[FSFE PR][EN] EU browser case: FSFE says details of settlement will be crucial

Karsten Gerloff gerloff at fsfeurope.org
Tue Jul 28 10:51:40 CEST 2009

EU browser case: FSFE says details of settlement will be crucial 

Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) congratulates the European
Commission on its firm stance in the antitrust investigation against
Microsoft, which has led the company to offer a settlement. For any
such settlement, getting the details right will be crucial for
competition and innovation in the web browser market.

"To ensure genuine consumer choice, the ballot screen must be made
available to Microsoft Windows users around the world, not just in
Europe", says Karsten Gerloff, President of FSFE. "The company is
upholding its dominance thanks to the network effects created by its
illegal practice of bundling Internet Explorer with Windows operating
systems in all markets where it sells its software. In a globally
interconnected market, remedies must be global."

As an interested third party in the case, FSFE maintains that any
settlement must put competing browsers on an equal footing with
Internet Explorer. They must be accessible just as easily as
Microsoft's own browser, and must provide users with at least the
same degree of integration into the operating system.

The procedure for selecting the browsers to be included in the ballot
screen is a key issue of the proposal. This procedure needs to be
based on a clearly defined algorithm, closely controlled by the
European Commission.

"Simply including browsers according to usage share would freeze the
market in its current state, rather than invigorate it. Instead,
market trends and cross-platform availability of each browser should
be the key parameters for this selection", says Adriaan de Groot,
FSFE's Legal Coordinator.

FSFE will continue to support the European Commission in its
effort to bring fair access, competition and innovation to the web
browser market. FSFE considers anti-competitive behaviour
unacceptable, whether it occurs through 'tying' products, or in
circumventing standards and fair access.

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.

For FSFE's previous statement on this issue please see:

  Web browser interoperability: FSFE welcomes EC's decision and offers support

  FSFE engages in the EU browser case

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.

Press contact: 
  Karsten Gerloff  <gerloff at fsfeurope.org>  +49 176 9690 4298
  Adriaan de Groot <groot at fsfeurope.org>
  Carlo Piana      <carlo at piana.eu>
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