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Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too - Updated 2Xs
Monday, March 24 2008 @ 01:17 PM EDT

More OOXML news. The Cuban National Bureau of Standards has reportedly sent an email to the three names NBs are supposed to notify at ISO, Toshiko Kimura, Keith Brannon, and Martine Gaillen, reporting that Cuba votes to disapprove OOXML.

But the startling news is that the email claims that Cuba voted no in September but that its vote was miscounted.

Update: I checked the new rules, and I see that the email is supposed to go to Maho Takahashi, Brannon and Gaillen. I'd say, based on that, the email, if it is authentic, would need to be resent and redone to fully meet the new rules.

Update 2: Here's confirmation that this is, in fact, authentically the Cuban vote:

La Oficina Nacional de Normalización de Cuba (NC) que representa al país ante la Organización Internacional de Normalización ISO (International Organization for Standardization) e IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) informa a todas las partes interesadas en los temas informáticos, así como a todos los usuarios de las páginas Web de dichas organizaciones y otras vinculadas a las tecnologías de la información que el voto de Cuba sobre el referido proyecto de Norma Internacional es de DESAPROBACIÓN (2007-08-31, 2008-03-20), el cual se sustenta en los comentarios y argumentos que siguen, los cuales han sido presentados al Secretariado Central de la ISO siguiendo los trámites oficiales establecidos en los procedimientos que rige la votación sobre los proyectos de Normas Internacionales.

It also confirms that this was Cuba's vote originally.

If you recall, the public announcement by ISO in September said that Cuba had voted to approve, which led to puzzlement. Not so, says the email, which was sent on Friday evening and broadly cc'd, including to all the NBs, perhaps to ensure there was no confusion this time. Cuba was deeply injured by the false report, the email says. Cuba voted no with comments in September. It never approved OOXML.

Cuba lists the reasons for its vote of disapproval: that we don't need another format standard for documents, because ODF exists; OOXML really is only useful for Microsoft Office; Cuba believes there are security concerns with any Microsoft software, in addition to monopoly and patent issues with OOXML; Microsoft refused to support ODF; its legacy documents required you to use their software, enabling vendor lock in; Cuba supports truly open standards.

This saga just gets more and more confusing. If Cuba is an O Member, as I recall it to be (although I don't see it listed by name on the ISO list for SC 34, although the Cuba page includes SC 34 in its JTC1 list), does it get to vote? We were told O Members were allowed to vote at the BRM, but I've been unable to find anything in print that says that was appropriate. But the September vote was valid, certainly, so if this is in relation to a change, then it would seem to be valid too. It alters the totals for the September vote, at a minimum, although it in no way alters the outcome, which was to disapprove. Does anyone know at this point what is happening? How are votes verified? Or emails, for that matter? What is the process? How does anyone know if this email is authentic? Did Cuba touch all the necessary bases in the new rules? I'm trying to find out. If it's true that Cuba's September vote was miscounted, it highlights that there can be problems in such a closed system. And the bottom line to me is that a process that worked perfectly well when folks all trusted each other falls into chaos when there are allegations of dirty tricks or undue pressure. At that point, verification becomes a lot more important.

You probably also want to read Open Malaysia Blog today, "How to Royally Annoy National Bodies". There is a letter from the Chairman of the Malaysian National Standards Committee on E-Commerce, SIRIM TC4, responding most forcefully to what he calls inaccuracies ("Dear Doug, I am surprised and appalled to read your blog and its many inaccuracies.") in Microsoft's Doug Mahugh's account of a recent meeting in Malaysia Mahugh tried to attend.

Just to reiterate the new rules, here's what NBs are supposed to do:

* Vote change shall be communicated by email addressed to Keith Brannon ... as well as Maho Takahashi ..., Martine Gaillen ... and yourself on copy.

* The following shall be indicated in the subject. "Modification to the vote on DIS 29500 - Country (National Body/e.g. JISC)"

* The name of sender shall be mentioned in the email.

And Harish Pillay has posted on his blog the IEEE Code of Ethics, comparing it to the OOXML process:

I am finding that the ooxml debate is not compliant with my ethics. I have seen/read/know of items related to #4 above and seen efforts to undermine #5 above.

