A few years back, in a high profile series of lawsuits
, a lawyer representing some folks accused of drunk driving asked the manufacturer of a breathalyzer testing machine for access to the product's source code, so experts could review it to make sure it functioned properly. The company refused, citing trade secrets. However, a judge noted that this went against the defendants' rights to a fair trial, and said that the breathalyzer evidence had to be thrown out. Slashdot
points us to the news that an appeals court has upheld the ruling
noting that due process outweighs the company's trade secrets. While I have no problem with prosecuting drunk drivers, I do agree that the evidence should be solid -- and not allowing the source code to be examined is a problem.
This is, in many ways, similar to the issue with e-voting machines. Considering the gov't is making important decisions based on these machines, it seems only reasonable that the source code should be at least reviewable to investigate the quality of the machines. Though, it strikes me as odd that we're even more stringent with Breathalyzers than with e-voting machines. Where's the similar ruling about e-voting machines and the availability of their source code?