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The ISO Document: Brazil's Appeal and ISO/IEC's Attachments 1 & 2 - as text
Saturday, July 12 2008 @ 07:43 AM EDT

Thanks to Groklaw's Steve Martin, we have Brazil's appeal against the approval of OOXML as an ISO standard, as text. It begins on page 11 of the ISO document [PDF] Groklaw published Wednesday, the recommendation memo to the TMB to toss the four appeals in the garbage. The memo lists Alan Bryden, Secretary-General and CEO, ISO, and Aharon Amit, General Secretary and CEO, IEC, as the authors.

I thought it would be good to have a text version of Attachments 1 and 2 to Annex A, attached to the cover memo of the ISO document. Here is how they describe Attachment 1:

Attachment 1 contains a summary of the distinct grounds for appeal claimed in the four appeals, together with an explanation from the ISO and IEC CEOs for each one.

Attachment 2 is a continuation. So, they are a list of the various bases for the appeals. We can, therefore, compare their characterizations with the Brazil text, and we can see if we think their analysis makes any sense. We'll do the other three appeals as text too later, but let's start with Brazil's.

Before we begin, there is now a reaction from ISO in response to questioning from The Register, reported in the article, "Has ISO already rejected anti-OOXML appeals?":

“ISO and IEC prefer not to comment on whether internal documents said to originate from the two organisations and posted on Web blogs as ‘leaked information’ are authentic or not,” ISO communications manager Roger Frost emailed us yesterday.

”No decision on the appeals has been made. The current situation is that the ISO secretary-general and the IEC general secretary have submitted the appeals, with their analysis, to the ISO Technical Management Board and the IEC Standardisation Management Board who will decide by mid August whether the appeals should be further processed or not.”

Oh. This was supposed to all happen in the dark? Oops. Actually, as far as any denial of the authenticity of this document, I believe Alex Brown has already authenticated it. So has Andy Updegrove, and as he points out, he didn't get it from me.

There is an issue about whether Brazil is or isn't a P Member. According to this ISO list, it isn't. And yet they are listed as a P member here, so which is it? It matters because the analysis memo sent to the Technical Management Board included, on page 3, the assertion that Brazil, not being a P member, technically had no right to appeal. But as you can see on page 8 of the document, South Africa in its appeal, cites the following Directive, Clause 11.1.2:

This appeal is made in accordance with Clause 11.1.2: "A P member of JTC 1 or an SC may appeal against any action, or inaction, on the part of JTC 1 or an SC when the P member considers that in such action or inaction:
  • questions of principle are involved;
  • the contents of a draft may be detrimental to the reputation of IEC or ISO; or
  • the point giving rise to the objection was not known to JTC 1 or SC during earlier discussions."

Brazil is a P member of SC 34, so according to my reading of the clause, it has the right to appeal if any of the three above issues apply, and arguably they all do. According to South Africa, if the issue is ISO's reputation, or if there is a matter of principle involved, Brazil can appeal. Even point three could apply, in that Brazil raises matters such as incorrect tabulation of votes, which, if true, one would hope ISO wasn't aware of.

But which directives apply to the OOXML process? As you will see, that is one of Brazil's issues. They are a P member of the SC34 committee, which is who called the BRM or ballot resolution meeting, Brazil says, and that's the meeting Brazil is protesting. But it also says it is protesting the JTC 1 decision. Brazil asks which rules were supposed to apply to this OOXML process and particularly at the BRM:

The voting rules of that meeting were not taken in accordance with ISO/IEC/JTC1 directives subclause 9.1.4. Brazil also notes that the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 was voted under ISO/IEC/JTC1 but the BRM was organized by ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34. Even if the directives subclause 9.1.4 was intended to be used, Brazil cannot understand if the P member status considered, should be the ISO/IEC/JTC1 or the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 one.

Doesn't that sum up the BRM, and in fact the entire process? Confusion. Rules that folks expected to be followed were not, and other swapped in. That's how I read Brazil's issue.

Let's see, then, how ISO/IEC answer. I think I'd sum up as: we can do what we did, because we have wide latitude to bend and weave, and the NBs did what they did, so why appeal to us? We defer to the NBs wisdom.

