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3/7/2004
10:34 PM
John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: Lawsuits, Legislation, And The Exit Strategy

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer last week filed a 12-count felony criminal complaint against Kari Dohn, who served as policy director for former Gov. Gray Davis. The complaint alleges that Dohn altered documents relating to a $95 million enterprise-license agreement with Oracle after a California investigating committee started looking into the contract, which was signed in May 2001. Almost from the start, the software license was the subject of controversy, and several critical newspaper articles helped instigate an investigation, which resulted in the cancellation of the contract and the resignation of several California technology managers last year. Filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, the attorney general's complaint alleges Dohn made six separate modifications to her computerized schedule and internal progress reports relating to contract negotiations and its subsequent approval. The investigation eventually determined senior Davis administration officials approved the Oracle license agreement over the objections of staff experts and without conducting an independent analysis of the need for, and benefits of, the contract, according to a statement from the attorney general's office. The hearings also revealed that six days after the agreement was signed, an Oracle lobbyist hand-delivered to an administration official a $25,000 contribution to Davis' campaign committee.

When Darl McBride entered the stage at the Software 2004 conference in San Francisco last week to speak to the assembled group of developers and vendors, there was a noticeable exodus by many in the audience. According to some folks at the show, this was a planned protest against the SCO Group chairman, who is now suing customers over the use of Linux (see p. 20). McBride didn't seem fazed by the exit strategy, and went on to speak enthusiastically about the company's desire and means to protect its intellectual property.

Three U.S. senators, including the duo that pushed through the Can-Spam Act, have introduced legislation to try and stop spyware, adware, and other invasive software from being secretly installed on computers. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., last week introduced the Spyblock (Software Principles Yielding Better Levels of Consumer Knowledge) Act, which would require a user's consent before any software could be installed over the Web and demand uninstall procedures for all downloadable software. Wyden and Burns were the co-sponsors of the Can-Spam Act, which went into effect in January.

Spyware? Hey, that might explain why my modem light is always blinking, even when I'm not doing anything. I just thought it was Microsoft searching my computer again. But it doesn't explain why you haven't sent an industry tip to jsoat@cmp.com or phoned 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about the trouble with government software contracts, Linux lawsuits, or downloading stuff off the Internet, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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