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Observers of recent legislative action in Sacramento should be forgiven for thinking they have been transported back to 2002, when policy makers were pushing government mandated software standards and micromanagement of cell phone companies. Five years later, in 2007, the same bad policies are being recycled -- with one saving grace. Back in 2002, open source zealots tried to convince California legislators to pass the "Digital Software Security Act," which would have forced state agencies to use open source software exclusively.
Ms. Arrison seems to think that mandating open formats will hamstring some software vendors. She's wrong. Whose fault is it that Microsoft chose not to participate in the ODF standard? That's right - Microsoft's. There is no such thing as an open standard that hamstrings software vendors. By definition, any vendor is free to implement an open standard. The California bill in question, AB 1668, specifically allows for proprietary software implementations of an open format. Also, I'd like to point out that once OOXML becomes a certified ISO standard, it will also qualify under the terms of the bill. Furthermore, Microsoft, in opposing the open source bills in 2002, made a big deal about open standards and how supporting them was more advantageous than supporting open source. It was apparently an argument of convenience, seeing as how they no longer advocate such a position.
Lastly, it's disturbing that Ms. Arrison doesn't see the value in guaranteeing citizens access to information. The only way to do that without erecting artificial barriers to entry is with open standards. In taking her position, Ms. Arrison has become an unwitting opponent of basic human rights. She seems to believe that we don't have guaranteed access to information. That's a shame, because our modern society has never, until now, restricted access to information. We will not rest until we have guaranteed protection, under the law, and recognition of these inalienable rights.