Brazil has other issues. Its appeal says it tried to present some material that it considered an "important proposal regarding the legacy binary mapping" at the BRM, but it was told by Alex Brown to meet outside the BRM to discuss it with other NBs interested in the topic, and it did. It prepared a presentation and made it available to all, and the second day, it was introduced by the US delegate, and then Brown stepped in, Brazil recounts, and was told that there was "no time" to discuss it. Yet others, like Ecma, Brazil says, were allowed to speak for a half hour at a stretch, despite Ecma not being a member. Others besides Brazil protested Brazil not being allowed to present its proposal, but to no avail. They were told there was insufficient time to consider it. So Brazil objects on the basis that there was insufficient time and as a result, it considers the outcome inconclusive.

That's not the most serious charge. I'd say this is:

Analyzing the document "SC 34 N 990 - EDITED NOTES OF THE MEETING", on page 7, we have found the register of BR objection to the multi-part split decision but analyzing the document "SC 34 N 989 - RESOLUTIONS OF THE MEETING" we do not find that objection registered.

During the BRM, the delegations were asked to vote in block for the rejection of a set of responses that was considered by the convenor as "responses without any editing instructions". Those responses are listed on the file "dis29500-nochange.txt", available at the SC34 website during the BRM and, as far as Brazilian delegates remember, this set of responses was "rejected in block" as requested.

When we analyze the documents N989 and N990 we do not see any reference to that decision and also at the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 document with title "Result of Proposed disposition of comments (SC 34 N 980)", that presents a table with the status of each response, some of the "block rejected responses" appears as accepted (e.g. responses 3, 5, 10 and 11 among others).

Why did they bother to go, one might ask? Why vote, if votes disappear from the record? By my reading, Brazil paints a picture of an orchestrated event, tilted away from criticism or a negative result and a refusal to give substantive consideration to issues delegates wanted to discuss, due to time constraints Brazil calls arbitrary, and worse.

I have interspersed explanations of my own throughout the text of Attachments 1 and 2, in blue text to make it clear who is who, explaining what I think they mean in sections calling for an explanation, according to my best understanding. You may notice other things, of course, and you are free to reach your own conclusions.

************************

Attachment 1 to annex A

Claimed grounds for appeal and corresponding evaluations by the ISO & IEC CEOs

The following distinct claimed grounds for appeal may be identified in the four appeals. For each a brief explanation and evaluation is given.

1. Incorrect application of ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directive 13.4 to address claimed "contradictions" identified during the 30-day review period before the DIS ballot, including not informing NBs of the claimed contradictions.

1e. Not correct. The Directives give the JTC 1 Secretariat and ITTF latitude to use judgement as to whether a meeting should be organized to address alleged contradictions. Considering that other issues could potentially be identified during the DIS ballot, the JTC 1 secretariat and ITTF concluded that it was preferable to initiate the ballot and to allow all issues to be addressed by the BRM. The NBs were fully informed of all the claimed contradictions and Ecma's responses to them.

[My understanding: They changed the rules. They are allowed to. They did too tell all the NBs the contradictions.]

2. BRM not conducted in accordance with ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives 9.1.4, but with 9.5 instead, in spite of the fact that it was not a "letter ballot"

2e. Correct but inapplicable. The BRM was neither a meeting of the JTC 1 nor of SC 34 but was open to all 87 national bodies which submitted a vote (including abstentions) on the DIS. Applying 9.1.4 would have disenfranchised the voting NBs present at the BRM which were not P-members. The fact that any votes in the BRM would be open to all national delegations present was communicated over three months prior to the BRM.

[My understanding: they didn't follow the rules, because they wanted O members to be able to vote. As you recall, Microsoft was accused of getting new O members to sign up just for this vote. But the fact that they didn't follow the rules doesn't matter, despite it being one of the bases for appeal, because they told everyone months before the BRM that they were not going to follow the rules. Since the only way to let the O members vote was to change the rules, they decided the noble goal was worth disregarding the rules. Any appeal on that basis is therefore irrelevant. I know. It makes no sense to me either. I'm just trying to accurately translate what I understand the wording to mean.]

3. BRM did not take into account NBs' efforts during the meeting to reach consensus on modifications to the proposed responses from the Project Editor.

3e. Not correct. The resolutions of the BRM document decisions taken where consensus was reached.

[My understanding: It looked like our definition of consensus.]

4. BRM "inconclusive", too short, arbitrarily short, or otherwise incorrectly conducted.

4e. Not correct. Decisions on the comments not discussed during the BRM and proposed dispositions were taken by a process agreed by the BRM itself (29 votes in favour, none against and 2 abstentions.

