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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 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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