Corrupting Standards to Privatize the Public Good

Flying way under the radar, the World Wide Web Consortium is getting ready to turn its valuable open standards process into a tool of corporate giants, via a “Patent Policy Framework” that is a sickening betrayal of the W3C’s mandate.

This posting in opposition by Alan Cox is as good a description of the problem as I’ve seen. “A patent-encumbered web threatens the very freedom of intellectual debate,
allowing only large companies and big media houses to present information
in certain ways,” Cox says accurately.

Like almost everyone else, I missed this outrageous plan when it was first proposed. It’s all to obvious that the W3C and the companies behind this scheme hoped to make it a fait accompli before the Net community realized what was happening. Thieves in the night are more visible.

Who’s behind it? According to this posting, “W3C Members Apple, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, ILOG, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, The Open Group, Philips Electronics, Reuters, and Sun worked on this draft together with W3C Team members.” Do you see anyone in that group representing the open source community, or the public in general? Nope, and it’s not a coincidence.

If the W3C goes ahead with this proposal, a valuable organization will destroy its credibility as an institution that has the public interest in mind. It will be a visible tool of its most powerful members. I fear that the outcome is pre-ordained, but I hope I’m wrong.

Today is the deadline for comments. I implore you to .

Thanks to Tim Bray, Dave Winer, Slashdot, Linux Today and others who learned, however late, of this plot and started warning people.


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