[My understanding: Brazil says people were confused, and with 87 votes to be cast, 29 in favor is hardly conclusive. They say members were pressured and told things that misled them as to what the vote was for and that the vote in no way reflected the actual views held. They also say that they tried to raise an issue and Alex Brown wouldn't let them, saying there wasn't enough time. But he let Ecma talk for a half hour. They also say that some of their negative votes were somehow magically altered to acceptance.]

5. Final report of the BRM not issued.

5e. Not correct. The final report of the BRM was issued on 2008-03-06.

6. "Final" text of ISO/IEC 29500 or ISO/IEC DIS 29500, or "revised FDIS text", not released

6e. Correct but irrelevant. The decision being appealed is the JTC 1 decision to approve the draft. The text mentioned in the Directives and by the appellants is not germane to that decision, which must be taken on the basis of the original DIS text and the actions taken by the BRM on the comments. The provisions of any revised text is not for purposes of further decision by NBs.

[My understanding: NBs should mind their own business. JTC 1's decision is what is being appealed, and so NBs don't need a "final text". The fact that there are reportedly contradictions is what the NBs approved at the BRM might, however, interest Brazil or India or South Africa or Venezuela, since one of the bases for an appeal is if an approval would tend to undermine respect for ISO. A standard that includes serious contradictions just might have that effect, n'est-ce pas? Anyway, in 2e, they already told us that the BRM was "neither a meeting of JTC 1 nor of SC 34" so why wouldn't the final text be relevant? Or at a minimum, I don't see how you can claim that neither called the meeting and that it was some new breed of meeting, a composite, and then say that the decision was by JTC 1. But logic is my strong suit. ISO? Not so much.]

7. Document "as submitted by Ecma and as modified by the BRM is not ready for fast track processing"

7e. A matter for NBs' judgement, which they expressed through their positive or negative vote on the draft.

[My understanding: NBs see all and know all, and these four were outnumbered in the vote, so ... tough. But if no one has seen the final text prior to the deadline to appeal, how would anyone know? Particularly when some issues were never addressed, according to at least one appellant, and numerous reports indicated that there are contradictions within what the NBs voted to approve? It all went so fast, that was what reportedly happened. If the NBs didn't notice in time, and they voted on mutually contradictory things, how would it be an answer that NBs know best? And further, if there were many who argued that OOXML was too large and basically unfinished for the Fast Track process to be appropriate, why isn't that an appropriate matter for an appeal? No one seems to be using this thing, including Microsoft, so was it "ready for the fast track process"? You tell me.]

8. Document does not follow ISO guidelines for presentation of standards.

8e. Correct but irrelevant. Fast-track submissions need not follow ISO or IEC guidelines for presentation of standards. The corresponding standard must be made to follow the guidelines from its next revision onwards (see JTC 1 Directives, 13).

[My understanding: We do whatever we feel like. What are rules and guidelines to us? This is the Fast Track, bub, and it does as it pleases. In the future, it will adhere, but Microsoft got lucky. The tracks were greased, and it was faaaast! Hahahaha.]

9. NBs were required to analyze far too much information in far too little time.

9e. A matter for NBs' judgement, which they expressed through their positive or negative vote on the draft.

[My understanding: You four NBs may think you didn't analyze it well in the short time given you, and you may claim that there wasn't enough time, but everyone else is happy and you were outvoted. When most of us are happy with an outcome, you don't get to appeal. Maybe you 4 were confused, but the other NBs were omniscient and omnipotent and without flaw. It was, after all, a perfect process. You might call it an example of a perfect, open process. In fact, someone did. So leave us alone and quit whining.]

10. Process followed was incompatible with the principles of consensus, technically-oriented discussions and "redundancy of standards", was dominated by large multinational organization(s), and has harmed the reputations of both ISO and the IEC

10e. Insofar as observation of Statutes, Rules of Procedure, Directives and other rules is concerned, this is not correct. Otherwise it is a matter for NBs' judgement, which they expressed through their positive or negative vote on the draft.
[My understanding: See? We get to say whatever we like, tra la. Logic isn't involved. We know we just told you that the Fast Track has no rules to follow and that we have wide latitude to do whatever we want, and that we didn't follow certain directives, but actually, we did, to the letter. ]

************************************
************************************

Attachment 2 to annex A

11. Fast-track process was handled by ISO/IEC JTC 1 instead of SC 34

11e. Not correct. No actions identified in the Directives as SC actions were carried out by JTC 1 Secretariat according to Directives 13.2, second bullet

[My understanding: By redefining what the BRM was and who called it, namely nobody, neither JTC 1 or SC 34, who cares about the rules for meetings called by one or the other? Anyway, the JTC 1 Secretariat never carried out SC actions.]

