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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 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
"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
For example, to a pacifist, a country with no military or history of any military agression might be considered

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?


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.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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