Ultimately, it is a battle of corporate interests against technical accuracy. Throwing out ooxml in its current form to the original authors to come back with all the proposed fixes included and to submit to a proper non-expedited process is what we need. I do not want my country to be held accountable to agreeing or disagreeing to something that has issues - even if these "issues" can be resolved post-approval.

Many people are arguing that an abstain vote would be a good one. I think that is a cop out, because the ISO voting scheme would then ignore abstentions. Look at the way the BRM votes went. The vast majority of delegations abstained, and when things were counted, the yea sayers were way less than 20%. How is that then a consensus? I continue to be troubled by all of this.

So you know what he's talking about, here is how the Code of Ethics reads:

We, the members of the IEEE, in recognition of the importance of our technologies in affecting the quality of life throughout the world, and in accepting a personal obligation to our profession, its members and the communities we serve, do hereby commit ourselves to the highest ethical and professional conduct and agree:

1. to accept responsibility in making decisions consistent with the safety, health and welfare of the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might endanger the public or the environment;

2. to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible, and to disclose them to affected parties when they do exist;

3. to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data;

4. to reject bribery in all its forms;

5. to improve the understanding of technology, its appropriate application, and potential consequences;

6. to maintain and improve our technical competence and to undertake technological tasks for others only if qualified by training or experience, or after full disclosure of pertinent limitations;

7. to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others;

8. to treat fairly all persons regardless of such factors as race, religion, gender, disability, age, or national origin;

9. to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action;

10. to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development and to support them in following this code of ethics.


Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too - Updated 2Xs | 148 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too
Authored by: nb on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 01:27 PM EDT
It is clear from the directives that the votes of O-Members count with regard to approval / disapproval, although they count less than the votes of P-members.

At the BRM IMO the votes of O-Members should not have been counted, altough that is a bit less clear.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This proves it
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 01:34 PM EDT
It's a communist conspiracy!


[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: pallmall on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 01:37 PM EDT
(like the cuba vote?)

Groklaw! -- If I had better things to do, I'd still be doing this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT-Off Topic thread here
Authored by: pallmall on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 01:39 PM EDT
Please make links clickable.

Groklaw! -- If I had better things to do, I'd still be doing this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Discussions here
Authored by: pallmall on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 01:40 PM EDT
Please make links clickable.

Groklaw! -- If I had better things to do, I'd still be doing this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

WTO question: OOMXL-standard-spolier as restraint of trade?
Authored by: tce on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 01:48 PM EDT
Could some WTO member, like say Cuba or Antigua*, view the corporate push for
OOXML as a spoiler to an existing International Standard as some kind of
restraint of trade grievance with the WTO?

Would China, India, or say Kenya consider such a move?

*of online gambling WTO battle w/ USA.

The current administration does not speak for this citizen.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Cuba believes there are security concerns with any Microsoft software..."
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 02:05 PM EDT
Now I am concerned. Not about the security concerns, but, that I find myself in
agreement with the Cubans. How would Barry Goldwater feel about this?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too - Open Malaysia Blog
Authored by: Rooks on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 02:21 PM EDT
I dunno PJ, I've been following some blog posts by Doug Mahugh and Yoon Kit from
all weekend, it doesn't look like its getting any friendlier.

I would think it makes sense when a TC says "no vendors allowed" that
they would actually mean what they say, but that's just me.

Other than that I'm gonna take "observer" status on this one and let
them duke it out. There's more mud in the air right now than there will be for
all of the 2008 US presidential election.


If experience was so important, we'd never have had anyone walk on the moon.
~Doug Rader

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 02:46 PM EDT
Is Cuba still embargoed for the purposes of export of Microsoft software from
the USA ?

If so, there are no implementations of OOXML that you could deploy in Cuba. So
it's hardly surprising that they consider it a useless 'standard'.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So They are not Changing Their Vote Then?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 03:20 PM EDT
If Cuba originally voted "no", then as far as they are concerned, they are not actually changing their vote. Does this mean then that they don't have to confirm their present vote "in writing"?