12. "Contradictions" (cf. point 1, above) were not adequately handled by ITTF and JTC 1 Secretariat according to Directives 13.2, second bullet

12e. Not correct. See 1e.

[My understanding: We already told you in 1e that we have wide latitude to do what we want to.]

13. Voting should have been conducted electronically rather than at a meeting

13e. Not correct. The Directives require a physical meeting, and say nothing about a voting process distinct from the meeting.

[My understanding: We are helpless in the face of the Directives. Except when we are not. We only have "wide latitude" when we want it. If votes were somehow altered, as Brazil thinks, and therefore there should have been a checkable record, well, no rule says we had to do that.]

14. Discussing "only 67 out of the 1027" proposed resolutions "does not constitute a successful conclusion of the BRM"

14e. Not correct. All the proposed resolutions were decided according to well-defined voting procedures accepted by the NBs; all NBs had the opportunity to raise priority items; all those raised by NBs as priority items were discussed. Whether the conclusion of the BRM was successful is for NBs to decide; by their votes, they have done so

[My understanding: We are carefully saying that all had the opportunity to raise *priority* items. If you, like me, are guessing that Brazil maybe forgot to say "priority" when it tried to raise an item but was told it couldn't, maybe we've guessed the right answer. Most of the NBs didn't appeal, and if they are happy, who are these four to raise problems and try to appeal, just because they claim they tried to raise an item and couldn't? Pish posh. The majority liked the way things worked out. I guess that means you can't appeal unless you can raise an army, so to speak. On this kind of ISO logic, no single appellant can ever appeal anything.

Update: Rob Weir of IBM left this informative comment on this section: "Indeed, the response by the Secretaries General is very deceptive on this point. At the BRM we went in alphabetical order by country name, and each NB was able to raise a single issue on their turn. We made it once fully through the alphabet, and made a partial second pass. So the US was able to raise exactly 1 'priority issue'. But our NB went into the BRM with a list of several priority issues that we were instructed to pursue changes for. Our highest priority item was mapping with the binary formats, and we were not able to raise it at all."]

15. Important topics were postponed and finally not discussed in the BRM

15e. Not correct. See 14e.

[My understanding: Let's define "discussed" to mean they tried to raise an item, were told to discuss it outside, and they did.]

16. Title of standard doesn't reflect contents

16e. Not correct technically; otherwise a matter for NBs' judgement, which they have expressed in their vote.

[My understanding: It's circular. You can't win. There is no appeal of any standard possible, because the NBs in their "judgement" have spoken. They are infallible, so give up. As for the title, including the misleading word "Open", we think it's open enough to pass. Prove otherwise. Anyway, we like the process as it is, dark and secretive and impossible to participate in by the public even as observers.]

17. Proposal of US & BR on legacy mapping and division into parts not considered, in spite of "a chorus of objections"

17e. Not correct. See also 3e and 14e.

[My understanding: Brazil is, I think they are saying, lying or making an error of fact. All decisions were based on consensus, so if they say otherwise, too bad. We run this show, not Brazil. And it all went flawlessly, and the all-knowing NBs decided so already by their votes.]

18. It is wrong to delay SC 34 ad hoc groups' work until standard is published

18e. Irrelevant. (Additionally, if not delayed, SC 34's activity may interfere with the process of dealing with the present appeals.)

[My understanding: I have no idea. But worrying about interfering with the appeals, when they have already told us the appeals conflict with the perfect wisdom of the NBs at the BRM seems illogical. I'm having trouble following.]

19. Except for political pressure, it would be best to publish only after these groups have completed their work

19e. Irrelevant. (It is also not correct. It would be a violation of the Directives.]

[My understanding: The Directives must be followed at all times, except when they don't have to be. If OOXML isn't finished or usable, what is that to us?]

20. Ecma should have had no role in making the judgement referred to in 1 and 1e

20e. Correct. Ecma did in fact have no role in this judgement.

[My understanding: I'm speechless.]

***********************************
***********************************
***********************************

From: ISOTC [email]
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 3:50 PM
To: Lisa Rajchel; [email] Cc: [email]; [email]; Scott Jameson; [email]; Toshiko Kimura; Marcia Cristina Oliveira; 'Eugenio De Simone'; 'Milena Pires - Normalização'
Subject : Formal Appeal

Dear Sirs,

The Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT), as a P member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, would like to present, to ISO/IEC/JTC1 and ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34, this appeal for reconsideration of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 final result.

