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David Hammerstein Mintz can take credit for swaying many of those votes. The Green Party politician from Spain opposes software patents, loves free software, and thinks the European Union's pursuit of Microsoft is entirely justified.
Born in Los Angeles, Mintz has lived in Spain since 1978 and became a member of the European Parliament in 2004. He's a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the panel responsible for policy on the Internet, space and technology.
The European Green Party flatly opposes all nuclear power and weapons, supports the Kyoto Protocol and "car-free cities" and is deeply skeptical of genetic modification. Its policy principles (click here for PDF) claim everyone has a right to "a guaranteed social minimum income."
CNET News.com caught up with Mintz at a conference here organized by the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, an umbrella group of European and U.S. organizations including ones such as Consumer Action, the Consumer Project on Technology and the Ralph Nader-founded Public Citizen group.Q: You noticed that I'm typing this on a PowerBook. You're an Apple user?
Mintz: Yes. I'm very upset that the European Parliament is all Microsoft.
What got you personally interested in technology policy?
Mintz: I'm concerned about the future of society and the environment and technology. The way technology is being developed is not at all neutral. (Developments) often conceal ideological and economic world views that are not very compatible with the well-being of people and nature.
That means you're opposed to the existence of large companies?
Mintz: Not only large companies, but a way of looking at technology in a very simple economist way that ignores the end objectives of economy and of technology, which should be to make for longer and happier and more useful lives.
Do you believe that the European Union's ongoing antitrust pursuit of Microsoft is justified, even though the company is under ongoing scrutiny and regulation by the U.S. court system?
Mintz: Totally justified. They're forcing millions of consumers to use their products and become entwined in their spider webs. Really, I think EU institutions should put their money where their mouth is on this issue because a lot of the internal EU information technology systems are 100 percent Microsoft. We as Greens are struggling against this and to make this system open.
As a Green Party politician, what are your views on technology topics?
Mintz: We want to stimulate the sharing of knowledge. We want to create knowledge banks where public funding reverts back to the public good--where there's much greater access to everything from scientific journals to all kind of books to traditional knowledge from rural communities about seeds, for example. Where thousands of new firms can start and become prosperous without being inhibited by overly strict intellectual-property regimes.
That includes software patents, which you don't like.
Mintz: Software patents are one example. There are lots of others. For example, part of this new view is that most small firms and individuals work by giving services, working face-to-face, working on flows of innovation, being part of circuits. Most small firms don't work by managing their IP portfolios.
Does that mean laws curbing so-called patent trolls--companies that have an IP portfolio but no products?
Mintz: I think that patents are legitimate when they refer to real physical inventions that are at the same time novel in a significant way. They are not legitimate when they are interested in creating thickets and protection of already established economic power.
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