Contractual Dispute Leads To Claims Of CIA Using Hacked, Faulty Software To Mistarget Bombs

from the well,-isn't-that-nice dept

One important lesson I've heard from lawyers over and over again in cautioning companies who are too eager to sue: when you open up a lawsuit to discovery, be aware that discovery works both ways. Take, for example, the bizarre lawsuit highlighted by The Register, between Intelligent Integration Systems (IISi) and Netezza, the data warehousing company IBM just announced it's trying to buy. Apparently, IISi makes a product called Geospatial that datamines information to determine location. It works on Netezza's NPS platform, and the two companies had a relationship, but Netezza sued IISi for refusing to modify Geospatial to work on its updated appliance, TwinFin.

The details all flowed out during the legal dispute, and it doesn't make Netezza or the CIA look very good. The CIA? Oh, we hadn't mentioned them? It seems they were the key to the whole issue. Netezza apparently did a deal with the CIA to provide some TwinFin appliances with Geospatial, which could be used (allegedly, allegedly) to help predator drones pinpoint where to drop bombs to kill people. Only problem? Geospatial doesn't work on TwinFin, and Netezza didn't want to lose the sale. Apparently after some back and forth between Netezza and IISi, where Netezza revealed the client and the importance of this -- and IISi pointing out that it just wasn't that easy to port the software and keep it accurate -- IISi claims that Netezza went ahead and modified the software on its own -- and the CIA used it, even though everyone admitted that it wasn't particularly accurate at times -- sometimes being off by as much as 13 meters.

Of course, much of that came out as part of the discovery process after Netezza sued IISi for refusing to do the update. As that went on, IISi learned more about how Netezza apparently decided to make its own version of Geospatial, and is now suing back. The original case of Netezza suing IISi? That got dismissed, as IISi had no contractual obligation to port its software... but the lawsuit itself seems to have dragged all sorts of dirty laundry out into public, including the fact that our predator drones might not be very accurate, and the CIA might have knowingly used buggy software.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 4:48am

    Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

    I am using Konqueror as my browser running KDE 3.5 under the latest Scientific Linux 5,5.

    Congratulations!

    Two weeks ago your website started automatically transferring to top post.

    Today with your new inclusive harassment adds it now refuses to even load the website compelling me to use Firefox as a browser which has many negative operational features.

    In short you have managed to break your website.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:23am

    Re: Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

    Is this really the place to be saying this? Or are you trying to curry favor with your Linux butt buddies?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Spuds (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:24am

    Broken Web Site?

    That's really unfortunate... and I hate it when that happens. And I feel for you. I *REALLY* do. I use Linux and I cannot tell you how annoying it is to find that your favorite website no longer works because someone moved a single element somewhere else.

    However... I don't think this is really the place for it. Why not run the website through a validator, find where the bad code is and offer it as a suggestion? Maybe also you should send an e-mail to someone on the contact list?

    I'm trying to help here... I honestly am. I know a lot of people can come off as assholes in comments, but I am really just trying to help you solve the problem. I don't know how compliant Konqueror is-- so perhaps it really is the browser that's the problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    The government never buys buggy software...

    Have you heard they use windows in most agencies? Worse yet many still use windows 95/98/ME(gag)/and 200 which, BTW none are supported anymore?
    The point is, the CIA buying something buggy is nothing new.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Michael, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    Re: Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

    Congratulations!

    Your browser is a niche piece of garbage that nobody uses.

    Now, if you have sent a message through the proper channels rather than posting something to the public comments, I would be less apt to point out that when you use a tool that basically nobody uses (less than 1/100th of a percent), you should expect to run into compatibility issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Re: The government never buys buggy software...

    Yeah, Windows 200 (AKA the Septimius Severus version) was pretty bad.
    http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/rome/a/aa0629999.htm

    Historians are starting to blame Septimius for the fall of Rome, but I have yet to see a historian bold enough to highlight the software problems he faced, or how much of the empire's resources were spent on technical support.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Meanwhile, Back On Topic

    Well isn't that nice of the CIA. So the target drone, instead of flying into the mouth of the cave where Osama is hiding, harmlessly destroys itself on rocks 13 meters away. It seems Allah really is on Osama's side. Your taxes at work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    "dragged all sorts of dirty laundry out"

    It's unclear whether you intend this as a general caution against initiating legal process.

    But in any case, the effect is to move discussion from whether the CIA should be using drones to murder people in a far-off land -- for any reason, or none -- to merely whether a contractor is providing the best tools for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:27am

    Re: Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

    Your browser is crap, you are bad, you should feel bad, etc.
    Breaking a site for a browser that nobody uses doesn't matter.

    Congratulations! You have made yourself look dumb.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Re: Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

    I don't see a broken website. I see a broken user. I, unlike the others here, will not make fun of you being a broken user. Without people like you my job would not exist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Bruce Ediger (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 8:53am

    Danny Casarolo, The Octopus and INSLAW

    For some reason, this vaguely reminds me of all the fooforaw around Danny Casarolo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Casolaro) and Inslaw (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inslaw).

    If any reporter(s) turn up dead by natural causes, then it will remind me even more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

    That's like saying "I use Internet Explorer 5.5 and your site is broken". You'll get no sympathy from other Linux users until you either upgrade to a version that's been maintained in the last few years (eg. Konqueror 4.x) or switch to something based on a KHTML fork with adequate maintainership (WebKit, since Konqueror is bitrotting outside the KHTML engine anyway).

    I suggest grabbing KDE 4.5 and using the WebKit KPart for Konqueror.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Travis, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: The government never buys buggy software...

    You're a bit wrong there. Government regulationsrequire the use of the most recent or second most recent OS from a company (some exceptions can be made on a case by case basis). Also, under no circumstances may a person use any (officially) unsupported OS.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    13 meters precision is nothing if nuclear or biological weapons are involved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    I am using the latest version of lynx and I don't see a problem (can't wait to see what this looks like :p)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

    there isn't an ad blocker for konqueror?

    that probably explains why no one uses it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Brendan (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    Re:

    I was thinking the same thing, but it applies even for smaller explosives.

    Perhaps its 13 KILOmeters? Just a guess that would make the figure more meaningful. I have no data to back this up, at all.

    Mike?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    You still wouldn't want a Predator launched missle landing 13 meters away (you really wouldn't, unless you were behind 13 meters of rock.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Mike G, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Meanwhile, Back On Topic

    Nice try trying to blame everything and the kitchen sink on Obama. This dispute started before he entered office.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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