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"Open government" under fire as government suppliers claim trade secrets

Facing painful accusations of drunk driving, Dale Lee Underdahl of Minnesota challenged the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN breathalyzer used against him, and demanded to see the source code used in the device.

The claim launched debates and a lawsuit that escalated all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The device’s manufacturer, CMI, Inc. of Kentucky,claimed the source code was proprietary, copyrighted and refused to comply.  To that end, CMI attempted to block the source code’s release by filing a writ of prohibition, which was denied by the Minnesota Supreme Court, who said the writ is “an extraordinary remedy and is only used in extraordinary cases.”

The State of Minnesota specifically commissioned the Intoxilyzer 5000EN model and “all right, title, and interest in all copyrightable material” created “will be the property of the state,” according to the state’s original bid proposal. Furthermore, the proposal also said CMI must provide the necessary information to “attorneys representing individuals charged with crimes in which a test with the proposed instrument is part of the evidence,” which according to CNet, “seems to include source code.”

On July 26, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Underdahl’s favor, assuring the discoverability of the devices source code and affirming his right to its examination. “The problem is, the manufacturer of the thing thinks they can hold it back and not tell anybody how it works. For all we know, it's a random number generator,” said Underdahl’s attorney, Jeffrey Sheridan.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has expressed reluctance to forcibly acquire the source code, and according to a department spokesman, is still considering its response. The department thinks a lawsuit is unnecessary as the contract stipulates CMI’s cooperation with court orders.

The “source code defense” has been used in a number of other states with mixed success. Manufacturers, in the interest of guarding their trade secrets, have rigorously fought against court-ordered scrutiny. In one instance, judges in Florida’s Seminole County threw out hundreds of cases involving breath tests because the manufacturer would not disclose their breathalyzer's source code. However, in another instance a group of more than 150 suspects, in Florida’s Sarasota County, were granted access to the machines’ source code, with the judges citing it was “material to their theory of defense in [their] cases.”



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RE: Is he kidding?
By lompocus on 8/15/2007 1:18:57 PM , Rating: 0
Actually it was established in the founding of our nation.

Let me rephrase that: It was established for our nation, which later stopped Hitler, Soviet Union, beat up a worldwide British Empire twice with separate generations of troops, has projection power around the world, and is the only reason you speak English and not Czech/Russian or German.


RE: Is he kidding?
By TomZ on 8/15/2007 1:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
The U.S. also has made a lot of mistakes in its history, so let's not get too carried away with that line of reasoning. I'm also a proud, patriotic American, but I also recognize that we're not perfect.


RE: Is he kidding?
By onelittleindian on 8/15/07, Rating: 0
RE: Is he kidding?
By TomZ on 8/15/2007 2:22:35 PM , Rating: 3
"Better" depends on your value system. For example, to a pacifist, a country with no military or history of any military agression might be considered to have the better record. After all, we all know there is only one nation in history that has used nuclear weapons against innocent civilians. Some would say that action was inherently immoral and militarily unnecessary.


RE: Is he kidding?
By rcc on 8/15/2007 2:49:45 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
"Better" depends on your value system


Indeed it does, he stated his.

Can you provide the name of a country with no military history? Ever?

As far as innocent civilians go, that's another call on your value system. And, leads to a whole 'nother discussion.


RE: Is he kidding?
By TomZ on 8/15/2007 3:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I can, but to be fair to the others, I won't try to hijack this thread much more off-topic.


RE: Is he kidding?
By rsmech on 8/15/2007 9:26:44 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
For example, to a pacifist, a country with no military or history of any military agression might be considered
EXTINCT!

Unless a pacifist countries morals weren't so high as to not let a civil & moral nation such as the United States come to defend their freedoms for them.


RE: Is he kidding?
By TomZ on 8/16/2007 2:20:19 PM , Rating: 2
I never said that pure pacifism is practical, did I?


RE: Is he kidding?
By buckao on 8/16/2007 12:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
Dropping bombs on civilians during WWII was standard operating procedure for every country involved. Bomb technology was relatively crude at the time, and bomb-guidance was rudimentary. We didn't have laser-guided smart bombs 60 yrs ago. Add to that the fact that our enemies put military targets right among the civilian population, and you can see it was inevitable that many innocent civilians would be killed. What were we supposed to do, not attack the targets? We were fighting for the survival of the free world. If we hadn't killed all those civilians, we would all likely be slaves to the Nazi's or the Japanese right now.

