Volkswagen’s Diesel Fraud Makes Critic of Secret Code a Prophet – The New York Times

A good article with pithy quotes from Eben Moglen on the dangers of secret, proprietary software. The VW software was (and is) protected by the DMCA, and it was only because of naïve testing by academic engineers hired to prove the environmental worthiness of diesel engines to Europeans that the cheating was discovered. The underfunded EPA, which can only sample randomly and must rely on the good faith of those whom it regulates, did not find the deception and would not have. And this is but one item in a vast array of things using secret, proprietary software. The question, likely to be raised by defenders of the practice: Would we be safer, as a populace if we could inspect, if not alter, the source code running the world of things? If we knew what was in our food and, more to the point, had the ability to access that information? Defenders would say, No: that revealing the source code would invite sociopaths and industrial spies, even aid terrorists; it would also diminish the value of intellectual property and thus weaken the entrepreneurial drive. I’m sure they could come up with better arguments, for none of those is remotely persuasive and one need not even look to hypotheticals.

via Volkswagen’s Diesel Fraud Makes Critic of Secret Code a Prophet – The New York Times.