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Code-Stealing Drone Vendor Settles With Devs

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the now-they-can-make-war-peacably dept.

Software 28

An anonymous reader writes with an update to a story we discussed in September about allegations that copied, inaccurate software was being used in unmanned CIA drones. The lawsuit that publicized these allegations has now ended in a settlement. Quoting: "The breach-of-contract lawsuit, initiated in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts in November 2009, revolved around a series of claims and counterclaims related to a sophisticated, analytical software program, known as Geospatial, that was developed by Boston-based IISI. The software is capable of integrating at high speeds spatial data, such as maps and visual images, with non-visual data, such as names and phone numbers. Netezza, in its pleadings, claimed that IISI, per contract, was required to upgrade the Geospatial software code to make it work on Netezza’s new data-warehouse computer platform, called the TwinFin. IISI argued, and the court ultimately agreed, that it was under no such obligation. IISI officials also indicated that such an upgrade effort would be quite challenging and costly. In the wake of IISI refusing to adapt the Geospatial software to the TwinFin on Netezza’s timeline, IISI asserted in court pleadings that Netezza proceeded to develop a re-engineered, flawed version of the software that was loaded on the TwinFin platform that Netezza allegedly sold to the CIA.

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28 comments

All's Well That Ends Well? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34310966)

All's well that ends well or will a drone happen to go off course and ruin IISi's Thanksgiving?

Re:All's Well That Ends Well? (1)

PDX (412820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34312076)

The borg queen was not happy about her drones going to Cabo San Lucas. The stolen code was assimilated but not properly checked for HUMAN errors.

frist pst (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34310968)

lol@cia

Code-Stealing Drone Vendor(?) (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311022)

Nothing inflammatory about the headline here, is there? (Even though it appears the allegations are true, but still).

Re:Code-Stealing Drone Vendor(?) (0, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311660)

Telling the truth is "inflammatory" now? Maybe those offended should try Preparation H to reduce the inflammation.

Why buy Netezza and not IISi? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311070)

It seems IBM spent its money on the wrong company (assuming the claims of IISi were true). IISi as the original developer might have been a better buy.

Instead, IBM spent lots of money on a bunch of software pirates that cannot even produce good hacks ;-)

Re:Why buy Netezza and not IISi? (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311290)

IBM isn't interested in the technology, they're interested in the customers of that technology. IISI didn't have locked-in customers like the CIA, Netezza did.

Re:Why buy Netezza and not IISi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311844)

How "locked in" is the CIA now that they can invalidate the contract due to fraud? It depends on who plays golf with whom.

I never promis'd you rose garden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34319946)

I miss the old days when they would have settled this by slitting the guy's throat and leaving him to drown in his own blood in a hotel bathroom.

Copied software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311110)

Oh noes!! Copied software?! Everyone knows software should be uniquely programmed for each drone!

I want one! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311152)

So, does ThinkGeek sell code-stealing drones yet? My previous vendor for code-stealing drones got bought out by the NRO.

Vendor of code stealing drones (1)

pem (1013437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311182)

Did anybody else wonder about the technology behind a drone that you can set to work autonomously stealing code for you?

Re:Vendor of code stealing drones (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311512)

Wouldn't it be a lot less conspicuous if it merely copied said code? Theft will get found out pretty quickly due to the fact that it will be missing.

Why (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311184)

Why would anyone spend so much time building a drone just to steal code? It's much easier to just wait for it to be released on wikilwaks.

The moral of the story (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311224)

Don't let your sales people write your contracts. I've seen it happen when I used to work for Oracle -- a sales person would write a contract with custom features that would cost more to develop than the total revenue for the contract. The sales person would meet their numbers and take home a hefty commission and bonus, and the developers would then have to clean up the mess (and lose money in the process). Sounds like exactly what happened here -- somebody made promises they couldn't deliver on. I say fire the bastards and make sure they never work in the industry again.

Re:The moral of the story (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311644)

a sales person would write a contract with custom features that would cost more to develop than the total revenue for the contract.

Do I know you? That's what has happened in most of my recent projects.

Re:The moral of the story (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311718)

Perhaps it's time to turn things around a bit. Count sales as the money sink. Development produces a useful product that customers with money will want. Sales is just the expense you have to pay to get the two parties offering value together. Without a product or service, any sales success will only lead to court. Without a customer, there's nobody to sell to.

Re:The moral of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34314334)

Are you saying the "upgrade or die" message from devs is not correct? Sounds like the "guilty" party had the solution in this case, but the client refused to deploy it.

Can I get the cliff notes? (1)

curado (1677466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311348)

Did this story confuse anyone else?

Re:Can I get the cliff notes? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34311610)

Vendor wrote a program to run on a particular computer. Sold it to a company, which resold it to a customer.
Company decided to switch computers. Told vendor to port to new computer on a rough timeline. Vendor told them no.
Company proceeded to somehow make the code run on the new computer, but missed some quality control so that bugs would cause it to misidentify locations.
Which is a problem, since this software is used to decide where to kill people.
Vendor is rather upset that their code was taken, and that a decent job wasn't done with it, and doesn't want to be blamed for bugs where the wrong people die because a shoddy port was done.

Mis-read the title (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34311460)

Totally read the title as Code-Stealing DROID Vendor Settles With Devs. Thought to myself "fuck, they're even taking Jawas to court these days"?

platform change woes (1)

DotDotSlashDot (1207864) | more than 3 years ago | (#34312318)

Is it not true that development and delivery effort hit the fan when Netezza changed the computational platform on the drones from IBM to Intel processor architecture to save money?

Yay! (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34312348)

There are only few things that make me more happy and less worried than unmanned aerial vehicles capable of blowing shit up: One of them is unmanned aerial vehicles capable of blowing shit up that are coordinated by buggy navigation software.

Nothing can possibly go wrong.

"Settled out of court" (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 3 years ago | (#34312382)

Because it's difficult to come up with a cogent legal counterargument to a person who has your iPhone's Google coordinates and can put a couple of Predator drones through your corner office window.

"Yes, we used your geospatial mapping software to run our killbots. It works really well. Well, with a few meters of error, but we compensated by putting a bigger warhead on it. Would you like a demonstration, or would you like to be purchased by IBM? No pressure."

Classic Corporate Crime Story (4, Insightful)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34312760)

This follows the classic path of corporate criminal behavior.

1. Company makes product, sells it and makes profit. In this case there is a main contractor and a sub-contractor.

2. Corporate greed leads to faulty product. In this case innocent people die.

3. Bad result eventually is discovered. In this case by sub-contractor.

4. A civil court case makes the problem public.

5. Parties settle out of court for undisclosed amount. Given Netezza's purchase for $1.7Bn, IISI walked away with $250 million or more.

6. No legal blame is assigned anyone. No criminal charges are brought.

7. There is no public disclosure that is meaningful in a court of law, only allegations.

8. No one in the company suffers any negative career, financial, or legal repercussions. Most end up being rewarded.

9. None of the harmed parties or their survivors has any recourse or get any compensation.

10. Harm from bad product continues.

This is just normal business practice, and the costs are baked into the economic model before anything starts. Lawyers get rich, along with corporate executives no matter how much damage they do. The negative economic cost is born by the injured parties and investors, not management. There is no incentive to change corporate behavior, and overall insiders do better when greed wins no matter what the result.

As long as this is normal, do you expect anything to change?

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