Oh, and any country that doesn't have a military won't be a country for very long. Someone will come and take them over. It's just how things work in the real world.


RE: Is he kidding?
By TomZ on 8/16/2007 2:28:15 PM , Rating: 2
Except that the target locations for the nuclear bombs used against Japan were not selected on the two cities being military targets at all. In addition, Japan had basically lost in the Pacific already and were being actively attacked by Russia, while Germany had already surrendered months earlier in Europe. Go study your history.


RE: Is he kidding?
By just4U on 8/17/2007 12:38:10 AM , Rating: 2
I don't understand what your saying. According to George W the US and Japan have enjoyed a 150 years of peace. What targeted locations? What's going on here?

(GRIN)


RE: Is he kidding?
By createdAmonster on 8/16/2007 6:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
As far as being slaves to the NAZIs and the Japanese, that is quite a piece of conjecture.
As for the rest, I would agree with you. However the atrocities perpetrated by the different factions have no moral justification; war and morals don't mix. Strategically speaking, they may be sound, but not morally.

People do what they think they have to do, but to give a moral justification for the killing of innocent civilians is preposterous to say the least.
Especially, if people speak of being righteous and and god-fearing.


RE: Is he kidding?
By OrSin on 8/15/2007 3:35:26 PM , Rating: 1
Better record then who? Let run down some of the major flaws.
Genocide of the America Indian
Legalize slavery 70 years after the rest of the world.
Interment camps in WW2
Women could not vote 30-40 years after Europe gave in.
Legal lnyching until 1962.

And these are the big one. We are not better then most we just spin it better.


RE: Is he kidding?
By rsmech on 8/15/2007 10:13:34 PM , Rating: 4
This is off topic, but too absurd to stand.

quote:
Genocide of the America Indian

This so called genocide has been a part of many nations histories. Natural migration throughout history has displace native inhabitants by conquering and or enslaving. Almost every major culture or empire throughout history is guilty of the same. This neither qualifies nor disqualifies us against our equals.

quote:
Legalize slavery 70 years after the rest of the world.


Maybe we had a later history of it, but we certainly didn't have the longest history of it. It's obvious which caused greater suffering. Those who supported it for centuries.

quote:
Interment camps in WW2

At least our ignorance wasn't as brutal as the German, Russian, Japanese, Vietnamese, ect. Who was more civil in their ignorance?

I can't say we are perfect but I think you are the one spinning it. Finish your history studies to get a bigger better picture. There is no perfection in a nations history but you are certainly blind to many other evils in history.


RE: Is he kidding?
By DARGH on 8/15/07, Rating: 0
RE: Is he kidding?
By Darkskypoet on 8/16/2007 8:19:10 PM , Rating: 2
Umm... Sorry.. but your nation played a role in many of those... Hitler broke his face on the Soviets... Also, It was the U.S unwillingness to share the most powerful weapon at the time (arguably of all time) with an Ally (Soviet) that started the Discourse of the cold war... The U.S Also did not bring down the Soviet, the Soviet decided not to be a super power anymore. If anyone brought down the soviet, it was the politburo.

Also... Brits fought and won in 1812, lost to France and the colonies in their war of independence. So once.. sure.. twice? when?

As well, we speak English globally (for now) because the United States was one of the only major nations to not have their economy completely destroyed in WW2. And as such had the economic muscle to revamp the entire global system by rebuilding certain markets so as to not induce a recession in their domestic economy.

Furthermore, English, as much as I like the language, is like 'the borg' it tends to assimilate any word it wants and just simply doesn't stop growing. In the Soviet sphere of influence they managed to push Russian as the language of choice as that was one of the other major (newly) industrialized economies that sprung from WW2.

As china evolves don't be too surprised to see Chinese rise in prevalence on the global stage.

Back on topic; Say all you want that it was established in the founding of your nation, remember that "All men are created equal" was too. So said the slave owners at the time.

Funny thing is, the U.S still does not have equal rights legislation for Women. So... really please try and understand this lack of respect for the coveted written constitution you hold so dear is oft times not quite worth the paper it is written upon.

I too believe your nations founders would be quite pi$$ed off at the current state of events... Even though it has been going on for quite some time.


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