The American League of Lobbyists on Monday called for the withdrawal of a new ethics regulation that would prohibit all government employees from accepting gifts from lobbyists.
Wait, let me get my surprised face…
Reuters published the above image as an Editor’s Choice photo yesterday, and almost immediately readers began leaving comments questioning whether the photograph was Photoshopped. The debate soon spread to other websites, including Reddit, and it appears that the photographs has since been taken down (though it can still be seen in its original slideshowfrom last week).
But earlier this month, something quietly snapped as I listened to two Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door. Actually, I only listened to one — there’s always a Talker and what I guess you’d call…a witness. The Talker had started by reading me a weirdly mundane verse from Psalms, then asked for my reaction. What follows is as close to verbatim as I can recall.
This is ridiculous.
Apple announces a media event and people start analyzing the icons in the event announcement to speculate what might be introduced..
For more than a decade, California and other states have kept their newest teen drivers on a tight leash, restricting the hours when they can get behind the wheel and whom they can bring along as passengers. Public officials were confident that their get-tough policies were saving lives.
Now, though, a nationwide analysis of crash data suggests that the restrictions may have backfired: While the number of fatal crashes among 16- and 17-year-old drivers has fallen, deadly accidents among 18-to-19-year-olds have risen by an almost equal amount. In effect, experts say, the programs that dole out driving privileges in stages, however well-intentioned, have merely shifted the ranks of inexperienced drivers from younger to older teens.
My straw-man proposal for a software liability law has three clauses:
Clause 0. Consult criminal code to see if any intentionally caused damage is already covered.
I am trying to impose a civil liability only for unintentionally caused damage, whether a result of sloppy coding, insufficient testing, cost cutting, incomplete documentation, or just plain incompetence. Intentionally inflicted damage is a criminal matter, and most countries already have laws on the books for this.
Clause 1. If you deliver software with complete and buildable source code and a license that allows disabling any functionality or code by the licensee, then your liability is limited to a refund.
This clause addresses how to avoid liability: license your users to inspect and chop off any and all bits of your software they do not trust or do not want to run, and make it practical for them to do so.
The word disabling is chosen very carefully. This clause grants no permission to change or modify how the program works, only to disable the parts of it that the licensee does not want. There is also no requirement that the licensee actually look at the source code, only that it was received.
All other copyrights are still yours to control, and your license can contain any language and restriction you care to include, leaving the situation unchanged with respect to hardware locking, confidentiality, secrets, software piracy, magic numbers, etc. Free and open source software is obviously covered by this clause, and it does not change its legal situation in any way.
Clause 2. In any other case, you are liable for whatever damage your software causes when used normally.
If you do not want to accept the information sharing in Clause 1, you would fall under Clause 2 and have to live with normal product liability, just as manufacturers of cars, blenders, chainsaws, and hot coffee do. How dire the consequences and what constitutes “used normally” are for the legislature and courts to decide.
An example: A salesperson from one of your longtime vendors visits and delivers new product documentation on a USB key. You plug the USB key into your computer and copy the files onto the computer. This is “used normally” and should never cause your computer to become part of a botnet, transmit your credit card number to Elbonia, or send all your design documents to the vendor.
The majority of today’s commercial software would fall under Clause 2. To give software houses a reasonable chance to clean up their acts and/or to fall under Clause 1, a sunrise period would make sense, but it should be no longer than five years, as the laws would be aimed at solving a serious computer security problem.
And that is it, really. Software houses will deliver quality and back it up with product liability guarantees, or their customers will endeavor to protect themselves.
If big software comparies suddenly become liable for all the bugs in their existing software, the resulting liability lawsuits could bankrupt them. This proposal could destroy the software industry as we know it.
And beyond that effect there would probably be some negative consequences as well.
Germany’s top judge has issued a blunt warning that no further fiscal powers may be surrendered to Europe without a new constitution and a popular referendum, vastly complicating plans to boost the EU’s rescue machinery to €2 trillion.
The technology needed to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 already exists, according to a joint statement by eleven of the world’s largest engineering organisations….
What makes individual stockbrokers blow billions in financial markets with criminal trading schemes? According to a new study conducted at a Swiss university, it may be because share traders behave more recklessly and are more manipulative than psychopaths.
Facebook on Monday defended its practice of gathering data from “Like” buttons even after users have logged out, saying that the collection is part of a system to prevent improper logins and that the information is quickly deleted.
“The onus is on us is to take all the data and scrub it,” said Arturo Bejar, a Facebook director of engineering. “What really matters is what we say as a company and back it up.”
Short version: “trust us!”
In an interview on BBC News this morning that left the hosts gob-smacked (google it… it is the BBC after all), Alessio Rastani outlines in a mere three-and-a-half-minutes what we all know and most ignore. While the whole interview is worth watching, the money shot for us was "This economic crisis is like a cancer, if you just wait and wait hoping it is going to go away, just like a cancer it is going to grow and it will be too late!".