Feeds

UK.gov IT minister makes open source gaffe over browsers

Angela Smith hits wrong note on Opera

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The UK government’s current minister in charge of the IT brief has got her knickers in a twist over web browsers by wrongly stating that Opera is based on open source technology.

Angela E Smith, Labour MP for Basildon and Thurrock, took over some of the Cabinet Office responsibilities of “digital engagement” minister Tom Watson in October last year, after he quit the front bench in June 2009.

Since then Smith has overseen the government’s latest rejig to its open source and open standards software procurement policy, following pressure from OSS vendors last autumn.

However, the minister seems to still be struggling with the fundamental differences between proprietary and open source-developed technology.

Smith, who previously served as a private parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, made the boo boo in answer to a question tabled by Tory MP for Horsham Francis Maude.

The shadow Cabinet Office minster asked Smith “what her policy is in respect of the installation and use of Internet Explorer, (b) Firefox and (c) Opera website browsers by government departments”.

Smith, who is responsible for the information and security brief across Whitehall, made a confident but ultimately inaccurate reply about where UK.gov stands on the aforementioned browsers.

“Government policy regarding installation and use of web browsers is that all decisions must be in line with value for money requirements," she noted.

"In addition, the ‘Open Source, Open Standards, Re-use’ strategy requires departments to consider open source browsers such as Firefox and Opera on a level basis with proprietary browsers such as Internet Explorer.”

The minister has previously attacked what she described as "a small number of global organisations" in the IT world that lack the "philanthropic spirit" so beautifully exemplified by World-Wide-Web inventor-extraordinaire Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

But someone clearly needs to tell Smith, who is a big fan of David Essex and The Osmonds, that the Norwegian browser maker - Opera Software - is in fact a multinational company based in Oslo, pulling in plenty of kroner to boot. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.