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Geoff Ellingwood

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Some food for coding thought... [Jan. 15th, 2009|06:45 pm]
Geoff Ellingwood

Here is an interesting article to read. At first, you might scratch your head and think, "Gee, Geoff, what does that have to do with programming?" Well, it's pretty simple. The judge is upholding a ruling that says that calling something a "trade secret" does not mean you can keep the source code for a breathalyzer a secret from a defense team that might want to challenge it on the grounds that it was not programmed or designed correctly. While this will mean that some cases of DUI that should probably have resulted in convictions will be dismissed, the end result is much better.

What it means to a programmer is that, if you're involved with a project that has serious implications (in this case, evidence can result in a conviction and jail time), you had better do it right. And that's because your work can be gone over with a fine-toothed comb by a defense team. And for something so serious, it darn well had better be able to stand up to inspection.

Even better, it's not a difficult stretch at all to see how this sort of a ruling might be expanded to other things, such as ATM's - and even voting machines. No matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, I'm sure you want elections to be as fair as possible. I know I do.

This ruling only applies in Florida for now, but I don't see any reason why it won't be extended. So make sure you ship good code, if it's for something important.