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I read that differently
Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Wednesday, October 24 2007 @ 05:58 PM CDT
Rick and Winter,

First, thanks for engaging in a fascinating debate here, which I've enjoyed reading and hesitate to interrupt.  That said, here are a few observations:

1.  Rick, I appreciate your first-hand perspective from SC 34 and elsewhere.  Despite having knocked around the standards world for 20 years, all of my knowledge about what actually goes on in ISO/iEC committees is second hand.  So thanks for the insight.

2.  Both:  Regarding the WTO:  What the WTO requires, and what interested parties actually do, are two different things, for better or worse.  Unlike the ITU, which deals in frequencies that wil reliably propagate, ISO/IEC standards are voluntary.  The WTO has no prosecutors - it's only a structure within which affected parties (nations, and industries that lobby their governments to speak on their behalf) can bring greivances and, after a long and drawn out process, eventually achieve some sort of  result - often with few teeth.  Recall the US tariffs on steel in the early Bush years.  Other countries brought (justified) complaints, and the US fought it up to the point where sanctions could have applied, and then backed down.  There's no way that (for example) someone in Sweden could bring a WTO complaint against their own government about (for example) OOXML - because they don't have any standing (this would be an intranational, not an international complaint, and the WTO is exclusively international).  Moreover, as Rick points out, neither specification is national.

3.  Regardless of what the WTO says, or what "when appropriate" legally might mean, it's what countries do that matters.  In this case, as noted in the previous point, what Europe chooses to do isn't a WTO issue.  It may be an issue under EU law - as interpreted by the EU.

4.  No government is going to adopt standards that nobody uses, even if ISO/IEC has adopted them (there are examles), whatever the rules say.

Finally, I should say that I don't know as much about what goes on in EU purchasing in fact, as compared to what (for example) the IDABC may say.

Net net, what I'd suggest is that you look to the past history of how the EU has actually exercised its purchasing power vis-a-vis ISO/IEC adopted standards.  That's probably the most significant data - and what the vendors involved will certainly be looking to, rather than the WTO.

All that said, I look forward to your next posts.

  -  Andy
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