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[] MS recruits top Brussels IT Eurocrat,

'No conflict of interest,' as MS recruits top Brussels IT Eurocrat
By John Lettice
Posted: 26/11/2002 at 12:21 GMT

In a barely-registered coup earlier this month Microsoft recruited senior=20
European Commission official Detlef Eckert. But that's not a problem -=20
Eckert, who it is understood will be joining The Beast on the 1st of=20
December, "has had nothing to do with the Microsoft competition case," the =

FT's 'Observer' gossip column tells us, but simply "had responsibility to=20
roll out broadband communications."=20

Oh really? Although both the Commission and Eckert assured the FT there=20
was no possible conflict of interest, the entry in the Commission's=20
internal Guide des Services for Eckert's unit of DGIS (Directorate=20
General, Information Society) includes, in that case, numerous baffling=20

Two of the staff reporting to him specifically cover "competition cases,"=20
and if you include economic analysis (some considerable overlap here,=20
surely), then out of a total of eleven (excluding support staff), four=20
have posts that would appear to have some considerable relevance to=20
competition policy. And if they're not doing approximately what their job=20
descriptions say, then one wonders what they are doing.=20

The listing for the rest of Eckert's little empire illustrates what an=20
unfeasibly large pile of unimportant stuff can reside under the banner=20
'broadband rollout.' We have:=20

- Policy and technical aspects of information security, cryptography and=20
related subjects=20
- Encryption policy, export controls of information security products and=20
services, notification procedures, interception of telecommunications,=20
third pillar activities, Internet. Informatics coordinator=20
- Electronic commerce, international aspects - Global Business Dialogue=20
(GBDe), alternative dispute settlement, digital management=20
- e-Signature directive=20
- Information and network security, e-signature directive=20

Not forgetting "Employment and the Information Society," and of course=20
eEurope, which does indeed have the goal of bringing "the benefits of the=20
Information Society to all Europeans."=20

None of that little lot is likely to be of the slightest interest to=20
Microsoft, of course, and nor is responsibility for issues such as open=20
source software and patenting of computer-implemented inventions, which=20
our sources assure us he also had.=20

But we're told he's only taking leave of absence from the Commission for a =

period of up to three years, during which time he can always come back. So =

maybe he's a spy.=20

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