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[News] When Governments Force Citizens to Purchase Proprietary Software

Brazilian government faces challenge over proprietary tax software

,----[ Quote ]
| Complaints about government services that are accessible only
| through proprietary software are increasingly common around the
| world. For instance, in the United States, the Federal Emergency
| Management Agency's Web site at one time would only accept disaster
| claims from survivors of Hurricane Katrina via Windows and Internet
| Explorer. Similarly, last spring's online census in Canada was
| accessible only through Windows or Mac OS X. What is unusual
| about the Brazilian situation is that it is unfolding against
| a background of increasing acceptance of free software, and
| that constitutional arguments may exist against it.
| [...]
| Whether the novel constitutional arguments will be upheld is
| still uncertain. For all the advances that free software has
| made in Brazil, proprietary software continues to have a firm
| foothold in government -- for example, Brazil's electronic
| ballots require Windows CE. As a result, the implications of
| the arguments are sweeping enough that they are unlikely to
| be accepted without careful scrutiny. However, should they
| fail, the FSFLA has one final argument. The software, Oliva
| notes, is unaccompanied by a license -- which is, in itself,
| illegal. "Per Brazilian law, using software requires a license
| or a proof of purchase," Oliva says. "Therefore, its use by
| any taxpayer is a copyright violation. When taxpayers are
| required to use such software to be able to comply with their
| tax obligations, the government is demanding citizens break
| the law.


Recent related news:

E-Voting Raises New Questions in Brazil

,----[ Quote ]
| Some Brazilians are lobbying the tribunal to switch from Windows CE to
| an open-source operating system for the voting machines, since Microsoft
| Corp., citing trade secrecy, won't allow independent audits to make
| sure malicious programmers haven't inserted commands to "flip" votes
| from one candidate to another.
| [...]
| Fontoura confirmed that Brazil is considering a move away from
| crosoft's proprietary code -- "We are studying the possibility of using an 
| open-source program like Linux in future elections. This would make the 
| entire process much more transparent and far less expensive," he said.


Beeb breaks out with Windows WMA protection

,----[ Quote ]
| According to a press release from Sonos, the blokes over
| at the Beeb have decided to jump ship for relying on
| Realplayer for web content, and have switched over
| entirely to the Windows-friendly WMA format. Now
| that the BBC has made The Big Switch, BBC radio
| stations will be received automatically for users
| of wireless music and radio provider Sonos.


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