South Africa to ISO/IEC: A Plague o' Both Your Standards

Posted by Andy_Updegrove on Feb 20, 2007 4:40 PM EDT Standards Blog; By Andy Updegrove
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Usually, representatives of national bodies can go about their business without too much fear of being molested by multinationals pushing their favorite standards. But when the economic stakes are high enough, standards committee members can become the subject of more attention than they wish, and to feel like citizens of Iowa during a presidential year.

How bad can it get? Apparently pretty bad, according to the South African national body, which thinks that the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) avenue to ISO/IEC adoption is being abused. After being apparently subjected to the lobbying efforts of camps pro and con through both the ODF and now the OOXML adoption process, they have become down right testy. 

The following is the verbatim text of National Body Contribution ISO/IEC JTC 1 N 8494, titled South Africa Comments on the PAS Process, and dated February 2, 2002:

  ....It is our opinion that the submission of such "standards" directly to JTC 1 via the PAS route, where the standard has not been discussed within the relevant SC, was never the intention of the PAS System. The fact that some consortium has published a document that they refer to as a standard does not automatically imply that it has any sort of widespread industry acceptance. The fact that the publisher might claim international usage or acceptance is not longer a valid reason in these days of large multinationals, and the SABS [South African Bureau of Standards] has previously been approached by local branches of multinationals to vote in support of such PAS submissions, even if we have no local industry involvement or membership in the appropriate JTC 1 SC.

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