Friday, February 25, 2005

Software makers may be held liable for flaws

An article in the Contra Costa Times, from the Wall Street Journal, registers a potentially seismic shift in the software industry. I say, the sooner, the better.
(Access to this site is free; however, first-time visitors must register.)

"Major technology customers, fed up with spending millions of dollars to fix problems caused by software flaws, are starting to press software makers to assume responsibility for the faults and pick up some of the costs. The moves are aimed at making tech companies such as Microsoft Corp. rethink the way they write and sell software. Executives responsible for computer security at companies including General Motors Corp., AT&T Corp. and Alcoa Inc. say software vendors should begin to stand behind their products much as sellers of other products and services do. The efforts are in their early stages, but even a whisper of the 'L-word' -- liability -- sends shudders through the software industry. Until now, most software makers have sold their products on the condition that they won't be held liable if flaws cause damage, be it from computer crashes or virus attacks that exploit the faults. The cost of repairing such flaws, or of reimbursing customers harmed by hacker attacks or viruses, could cost a vendor many millions of dollars."

"Customers are challenging the traditional exemption in the hope that increased liability will force vendors to deliver more secure and reliable software."

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