If they don't send a letter ("in writing") to confirm their present vote, will the ISO committee head decide to count it as a "yes" on the grounds that the previous "yes" recorded by the ISO still stands? Which actually stands here, what the NB said they voted, or what the ISO recorded?

I can see a nice way of ballot stuffing a vote conducted in this manner if the vote were close enough and if someone were so inclined (not that I know that the ISO would do so). Just record the votes of enough of the less prominent NB members as "approve". Next, state that any questions NBs may have about their vote are to be addressed directly to the committee head. The committee head could then tell each of them "oh sorry, we made a clerical mistake in recording your vote, but one vote isn't enough to change the result so we won't bother issuing a correction". Given the number of NBs and national languages involved, it may go unnoticed outside that country.

If people have contacts at each of the NBs, it may be a good idea to do an independent vote count along with how that vote came to be recorded that way.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's quite interesting
Authored by: GLJason on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 04:01 PM EDT

People from Microsoft act with indignation and seem unable to believe it when they don't get their way. It's outrageous that someone would be forced into a hall during a technical committee meeting. He grabbed his laptop and left saying he had to catch a flight, was he going to skip the flight if he were allowed to stay? If he would have sat outside the meeting for a few minutes he would have been allowed back in as an observer, but he decided a rant on his MSDN blog was better. I can barely imagine the arrogance of someone thinking they can just fly in and attend a technical committee meeting of another country.

Poor little Microsoft, they are a monopoly yet their powers don't seem to grant them everything they wish in an open process. They stacked the Malaysia technical meeting last year, yet everyone from the Microsoft side only talked about business reasons for OOXML. That is not what the committee was for at all. The meeting was specifically to discuss technical issues with the proposed standard and the Microsoft representatives couldn't even answer technical questions about it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 04:15 PM EDT
The only product that implements this beast ( DIS 29500, OOXML ) , Office 2007 can't be legally used in Cuba om/exporting/faq.htm#embargo

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ethics and Microsoft - ZERO out of 10
Authored by: qu1j0t3 on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 05:12 PM EDT
Their behaviour spectacularly violates all ten items in the Code.

I have a semicolon and I'm not afraid to use it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too
Authored by: dio gratia on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 05:32 PM EDT
Cuba lists themselves (cuban website) as an O member for JTC 1 and any subcommittees. I dug out the spreadsheet I did on the vote for tallying the vote criteria, and if the Normas Cubanas (NC) vote which was shown as approval was switched to disapprove, the disapproval percentage would go from 26.09% to 27.54%.

It certainly gives the O members a voice in the process, eh? Do you think Microsoft might convince the U.S. administration to normalize relations with Cuba this week? Maybe we'll see another 'rule change' for how the total disapproving affects the outcome?

[ Reply to This | # ]

friendly country?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 06:09 PM EDT
Parent wrote ...
"Would they need a tunnel to a friendly country
to obtain software activation?"

I would not consider any country that helps enable
activation of MS software to be friendly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

This raises a lot of questions
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 06:40 PM EDT

Assuming that the email is real,

1) How come Cuba didn't notice this before?

2) If they did notice this why didn't they say so?

3) If it was miscounted how did this happen?

4) Were any other countries miscounted?

5) What is ISO doing to make sure that miscounts don't occur in future (assuming
that this was a miscount, and that Cuba didn't mark the wrong spot on the

6) Did someone on the Cuban delegation deliberately vote for instead of

That's what comes to mind at present. Inquiring minds want to know (at least
this inquiring mind wants to know).


[ Reply to This | # ]

*Official* Results of September Vote Needed
Authored by: John Hasler on Monday, March 24 2008 @ 09:13 PM EDT
Can anyone point me to the official results of the September DIS29500 vote with each member's vote listed? I would like to cross-check it against what each country is saying about how it voted.

IOANAL. Licensed under the GNU General Public License

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cuba Votes No to OOXML - Says It Did So in September, Too - Updated 2Xs
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 26 2008 @ 05:44 PM EDT
That is really saying no and, at the same time, having a good go at Microsoft. I
expect a complaint heading in that direction.


[ Reply to This | # ]

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