Friday, June 09, 2006

Pulling a fast one?

Industry-sponsored software copyright watchdog, the Federation Against Software Theft’ (FAST), is throwing its weight around in schools.

A couple of weeks ago it threatened to prosecute any school found to have unauthorised software on its system, and warned that its ‘Operation Tracker’ (described as "the CCTV of the Internet") would find them out.

The move was criticised by the president of the Open Source Consortium, Mark Taylor:
"The message is threatening, both overtly and subliminally. Anyone who has worked with LEAs, head teachers and school governors knows that they are honest, hard working, harassed and generally worried individuals," said Taylor. "Associating them with criminal intent is... well, eyebrow-raising, to say the least."

Taylor said that education professionals are focused on dealing with "violence, drugs, bullying, truancy, shrinking budgets and escalating government regulations", not "worrying about whether they've got licences for anything anyone has ever installed on their ageing networks".
FAST now faces accusations of seeking to indoctrinate children by seeking input into the new A-Level in applied ICT. Mark Taylor comments:
“when an organisation has to resort to "indoctrination of children" to promote its cause then it’s usually a sign that something is wrong.

"Schools would be better advised educating their pupils on the value of free speech and discussing the relative economic and practical benefits of open source and proprietary production methods than intimidating them with counter-productive propaganda from big businesses"

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