[FSFE PR][EN] FSFE engages in the EU browser case

Free Software Foundation Europe press at fsfeurope.org
Fri Feb 27 15:59:53 CET 2009

FSFE engages in the EU browser case

Free Software Foundation Europe today announces that it will support
the European Commission's antitrust investigation against Microsoft
and to this effect it has formally requested to be admitted as an
interested third party.

The investigation began on the 16th of January when the European Commission 
DG Competition reported that it had issued a statement of objections regarding 
Microsoft's abuse of web standards and the tying of Internet Explorer (IE) 
to the Windows Operating System product family. It is based on a complaint 
submitted by Opera, a European company involved in web browser development, 
which FSFE publicly supported in 2007.

FSFE considers anti-competitive behaviour unacceptable, whether it
occurs through 'tying' products, or in circumventing standards and
fair access.  FSFE will seek to support all processes that ensure
competition and enable innovation.

FSFE promotes freedom of choice and protects Open Standards. This
includes working against abuse of standards through proprietary
extensions that unlawfully segment the Internet. FSFE welcomes the
participation of any company in the browser market, including the
optimisation of their products to work well on target platforms.

But no company should be in a position to dictate what the Internet
will look like by leveraging platform dominance into erosion of
standards through control of server and client.

FSFE President Georg Greve comments: "Antitrust law has to step in
when there is consistent and massive abuse of a dominant position that
is damaging competition in other areas. In this case, Microsoft first
used the platform monopoly to create artificial ubiquity for Internet 
Explorer, and then modified the standards on both ends to
distort compatibility and competition."

"The design decisions that give IE better integration than alternative
browsers and to change web standards in undocumented ways were not
technologically justified. The consequences that made the intervention
of the European Commission necessary were intended, not
accidental,"Greve concludes.

"Microsoft's pleas to be in favour of competition and interoperability
must be followed by real acts of goodwill," states Carlo Piana,
counsel for FSFE.  "So far we have seen little of it: recent actions
taken against Free Software are eloquent. We will be restless in
demanding that real competition be restored and that all players are
treated equally."

For FSFE's previous statements, please see: 

For FSFE's letter to the European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes,
please see:


  FSFE previously supported the European Commission's DG Competition
  in its 2001 investigation against Microsoft's non-disclosure of
  interoperability data. This was the first time the Free Software
  community became involved in such a case, and helped lead to a final
  decision in 2004 against Microsoft demanding that interoperability
  information be made public.

  The ruling was upheld by a 2007 ruling at the European Court of
  First Instance, and eventually, Samba and the entire community
  received access to the interoperability information upon conditions
  compatible with the GNU General Public License, which is now being
  implemented into better and more interoperable software that will
  benefit the entire IT ecosystem.

About the Free Software Foundation Europe

  The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
  non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
  involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
  participation in a digital society.  To secure equal participation
  in the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
  Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
  furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
  modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these
  issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving
  people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are
  central issues of the FSFE.

  Further information about FSFE's work is available at http://fsfeurope.org.

Press contact:
      Georg Greve <greve @ fsfeurope.org>
      Shane Coughlan <coughlan @ fsfeurope.org>
      Carlo Piana <carlo @ piana.eu>


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