Headlines featuring IE’s investigation on Microsoft. Credit: Christian T. Joergensen
All across Europe, from Finland to Portugal, Ireland to Greece, the information technology (IT) of government administrations is based on Microsoft programmes. But because digital systems are constantly growing in both size and importance, countries are becoming ever increasingly dependent on this single corporation. What consequences does this “lock-in” have, as it is called in technical jargon? What risks does it pose? And what can governments do to counter it? Investigate Europe, a team of journalists, explored this question for three months, interviewing economists, computer scientists, IT managers, security experts and politicians from twelve European countries, as well as the EU Commission and EU Parliament. The results are alarming
The reliance of countries on Microsoft
– causes costs to rise continuously and blocks technical progress in government authorities and organizations;
– systematically undermines European procurement and competition laws;
– brings with it overwhelming political influence for the company, culminating in personal interdependence as well as penetration of schools and universities;
– and puts government IT systems, together with their citizens’ personal information, at high risk, both technologically and politically
This investigation has been published in more than 12 countries.