[Talk] Chilling effect?

michael.paddon at auug.org.au michael.paddon at auug.org.au
Tue Feb 24 16:10:03 EST 2004

Leon Brooks writes:
> Recently, a denizen of the PLUG mailing list asked the National 
> Australia Bank why they don't support Mozilla. NAB's reply amounted to 
> "because it's Open Source" and they have so far refused to explain how 
> this has any bearing on their policy.

If you support freedom, you support the idea of businesses being free to 
choose how they deliver their services. A business should have the right to 
demand that customers use a Commodore 64 in Apple II emulation mode, 
running lemmings as their GUI.

Similarly customers should have the freedom to choose with whom they will 
do business. Personally, I will never be a customer of NAB while they don't 
support standard broswer technology.

I think the right way to deal with these people is to calmly explain your 
expectations of customer service and, if they are not met, change to a 
different supplier. Westpac, for instance, works just fine with Mozilla.

Let's face it, if NAB were to lose even a couple of hundred mortgage 
accounts, things would probably change in a hurry.
On the other hand, we are talking about a bank that just lost hundreds of 
millions in bad trades. With that level of incompentance, anything could 
happen. :-)

> Yesterday, I had a discussion with a fellow FOSS advocate in which he 
> related to me that three of his customers (one Government department 
> and two over-$100M/a corporations) have recently said, point blank, 
> that they now have a policy of no Open Source at all, and that such 
> Open Source applications and/or operating systems as existed in the 
> company were to be promptly replaced.

The issue with the government department is potentially more disturbing, since they 
are (effectively) a monopoly.

If they are dictating proprietary software that I have to run to deal with
them, then that is completely unacceptable.

If it is purely internal systems, then it is still a concern since 
Commonwealth procurement guidelines require departments to select solutions 
based on value for money, open competition and fair dealing.

Name names. Which department is it? What are they mandating?
If there is cause, the best approach is to complain to you local MP
and to get as others as possihble to do the same.

> Have any of you run across this kind of behaviour (or more of it) just 
> in the last month or two?

There's certainly lots of web sites that only work with IE. In some cases, 
I've complained to the company, and they have fixed the problem. Result...
they got my business. Others haven't, and (in some cases) have foregone 
lucrative transactions.

I would generally say, however, that things are getting better, not worse
in terms of supporting multiple browsers. Interestingly, the few companies 
I've run across that don't are almost always either (a) Australian or (b) 
directly related to Microsoft.


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