Wired magazine recently reported (on July 27, 2002), "Afraid that Peru may adopt a bill decreeing use of open-source software in all government systems, Microsoft apparently enlisted American ambassador in Lima to help try to convince Peruvians to kill legislation."
Many people have stated they feel it was wrong (even evil) for a US ambassador to "lobby for Microsoft". Playing devil's advocate for a moment, let me ask following question: if an American citizen was having trouble in a foreign country would it be okay for an ambassador to help him or her out? What if an American company needed help in a foreign country? Is it okay then? Why would Microsoft be excluded? What is purpose of an ambassador? My understanding is these people exist to further goals and objectives of their country: including government, individuals and companies.
What is job of US government? To support it's citizens (a government has no other valid purpose). You could argue that supporting corporations directly or indirectly supports citizens.
Ambassadors do not exist to stop wars or make war talk. They exist to further goals of a government, and a government exists to further goals of majority of it's citizens. If I owned a company I would totally expect any US government organization to cooperate fully with my business, especially if by cooperating goals of my country were also furthered.
This bill seems to say that government wants to use open source for it's systems. This is perfectly fine as a government should use whatever software it feels is best fit for it's goals.
Open source is not a product, it describes an idealized way to develop and maintain a product. Most so called open source is worthless junk that most people would not dare put on their computers. By far great majority of this kind of code is never finished, poorly documented, virtually unmaintained and so full of bugs and security holes that it's laughable.
That being said, same is true, of course, of all other forms of software.
Now there are some great open-source products, and when people speak of open source they usually mean something like Apache, Linux, Unix, OpenOffice and hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of tools and utilities available. These are products that have given open source a good name.
However, I have never heard of open source accounting packages, SCADA systems (systems that control water, power and oil systems), factory control systems, military systems and so on. These things are either developed in house or purchased from a company.
Peru may be making an error because they are thinking "open-source means good programs not created by Microsoft". It will be interesting to see what happens when they attempt to find an open source SCADA system to control a hydro-electric dam or an open source payroll system.