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Digital Business Lawyer

Cracking the code: unethical software and where to cast liability

With the recent revelation that a certain European car manufacturer’s vehicles are equipped with software allowing them to appear less polluting than they truly are, the role of software engineers in the creation of code which has unintended results is under the spotlight. This particular matter echoes an earlier emissions debate involving another manufacturer last year, where the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that many cars being sold in America had a defeat device - or software - in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. Concerns about unethical software is now spreading beyond the car industry. Take for instance ticket touts who are using software bots to harvest concert tickets in bulk and resell them at vast markups. Individuals caught in the act are facing unlimited fines in the UK as part of a crackdown on highly profitable resale sites such as Viagogo, StubHub and GetMeIn. John D. McGonagle, Senior Associate at DLA Piper, provides his thoughts on the concerns surrounding unethical software and asks whether there needs to be a total overhaul of the legal system around software engineers and coding.

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