Feeds

Congress at your Fingertips – how MS lobbies via the Web

A fascinating and intricate machine is marshalling support

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

MS on Trial Microsoft's addition of a write-in campaign facility to Windows Update (Earlier Story) is interesting enough, but if you check out how the campaign is being run, who's running it, and what the objectives are, it gets even more interesting. You don't need Windows 98 or even Internet Explorer to play, because the Microsoft Freedom to Innovate campaign is also accessible from the front door of microsoft.com. Go there and you can do a couple of things. One is subscribe to the Freedom to Innovate newsletter, but even here Microsoft doesn't seem able to stop compiling lists of people to sell things to. Try to subscribe and you get the message: "Microsoft has created a new level of security that requires you to establish a Registration ID. You will be using your Registration ID to obtain many Microsoft products or services." Not just get a newsletter, apparently. Never mind, move on to the next choice, write to Congress. This takes you through to a page tagged "Powered by Capitol Advantage," and it's external to the Microsoft site. We should stress at this point that Capitol Advantage includes a link to its home page here, where it's perfectly open about the kind of organisation it is. Essentially, it has been retained by Microsoft to run a Web-based write in campaign. The company says it is largest publisher of Congressional directories, and in addition it is the developer of CapitolWiz, "a grassroots legislative action tool in use on hundreds of corporation, association, and media organisation Web sites." It has over 250 online clients, has the humorous (considering the name of one of the clients) slogan of "Congress at your Fingertips," (Linux sites get busted for this sort of thing, not retained), and it gives star billing to three clients, AOL (more irony), Yahoo and Microsoft. Via CapitolWiz, Capitol Advantage is essentially engaged in an online implementation of grassroots advocacy. This form of activity involves marshalling support for clients by identifying favourable individuals, giving them a thorough-going (and usually somewhat spun) briefing on the subject in question and then firing them up to make their views known to legislators. Congress at your Fingertips, as they say. Capitol describes CapitolWiz: "This award-winning grassroots legislative action tool allows you to notify your web site's visitors of important legislative events and mobilise them to take action (i.e. contact their congressional representatives by e-mail, phone, fax or letter). Users are even able to check the status of specific legislation and see recorded vote results in the Votes Library." In the case of the Microsoft-Capitol arrangement, Microsoft's site handles the softening-up and spinning process, and is effectively sifting readers - given the nature of the content only committed Freedom to Innovate partisans are likely to click through to Capitol. The company's system provides you with an easy mechanism for identifying your congress representative, and for writing a letter, and sending by email or snail. Disappointingly, although CapitolWiz allows the clients to "customise the site with your pre-written letters, legislative alerts, votes or bills of interest and more," Microsoft seems not to have taken the risk of writing sample letters and then having us take the mickey out of them. This may of course turn out to be a mistake, considering the link is now on Windows Update. People who don't cheer for Microsoft aren't likely to go anywhere near Freedom to Innovate, but as one reader pointed out to us earlier today, people who're at the Update site because they're trying to fix a broken installation are more likely to want to send Congress 'string him up!' letters. All this lobbying activity of course is perfectly legal, and perfectly respectable. Capitol is simply provided tools to its customers, and the tools are neutral, even though the customer will always use them to grind axes. By the way, if you want an exquisitely timed explanation of grassroots advocacy from the Masters, here's what the NRA has to say about it.But strangely, the NRA doesn't seem to have fully graduated to a Web equivalent yet. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.