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Pirated Software Could Bring Down Predator Drones

pickens (49171) writes | more than 3 years ago

The Military 0

Pickens writes "Fast Company reports that Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle will soon issue a decision on an intellectual property-related lawsuit that could ground the CIA's Predator drones as Intelligent Integration Systems (IISi) alleges that their Geospatial Toolkit and Extended SQL Toolkit were pirated by Massachusetts-based Netezza for use by a government client and is seeking an injunction that would halt the use of their two toolkits by Netezza for three years. The dispute goes back to when Netezza and IISi were former partners in a contract to develop software that would be used, among other purposes, for unmanned drones. IISi's suit claims that both the software package used by the CIA and the Netezza Spatial product were built using their intellectual property and according to statements made by IISi CEO Paul Davis, a favorable ruling in the injunction would revoke the CIA's license to use Geospatial. If IISi prevails in court this would either force the CIA to ground Predator drones or to break the law in their use of the pirated software. But there's more. Testimony given by an IISi executive to the court indicates that Netezza illegally and hastily reverse-engineered IISi's code to deliver a faulty version that could cause predator drones to miss their targets by as much as 40 feet. According to a deposition by IISi Chief Technical Officer Rich Zimmerman "my reaction was one of stunned amazement that (the CIA) want to kill people with my software that doesn't work." Zimmerman was also nervous about any possible legal liability for IISi in case Predator missiles miss their target; in his words they would not continue participating "without some sort of terms around that indemnifies us in case that code kills people.""

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