Survey Says: The Threats and Opportunities Related to Open Standards

Posted on September 4th, 2014

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As we mentioned in our last post, OpenStand celebrated its two-year anniversary on August 29. We recently surveyed supporters and the global open development community regarding the present and future state of open standards and open development. All survey responses can be found here.
Our second survey question asked respondents to identify top threats and opportunities to open standards. Primary concerns center on the challenges of setting and maintaining standards between countries and regions, as well as the influence of large corporate interest and governments in the standards development process.  For your consideration, we have highlighted some of the survey responses below:

“What is the single biggest threat or opportunity you see related to open standards today? How do you think this should be addressed?”

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“There are no threats. Open Standards are similar to creative processes through history. Any idea of any value is seen, assimilated and added to as appropriate in new work. All ideas are used and appropriated.”

-Mike, United States

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“Conflict in the standard setting between the countries. Neither the US standard nor other individual country’s standard is the global standard at all. Do not consider as “we are the number one” or “our policy is the best for all people”. This sort of arrogance may create many conflicts. I found the many examples including China vs. Japan/Vietnam/Philippine and Russia vs. the US/Europe.”

-Kenji Uchino, The Pennsylvania State University, United States

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“The biggest threat to open standards is the ability of large vendors to acquire companies that use open standards to introduce competitive products. This allows large companies with diverse product lines to push their complete product lines that use closed standards and hence prevent competition.”

-Kenneth Martin, United States

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“No real threat rather many opportunities, especially for the emerging economies.”

-Domenico, Italy

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“Duplicate, or very similar, standards in the same domain. Each given domain should be decomposable into an agreeable set of components. Having multiple open standards, which define the components and messaging, can lead to interoperability issues just as hav(ing) no standards does. Culling or merging duplicate standards is probably the best way to address this issue so that the impact is minimized on systems based on the standards.”

-Lewis Collier, United States

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“Partially open standards are a significant threat already. Often vendor initiated, those only publicize a subset of a given standard (e.g. the consumer side of an API) while keeping other parts proprietary (e.g. the producer side of an API).”

-Damien, Australia

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“Some governments are only able to reference “formal” standards in their regulations. This means that existing voluntary standards cannot be considered for important regulations such as emergency services.”

-Russ, United States

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“Proprietary intellectual property claims for design ideas incorporated into open standards. ISC and other non-profit open source organizations, can help by developing an initial implementation to prove the concept, WITHOUT adding restrictive IPR.”

-Vicky Risk, Internet Systems Consortium, United States

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“Cost. Standards bodies are charging ridiculous prices. Commercial budgets are constrained- and we can’t even see the Standard content until after purchase. Want real take-u(p) of Standards? Make them cheap or free.”

– Malcolm, Australia

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“Governments, they tend to try to control what they do not understand and seeing as they don’t understand the internet, they use the buzz words without understanding the underlying concepts therefore failing.”

-Wolf, Australia

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“Biggest Threat – Industry would be ruled my very few super rich multinational companies exploiting the whole world and totally blocking the path of innovation, i.e., technological development. Biggest Opportunity – Level Playing field for all to participate, un-leas(h)ing explosive technological development environment”

-Mukul Sinha, India

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“The biggest threat is the lobbying large corporations are trying to achieve in order to control their so-called technological basis. This could be addressed by making them understand that open standards are for their benefit too, as long as they try to invest in having their innovations open to the world, breaking any artificial barriers to interoperability and focusing on collective empowerment.”

-Anastasios Chatzithomaoglou, Forthnet, Greece

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“The biggest threat of open standards is losing diversity. Also, in some case(s), a second level technology can get a popularity due to the popularity of open standards.”

-Jong Kim, Pohang University of Science and Technology

(POSTECH), South Korea

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“I think that open standards for software and data compatibility (are) a big challenge. This could improve the quality and associated costs of software and ease data exchange.”

-Jose Paulo Cunha, UERJ, Brazil

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“Sustainable revenue for standards organizations is the biggest challenge. We should support standards bodies to charge fees for certain services and hold them accountable for making sure they remain inclusive and freely accessible.”

-Steve Midgley, Mixrun, United States

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“Security. On the one hand, hackers learn about vulnerabilities in applications based on standards. On the other hand, having many eyes can mitigate or eliminate those vulnerabilities, although this sometimes requires delays that keep vulnerabilities possible longer than might be the case with proprietary solutions.”

-Robert Boeri, United States

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“Probably the gravest threat to open standards today is to allow proliferation of software patents and the adoption of proprietary extensions like digital restrictions management (DRM) “plug-ins” into universal Web standards such as HTML, harming innovation and global interoperability. A firm NO to software patents and DRM is the only answer.”

-Dimitrios Bouras, Greece

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“The biggest single threat that I see to open standards today is a powerful government putting policies into place that would circumnavigate open standards in the name of ‘security’.”

-John Vail, FSCJ, United States

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“Biggest threat is possibly restricting the free interchange of information and permitting easier censorship. This is a National problem and Nations must be made to see that open standards are eventually in their best interests. This is a political problem which must be solved politically before it can be addressed technically.”

-Frank, United States

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“That professional bodies – including signatories to OpenStandards such as IEEE, and international bodies like IEC keep their standards behind expensive paywalls preventing their adoption or improvement. I also see a significant threat is the use of the term OpenStandards applied to bodies that don’t actually practice open standards.”

-Mitra Ardron, Lumeter Networks, United States

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If you have thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment!

 

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