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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 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.

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.

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.

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.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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