This appeal is based on two main considerations:

  1. Brazil considers that the BRM was inconclusive.
  2. Brazil considers that the final version of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 text shall be released immediately.

1. About the BRM

At the BRM, the Brazilian delegation was not allowed to present an important proposal regarding the legacy binary mapping. This proposal was a complementary part of USA delegation proposal regarding the new organization of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500. It also shall complement the scope change proposal approved at the BRM.

Brazil has tried to present this proposal, during the debates, on the first day of the meeting and, attending to a request made by the convenor, Brazil has taken offline discussions with USA and other delegations and prepared its proposal to be presented on Friday, during USA proposal presentation.

On Friday, when USA ended their part of presentation and asked for Brazil to present its part of it, the convenor denied this opportunity to Brazilian delegation.

Several delegations has protested against that arbitrary decision, but those appeal was in vain and until the end of the BRM, the Brazilian delegation was not able to present its proposal. The main reason alleged by the convenor was "lack of time".

The proposal here mentioned, is the one available on the file "Br_Multipart_Proposal.ppt" available to all BRM members the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 website at least since the fourth day of the meeting.

Brazil also noticed that most of the decisions taken during the BRM were based on the "lack of time" argument, and we think that this is completely incompatible with the kind of decisions that should have be taken on that meeting.

During the BRM, some decisions were also taken based on the argument that "we need to give answers to journalists", and we think that the media coverage of that meeting was not so important as the meeting results, to be used as a decision making criteria.

Even with the "lack of time" alleged, some members of ECMA delegation, and not members of any NB, was allowed to do half-hour speeches during the two first days of the meeting.

The voting rules of that meeting were not taken in accordance with ISO/IEC/JTC1 directives subclause 9.1.4. Brazil also notes that the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 was voted under ISO/IEC/JTC1 but the BRM was organized by ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34. Even if the directives subclause 9.1.4 was intended to be used, Brazil cannot understand if the P member status considered, should be the ISO/IEC/JTC1 or the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 one.

Brazil also considers that if most part of the issues was to be decided by vote, without any kind of discussion allowed.

About the same subject, Brazil considers that the elected "default voting criteria" was only elected because it was the "less bad" criteria that could be analyzed, and we do not consider that this voting decision represents the intent of the vast majority of BRM delegates. They went there to discuss the technical propositions.

(11)

Analyzing the document "SC 34 N 990 - EDITED NOTES OF THE MEETING", on page 7, we have found the register of BR objection to the multi-part split decision but analyzing the document "SC 34 N 989 - RESOLUTIONS OF THE MEETING" we do not find that objection registered.

During the BRM, the delegations were asked to vote in block for the rejection of a set of responses that was considered by the convenor as "responses without any editing instructions". Those responses are listed on the file "dis29500-nochange.txt", available at the SC34 website during the BRM and, as far as Brazilian delegates remember, this set of responses was "rejected in block" as requested.

When we analyze the documents N989 and N990 we do not see any reference to that decision and also at the ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34 document with title "Result of Proposed disposition of comments (SC 34 N 980)", that presents a table with the status of each response, some of the "block rejected responses" appears as accepted (e.g. responses 3, 5, 10 and 11 among others).

To finalize our considerations about the BRM, analyzing the document N 989, we've found that the BRM can be summarized by:

Total of responses available for discussion: 1027 100 %
Total of responses addressed at the BRM: 189 18,4 %
Total of responses decided by "default" vote: 838 81,6 %

We use the term "responses addressed at the BRM" above because the majority of those responses was decided by block vote without any discussion at the BRM.

For the above-mentioned reasons, Brazil considers that the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 BRM was inconclusive.

2. About the final version of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 text

According to the directive item 13.12, the final version of the ISO/IEC DIS 29500 text shall be distributed on not more than one month after the end of the BRM.

Seen that almost three months has passed after the end of BRM, without any final version of the text distributed or published, and based on directive subclause 13.12, Brazil request the distribution of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 final text.

For all those reasons presented, Brazil kindly request that the final result of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 should be reconsidered by ISO/IEC/JTC1 and ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC34.

Best regards,
Marcia Cristina de Oliveira
ABNT — Manager Standardization Process

(12)


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