Sep 23, 2015

Volkswagen, Free Software and Economic Incentives

The automotive industry has been in the spotlight after a massive scandal at Volkswagen, using code hidden in the engine management software to cheat emissions tests.

Volkswagen programmed its car engine computers to detect the EPA's emission tests, and run dirty the rest of the time.

In real driving, the cars exceeded emissions standards by a factor of up to 35.

It has long been known that such software is spying on the habits of the driver and this data is extracted from the car when it is serviced and uploaded to the car company.

VW being caught is the exception and this is hardly surprising; proprietary software is often malware.

In fact, experts generally agree that there is no means other than software freedom to counter the might of corporations like Volkswagen and their potential to misuse that power, as demonstrated in the emissions testing scandal.

Using free software would not have stopped Volkswagen from programming it this way, but would have made it harder to conceal.

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