% fortune -ae paul murphy

Choosing America

Politics has no business in business proposals, right? Exactly what I said when I ran into this sentence fragment:

the abolition of personal freedom in the US under the Patriot act

in part of a business plan discussing the company's decision to put their community access servers somewhere in Europe - but not in the U.K or Scandinavia.

Now, in point of fact I think the idea that data kept in most of Europe is safer from government inspection than is data kept in the U.S. is utterly delusional - in reality things like the FBI request to Google are unusual enough in the U.S. to merit public attention, but are an accepted, and unnoticed, part of everyday reality across continental Europe.

My big problem with this, however, isn't that it's a case of political bias blinding the players to reality, but that confusing politics with business seems counter to the separation of church and state at the foundation of American freedoms.

My other big problem is that I just did pretty much the same thing -although in the opposite direction.

Yesterday's blog, regular readers will recall, hung a question about the reality and extent of a hypothetical Linux community sellout to corporate interests on a decision I had to make between openBSD and Solaris for an identity management implementation accessible via the internet, but did not say what that decision was.

No surprise really: I picked Solaris, but oddly enough not for a positive reason like thinking it better for the job or because it's generally my default choice. No, I picked Solaris for a negative reason; interjecting politics into a business decision in much the same way the person who wrote the bit quoted above did.

One of openBSD's great strengths arises from its intelligent integration of advanced cryptographic technologies - read the openbsd.org crypto pages and you will be impressed.

Unfortunately the United States has long had some archaic and indefensible export restrictions on cryptology software and much of what's in openBSD would be affected if developed in, and distributed from, the United States. It isn't: openBSD is managed from Calgary, Alberta and developed around the world with the cryptology stuff, in particular, mainly coming from third party countries.

I'm a proud Canadian, but it strikes me that some of my countrymen don't know who their friends are and so picked Solaris mainly because it doesn't bend an outdated and inappropriate piece of American legislation.

And does that make me a hypocrite? I think it does -but maybe this kind of thing is a bit like democracy itself: the worst of all choices, except for the other choices.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.