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Re: independent standards - a matter of life and death?

From: "Francis Norton" <francis@redrice.com>

> I was interested in this article in the New Scientist [1] on
> how tobacco companies appear to have rigged the ISO

> Is this relevant to the software industry?

Without commenting on that article, people shouldn't think that any
standards body is not full of people who are interested in its standards.
And the people who are most interested in some standards are companies.

For example, what if an ISO standard was developed for some ergonomic design
for some device which prevented certain ailments caused by pre-standard
devices.  That sounds nice, but it might be used in evidence in court cases
of victims of the pre-standard devices against the manufacturers.  In that
kind of case, we can imagine that a manufacturer might find it useful to
prevent the ergonomic design becoming a standard, rather than doing
something that exposes themselves to liability.

Similarly, a company might be keen to use a standard to raise the barrier of
entry to new competitors. Or it may realise that some feature in a standard
would exposes some weakness in their design.  Or they might adopt a policy
that they will oppose any feature they do not themselves require, so that
their competitors are not advantaged.

Standards and specifications are agreements between those stakeholders who
can get a voice.  The consumer has to speak at the marketplace.

Rick Jelliffe