Q&A: Why I started the anti-IE6 petition


The call for the UK Government - and everyone else - to upgrade away from the nine-year-old Internet Explorer 6 browser is getting louder.

After a series of security flaws highlighted the need to move to IE8 or another modern browser, Dan Frydman, managing director for web development firm Inigo Media, posted an e-petition on the Downing Street website.

The e-petition asks the Government to follow the lead of France and Germany and upgrade to a modern browser, in the hopes of improving security, making life easier for developers, and to pressure the rest of the world to do the same.

In the few days since the petition has been online, it's been signed by nearly 5,500 people, with names being added all the time.

We spoke to Frydman to see why he wants the UK Government to recommend its departments upgrade past IE6 - and found out why the bad reputation of the much-maligned Windows Vista operating system is partially to blame for Government department's sticking with Windows 2000.

What made you decide to run this e-petition?

It was really to see if the Government would follow the German and the French governments in making a recommendation to upgrade away from IE6. It evolved while I was writing the petition to say it would be a good thing because then web developers wouldn't have to worry directly about making websites usable for Internet Explorer 6 by default, but they would need Government department clients to say that they wanted it to work for IE6.

If governments generally across the board upgraded to IE8 - or another browser - then developers wouldn't have to keep working on IE6 and the side effect would be that people would be safer.

It sounds like there are a lot of reasons to upgrade away from IE6?

There are a lot of reasons, and the big-ticket reason or headline issue is that IE6 isn't supposed to be secure. But there are patches available for it coming out.

The reason why Government departments don't upgrade immediately from IE6 is [because it] means their IT departments would need to make sure IE8 was suitable for their deployments, or any other browser.

And those browsers don't necessarily work on Windows 2000, which a lot of Government systems run on or Government computers will run on. And that's then an expense to the tax payer, to do something about that [and upgrade].

But if Governments have had the same system running for nine years, to upgrade is something they'll have to do at some point so they might as well do it when so many different suppliers are recommending that they do so.

Microsoft has recommended that users upgrade away from IE6 if they can.

Recently after I lodged the petition but before it was approved by Downing Street's team it came up that the Department of Health recommended that the NHS upgrade away from IE6, which conflicted with mainstream Government advice.

There's just a whole load of issues coming together at the same time.