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.

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Companies: iisi, netezza

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Comments on “Contractual Dispute Leads To Claims Of CIA Using Hacked, Faulty Software To Mistarget Bombs”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Techdirt is a Broken Web Site

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


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.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Techdirt is a Broken Web Site


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Spuds (profile) says:

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.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: The government never buys buggy software...

Yeah, Windows 200 (AKA the Septimius Severus version) was pretty bad.

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.

out_of_the_blue says:

"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.

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