420,000. I think this is common with private enterprises too.
      • why was that sale not bid out to other software vendors after you wrote up the specs for the system? That's the problem. You did not choose a lower priced tool, but a common and expensive one. Nobody will know because the total amount of money paid to Microsoft will never be revealed for anybody to contest.

      • by mpe (36238)
        At a govt client site for Share point server, we needed CALs for about 15K laptops and 45K desktops. The total cost without discount would have been approx. $2000000. with the discount it came to about approx $420,000. I think this is common with private enterprises too.

        Thing is that the CALs are purely a money making scheme in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blair1q (305137)

      It's in the public's interest to know that the people who brokered your end of the deal were trustworthy and capable of striking a fair bargain.

      It's not in the public's interest to abuse that negotiator's view into a company's proprietary information.

      Companies will simply stop selling your government the things it needs to be more efficient, or will insist on huge fees to compensate for loss of intellectual property.

    • by kocsonya (141716)

      As any EU Council member would point it out, your problem is that you think about yourself as "taxpaying citizen".
      Now that's completely wrong. Try "serf" instead.

      The EU has been marching towards a new feudalism for a long time. It's no accident that when the EU Constitution (that would give the Council even more power and even less oversight) was voted down, it was quickly renamed to 'treaty' so that the people need not be asked about it (except that Ireland was not playing ball).

      The EU serves the interests

  • by Spatial (1235392) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:34PM (#25725437)
    It's not in the public interest. Of course not! How would we know it was, since we can't see it? And since we can't see it, the problem doesn't exist!

    Governments shouldn't be allowed to deny access to information of that sort. Oh, we're just signing this in your name and at your expense. What?! You want to see it? Hahaha!
  • More and more... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:47PM (#25725593) Journal
    Almost EVERYTHING governments do is not in the public interest.
  • by The_Other_Kelly (44440) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:48PM (#25725613) Journal

    This is why Ireland said NO to the Lisbon treaty.

    When you see the response of other EU nations,
    you can *feel* the arrogance. Not just to the citizens,
    but to smaller nations.

    The EU is losing touch with basic democratic principles,
    especially the concept of Accountability.

    They have forgotten that they are servants of the people,
    and need to be reminded.

    • This has nothing to do with the Lisbon treaty; and in fact the treaty would have made the parliament more powerful over the council, so you're just wrong.

    • by kocsonya (141716)

      About this reminding... Should we all just send them a postcard, with a big "1789" written on it?

      By the way, the system used on Tranai (see Robert Sheckley) is pretty efficient to keep the people's opinion in mind: every public servant has a big seal hanging from the neck. Now every citizen can go to the Voting Booth at any time and press the "like" or "dislike" button by the name of any politician. If there are too many "dislike"-s, then the seal, well, undergoes a very rapid exothermic behaviour, thus mak

      • By the way, the system used on Tranai (see Robert Sheckley) is pretty efficient to keep the people's opinion in mind: every public servant has a big seal hanging from the neck. Now every citizen can go to the Voting Booth at any time and press the "like" or "dislike" button by the name of any politician. If there are too many "dislike"-s, then the seal, well, undergoes a very rapid exothermic behaviour, thus making the position vacant for an eager, new and hopefully more popular politician.

        I prefer the syst

  • by rossz (67331) <ogre@@@geekbiker...net> on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:01PM (#25725787) Homepage Journal

    Years ago when the idea of the EU was starting to form into something real, I commented to friends that it had the potential to make something great. I also said that given how governments loved control, it was pretty much guaranteed that they would fuck it up beyond belief. I nailed it (unfortunately).

    • This is a pretty minor setback. The Parliament and then the Commission have, for example, rejected the three strike BS, as well as software patents in the past, for example.

      And on top of that this is just an isolated story without any context. Don't make a mountain out of it. This is probably something that needs looking into though.

  • Did the Republicans move to Europe?

  • I wonder if Tony Soprano could use this same defense.

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