An ongoing court case in the U.S. has brought a frightening accusation to light.
Software company Intelligent Integration Systems (IISi) has filed a lawsuit against Netezza, accusing them of reverse-engineering the code of IISi’s Geospatial Toolkit in order to provide support for Netezza’s new data warehousing kit – the combination of which they went on to sell to a “US government customer” which supposedly was the CIA.
Not only have they allegedly reverse-engineered the product in order to meet CIA’s tight deadline for the delivery, but they supposedly did it badly. It also seems that the intelligence agency was aware of the substandard quality of the code involved, but agreed to the deal anyway.
And here comes the frightening part: the software combination was destined to be used to direct missile strikes executed by assassination drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to The Register, IISi and Netezza had – previous to this – a solid partnership that allowed IISi to resell Netezza’s data warehousing kit in a packet with its Geospatial Toolkit, and Netezza to distribute Geospatial with its hardware.
But the problem arose when Netezza wanted to strike a deal with the CIA and sell them its next generation appliance called TwinFin, on which Geospatial wasn’t able to run. Netezza wanted IISi to modify Geospatial’s code in order to allow this, but the deadline was too tight and IISi was unable to meet it.
And here we come to the crux of the matter: after IISi’s refusal to rush the job, Netezza allegedly reverse-engineered Geospatial’s code and programmed a hacked version of the software that turned out imprecise locations that differed from the correct ones by up to 13 meters. Also, Netezza stands accused of using IISi’s proprietary code to create its own spatial toolkit – “Netezza Spatial”.
What IISi is trying to do with this lawsuit is to ban both Netezza and the CIA from using the hacked Geospatial Toolkit and/or Nettezza Spatial. Whether they succeed in doing it or not, one thing is certain: this whole situation will reflect very poorly on the U.S. government.