[LINK] Standards Australia's standard for "conflict of interest"

Glen Turner gdt at gdt.id.au
Wed Feb 20 18:41:56 EST 2008

On Wed, 2008-02-20 at 15:08 +1100, Roger Clarke wrote:

> 3.  The person was the subject of accusations of unethical behaviour in
>      relation to adaptations made to the Wikipedia pages on the topic

That's too strong.  To Rick Jelliffe's credit he has always been upfront
about who is paying the piper for the work he does. He claims that those
payments don't alter his judgment, and he seems sincere enough in his

His paid-for-by-Microsoft editing of Wikipedia was controversial
for two reasons.
 1)  I don't think Wikipedia editors dreamed that Wikipedia was
     significant enough for lobbyists to mess with. This was the
     first major incidence of that. Since the release of the tool
     to attach organisation names to Wikipedia edit IP addresses
     they're a lot less naive.
 2)  Paid-for editing confronts one of the core values of the
     Wikipedia editors -- the "assume good faith" guideline.

My problem with Rick's presence on the delegation is simply that
he's a major contributor to the Response, and that leads to a
pretty obvious conflict of interest.

It would have been better if Microsoft/ECMA paid Rick's way and he be
available to the BRM delegations as the resource to put ECMA's point of
view in more detail than in the Response.  That is, being available to
explain his work, but not being available to evaluate his work.

Certainly Standards Australia should not have selected him as
their technical advisor for their Delegation. There's no excuse for
that -- both ECMA and Rick were up-front in the Response in
acknowledging his contribution.  I've no idea what Standards
Australia were thinking when they asked Rick onto their two-person

> Is this a suitable matter for ISOC to take up?

Yes. The abuse of the ECMA-->ISO fast track by various vendors
means were going to have more of this and Standards Australia
need to get their house in order. I think Microsoft want the
rubber stamp for their Silverlight PDF/Flash alternative next.

> Is there another organisation that it should come from?

I would have hoped for a more upset response from Linux Australia
for this particular instance.

> (As a longstanding member of the ACS, I'd have liked to think it 
> would have played a role.  But it's been very conservative in the 
> last few years, and prefers to be seen as a responsible organisation 
> that doesn't say things that Ministers might not like to hear. 
> Anyone able to disabuse me on this, please do so!).

Standards Australia need help. They aren't a technical organisation,
and I don't think they are used to the norms of the international
standards-making process in IT and telecommunications.  I think if
a non-threatening body such as the ACS offered that help then an
effective reform of Standards Australia's activities in this space
could happen.

I would hope that the ACS does state a view and offer help to
Standards Australia. The alternative is that the free software
community is at continual loggerheads with a disfunctioning
Standards Australia and eventually the free software community
ignores these devalued international standards and creates their
own competing standards.

We went through that process before with the IETF making standards
for the Internet after being rejected by ISO, and it was unpleasant
and deeply damaging to ISO.  You'll notice that ISO have completely
vacated standards-making in computer networking. The current
situation could lead to that happening for IT.

Best wishes, Glen

Glen Turner <http://www.gdt.id.au/~gdt/>
0416 295 857 or +61 416 295 857

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