John Pugh is a national treasure: an MP who actually understands technology. And he's proved it again with this very pertinent letter to the head of the BSI, which seems poised on the brink of doing something very silly. It's so good it's worth quoting in its entirety:
Director of British Standards
389 Chiswick High Road
Dear Mr Low,
I am deeply concerned that some national bodies have considered approving DIS29500 "in their national interest".
It is not in the interest of the UK or any other country for DIS 29500 to be published as an international standard in its present form as there are a significant number of unresolved issues, including incompatible licensing conditions, single vendor interest and control as well as those other
factors uncovered since the original comment period closed. There is also the issue that is no current form of DIS 29500, as yet another exception to the process was made regarding the presentation of the proposed changes.
Issues raised by the BSI and others during the original 30 day objections phase have also never been properly addressed, not least of which is the unsuitability of such a large and complex specification of an unproven format to the fast track process.
Such a standard, if approved, would govern the manipulation of all future documents and lock users into a single supplier environment. The OOXML specification contains significant Intellectual Property Rights and other traps which will:
- Stifle competition
- Diminish innovation overall
- Severely restrict consumer choice
- Block Government choice
- Limit the ability of UK SMEs to innovate and compete
I thought you would like to be aware that I have tabled a parliamentary PQ as follows:
"Can the Minister reassure me that the British Standards Institute that operates as our National Body under a memorandum of understanding from the Government will not change its stance on the currently unavailable text for the proposed standardisation of OOXML without proper consultation."
May I urge that the BSI uphold its admirable principles and does not approve DIS29500 in its present form.
John Pugh M.P.
Let's hope this sensible suggestion is taken up.