Monday, September 20, 2010

Company: Drone Program Using Hacked Software

Via AOL News (Sept 17, 2010) -

A lawsuit winding its way through the Massachusetts courts could threaten one of the worst-kept secrets around: the CIA's drone program, which targets high-profile terrorists and insurgents in Pakistan.

Intelligent Integration Systems Inc. (IISI), a Boston software company, is asking a judge to immediately stop customers, including the CIA, from using proprietary geospatial software that it says another company illegally reverse engineered. The request for a legal injunction filed earlier this month was posted Thursday evening by the

At issue is a dispute between IISI, which makes geospatial software, and Netezza, a company that bought the software for use on its TwinFin operating platform, which is reportedly used by the CIA, among other customers, according to legal filings.

After a contractual dispute between the two companies, Netezza proceeded to reverse engineer the software and provided a flawed version to the CIA, IISI asserts in its latest filing. "According to Netezza's records, the CIA accepted this 'hack' of Geospatial on October 23, 2009, and put it into operation at that time," the filing says.


The lawsuit enters some unusual legal ground: Despite numerous reports about its high-profile drone strikes in Pakistan aimed at al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, the CIA has refused to confirm that such a program exists. Thus IISI's assertion that the CIA is using the program, even if true, would be hard to prove.

It may not matter, however. IISI does not need to prove the CIA is the customer to have the judge grant the injunction. If the judge grants the injunction, however, it's not clear what impact it might have on the CIA drone program, but it would presumably force the agency, and any other customers, to switch to other software.

IISI, for its part, is taking the position that it shouldn't matter who is using the software -- the law is the law.

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