RealTime IT News

Microsoft Supported by Dead People

Apparently the dead are fed up with the government's antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times Thursday morning, letters purportedly written by at least two dead people have made their way onto the desk of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. The letters asked Shurtleff to go easy on the company.

According to the article, the letters, along with those of 400 Utah citizens, are part of a nationwide "grassroots" campaign orchestrated by pro-Microsoft groups Americans for Technology Leadership (ATL) and Citizens Against Government Waste. The groups receive some funding from Microsoft but won't disclose how much.

The Times reported that the ATL calls citizens and says it is conducting a poll about the Microsoft case. Respondents who say they support the company are then sent individually written letters on personalized stationary, with varying wording, color and typeface, along with hand stamped, pre-addressed envelopes. The envelopes are addressed to their state attorney generals, President Bush and their Congressional representatives.

ATL Executive Director Jim Prendergrast first said respondents who expressed support for Microsoft were only given suggestions about what to write in their own letters. But after he was asked why some phrases were identical, he admitted that his group wrote the letters, according to the Times.

Citizens Against Government Waste, on the other hand, distributed identical letters to citizens. Those varied only by the signature attached. The two letters from beyond the grave came from the Citizens Against Government Waste crop. According to the Times, family members crossed out the names and signed for them. Another letter was sent from "Tuscon, Utah," a city that doesn't even exist.

Regulators evidently became suspicious when they noticed that some of the same phrases appeared in numerous letters, and that some return addresses were invalid.