Greg's bite: Iran should sue Microsoft, Steve Ballmer for Stuxnet damages?
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Greg's bite: Iran should sue Microsoft, Steve Ballmer for Stuxnet damages?

By Greg Mills

Despite repeated attempts to purge industrial controllers running Iranian plutonium centrifuges and the control systems of their new nuclear reactor (still not on line) the Stuxnet worm continues to wreak havoc.  

One has to take a fresh look at the situation and the legal situation posed. While no one has come forward to admit they wrote the Pulitzer Prize worthy malware called Stuxnet, the facts are plenty clear where a giant portion of the blame lies: Microsoft Corp. and its CEO Steve Ballmer.

Much has been written over the years about the "Apple tax," or additional cost of owning and running Macs as opposed to Windows PCs. The truth is that the pendulum has swung in the other direction in the last few years. If you run Windows of any flavor you had better sign up for an anti-malware service or plan to suffer the consequences. While certainly the Mac is becoming a much larger target for hackers due to increased market penetration, the underlying secure architecture and hard work behind the scenes at Apple has protected us pretty darn well so far.

The horrible vulnerabilities of Windows to all manor of malware and the constant updates and security patches still leaves users of PC quite vulnerable. This chronic weakness in the WIndows operating systems have been allowed to continue all of these years and support an entire industry of anti-malware companies selling incomplete protection to PC users. Why do people and companies put up with it? Sue em, darn it.

When a drug company tests and launches a new drug, if there are unforeseen medical complications and injury or death occurs, lawyers jump in and sue the socks off the company claiming "culpable negligence."The legal theory is that if you hurt someone you are responsible.  If you had a provable advanced knowledge that your product was likely to hurt someone, you face even more damages for knowingly or intentionally selling dangerous goods. Microsoft is well aware they are selling dangerous and shoddy operating systems. They have been doing it for years and shouldn't be getting by with it.  

You see ads on TV every day where hot shot lawyers are suing drug companies over dangerous drugs that cause problems.  The issues are all sorted out after a suit is filed and normally a settlement is reached and the lawyers retire to a tropical paradise and the injured dangerous drug using victims get some money as damages. The drug companies take a hit on their balance sheet, the stock dips for a while and the world goes on spinning as if nothing happened. The fear of being sued makes drug companies more responsible and careful.

A car company has a faulty part that causes accidents and again they get sued. Toyota apparently rejected my original advertising slogan "You just can't stop a Toyota." I submitted that slick and memorable advertising slogan to them and they never got back to me. I had the very same thing happen when I submitted the advertising slogan to AT&T, "No bars in more places." It is really hard to break into advertising no matter how good you are at it.

My thinking is that Iran has very good standing to sue Microsoft for the tort of negligence in not providing better inherent protection in it's Windows OS for malware, such as Stuxnet. One could even sue with the legal theory that the damages are intentional as Microsoft has gotten by with selling shoddy goods, that causes billions of dollars in damages every year. Had Iran invested in Mac to run their centrifuges and nuclear reactor the Stuxnet problems would never have happened.

I am of the opinion British Petroleum also has a culpable negligence case and should also sue Microsoft over the oil spill and loss of life in the gulf earlier this year. The Windows PC that controlled the off shore deep water drilling rig safety system was crashing repeatedly and did the "Blue Screen of Death" several times a day prior to the accident. They constantly had to reboot it due to the inherent instability of the Windows OS.  

It is very likely the Windows operating system failure was to actually blame for the accident happening in the first place. Why not counter sue Microsoft for the oil spill? The legal theory to suing, in a nut shell, is that lawyers sue everyone they can think of when they file sue. It is sort of like a gunny sack full of cats -- you throw them all in, shake the bag and see who gets out and who is left as they attack and damage each other.

I am also convinced a class action suit of enormous size lies for the hundreds of millions of Microsoft victims out there that have suffered countless hours struggling to overcome a cornucopia of malicious code that Windows hosts. People and companies should also be reimbursed for the virus protection they have had to purchase to keep their computers running due to known defects in Windows. Ballmer should also be sued individually as a co-conspirator in intentionally selling Microsoft products to the general public, despite expertly knowing they were both defective and dangerous

That's Greg's bite for today.

(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's art web site at www.gregmills.info ; his email is gregmills@mac.com )

 

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