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EU Will Not Divulge Microsoft Contracts 219

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 jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:11PM (#25725071)

    To much government control leads to more red tape. With more levels of red tape you have people who realize they won't get fired if they Say No, but can get fired if they say Yes. Saying No is easy and safe. If you are on records of saying no and it fails you are safe. If you say no and it succeeds anyways you are still safe. If you say Yes and it fails your are in trouble. If you say Yes and it succeeds you may get promoted. However around the middle level of Red Tape you have a lot of people who don't care to get promoted they are happy where they are. So after you get a couple levels in you get a Lot of No's.

    This also happens in large companies too. However many companies have a policy of cleaning out middle management every once in a while. I am not saying other more capitalistic systems don't have pitfalls and problems, and for this request if it was a private company they would have said no way faster then the EU. However a lawsuit requesting the information may go threw much quicker in a company then with a government agency.

  • Re:What Rights? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blowdart ( 31458 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:15PM (#25725129) Homepage
    Nor is this a Microsoft issue; even if that's the only way to get it onto slashdot. Generally no contractual information like this is ever revealed; the UK government (for example) always refuses requests like this, even when people try to find out how much failed systems, or failed buildings cost.
  • Re:What Rights? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:19PM (#25725187)

    The US government is actually quite open, more open then you realize. Only when it comes to military/security information US is quite about it. Just tune to CSPAN 1,2,3,4,5... and you can watch most everything that is happening with the legislative area of our federal government, and every law passed or failed. Know what the debate was etc... It is that most of us are to lazy to actually look at the information and say it is a closed government. No they won't tell the general public about their brand new airplanes that can fire a laser at a top secret satellite to have it bounce back and kill a target half way around the world. But for the laws that get passed there is actually good transparency and I bet if you needed to you can find out how much they are paying Microsoft for their licenses.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @04:30PM (#25725371)

    How the hell you link this to socialism is beyond my comprehension. I don't think you know what the word means.

  • 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!
  • 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.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:03PM (#25725831) Journal

    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 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 cannot refuse to provide information on anything requested from a FOIA, provided that it is specific enough.

  • Re:What Rights? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:48PM (#25726373) Homepage

    *THAT* is likely to be the correct answer. Microsoft plays very fast and very lose with their pricing when threats to their monopoly are encountered. My guess is that their prices dipped to near-zero while they were being prosecuted in European courts in order to help influence opinion about Microsoft... and/or possibly fluctuations may be observed around the time that OOXML was up for ISO vote as well.

  • Re:What Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:48PM (#25726385)

    I don't think GP was suggesting that Microsoft should be treated differently to any other (potential) government contractor. If someone wins a contract and produces crap, they are liable (depending on terms of contract, I suppose)

    Yep. Although it's so expensive to hold them to that liability that it's hardly ever done.

    get a bad reputation and are not hired again

    Nope. When I was assessing bids under EU contract rules I had to do it according to a strict points scheme, and was specifically not allowed to take past performance of the company into account. I was only permitted to assess the bid based on the actual contents of the bid. That was a few years ago now, but I don't think it's changed.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @05:58PM (#25726483) Journal

    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.

  • Re:What Rights? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 11, 2008 @06:11PM (#25726633)

    In Sweden contractual information has to be made public when dealing with the government, punsihable by criminal law.

    Sucks to live in the UK.

  • Re:What Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2008 @09:40AM (#25732545)

    This was interestingly the case he, Capatto asked whether also about the open source study that was withdrawn. The Council says it had no copy and he should rather go to the historic archives in Luxembourg. That is odd.

    "...has not keep any copy of the Study. The Secretariat general suggests to ask a copy to the interistututional committee on informatics' archives."

    Marco Capatto is also pro-Free Software []

    And other MEPs are asking questions as well: Georgios Papastamkos (PPE-DE) to the Commission: Commission's procurement of computer software []

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes