[nSLUG] more browser idiocy

George White aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Fri Aug 26 17:33:26 ADT 2005

ACM Technews had the following item:

"Copyright Program to Require Explorer"
Washington Post (08/25/05) P. D5; Krim, Jonathan

"Starting Oct. 24, artists can go online to pre-register certain works for
copyright protection with the U.S. Copyright Office, but are required to use
Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. Technologists and other experts object
to this requirement, claiming it gives preference to one browser and thus
restricts the open use of the World Wide Web. "It's a replay of the bad old
days when you built a Web site according to the behavior of an individual
browser," says World Wide Web Consortium policy official Daniel Weitzner. World
Wide Web creator and W3C director Timothy Berners-Lee points to the growing
importance of standards as people employ a widening variety of handheld devices
to go online, while Ari Schwartz with the Center for Democracy and Technology
recommends the government guarantee that the most number of tools and devices
can be used by implementing more rigorous scrutiny of technology contracts.
Berners-Lee says the firm hired to manage the copyright registration system and
database, Siebel Systems, could easily create a tool to ensure that other
browsers are compatible, but Siebel's Stacy Schneider claims her company cannot
guarantee such interoperability. She says Siebel follows W3C guidelines, but
does not certify that its products are compliant with all W3C standards;
rather, Siebel tests its products with the individual browsers its customers
most frequently use. Copyright Office COO Julia Huff says the Oct. 24 deadline
does not give Siebel enough time to modify its system to support other
browsers. Copyright Office officials say Internet Explorer was selected because
it is the dominant browser and presents the least potential problems for

I don't think this would be legal (due to accessiblity requirements) for a
website operated by a US company, but there are incentives within US Gov't to
promote MicroSoft and, to some extent, Apple, products.  The other trend is
for contractors to have people involved with technical organizations such as
Usenix disqualified from evaluating proposals because they might have an anti-MS
bias, so you have to assume that contracts like this are supervised by people
with limited or no technical insight.  I suppose you can take heart in the
knowledge that Siebel is shut out of the private sector market for similar
products and has to rely on know-nothing customers like the US Gov't.

George N. White III
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia


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