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With a focus on open source and digital rights, Simon is a director of the UK's Open Rights Group and president of the Open Source Initiative. He is also managing director of UK consulting firm Meshed Insights Ltd.

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Cabinet Office Acts On Discovery Of Undisclosed Conflict Of Interest

The UK Government Open Standards Consultation faces substantial change as the result of the exposure of an undisclosed Microsoft relationship.

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In a remarkable development last night resonant of the revelations in the Leveson inquiry, the Cabinet Office voided the findings of the first open standards consultation round-table on the grounds that it's facilitator had a previously undisclosed relationship with Microsoft. The news posting on the Cabinet Office web site also announced that an extra month has been added to the process, so that the consultation meeting can be run again.

As both ComputerWeekly's Mark Ballard and ComputerWorld's Glyn Moody have discovered, there has been extensive behind-the-scenes manoeuvring to re-open the Government's position on open standards and protect the incumbent suppliers to the government, so the discovery of an over-cozy relationship in this area of the government's business too is no real surprise.

The extra time will be welcomed by many, but I expect to see a renewed push for the sophistry that claims standards with restrictions on who can implement them are somehow preferable to standards anyone can freely implement. That's clearly untrue, as I wrote on Wednesday. The extension also means you've extra time to submit your responses; please do.


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