Could Your Bug Put Someone In Jail?

An element of the recent high-profile American trial of Casey Anthony that should be of interest to us:

Assertions by the prosecution that Casey Anthony conducted extensive computer searches on the word “chloroform” were based on inaccurate data, a software designer who testified at the trial said Monday.

The designer, John Bradley, said Ms. Anthony had visited what the prosecution said was a crucial Web site only once, not 84 times, as prosecutors had asserted. He came to that conclusion after redesigning his software, and immediately alerted prosecutors and the police about the mistake, he said.

Concerned that the analysis using CacheBack could be wrong and that a woman’s life might be at stake, Mr. Bradley went back to the drawing board and redesigned a portion of his software to get a more accurate picture.

He found both reports were inaccurate (although NetAnalysis came up with the correct result), in part because it appears both types of software had failed to fully decode the entire file, due to its complexity. His more thorough analysis showed that the Web site sci-spot.com was visited only once — not 84 times.

Remember, those defects your developers mark as “Known Issue” or reject still can have real-world effects.

2 Responses to “Could Your Bug Put Someone In Jail?”

  1. ElizaF Says:

    Quite frankly, that bug scares the life out of me.

    As a tester I bang on (a lot) about how we (as testers) must give any project justification for fixing defects. In other words telling them what the consequences would be of not fixing it.

    However this was something that no-one could have seen this one coming if it was marked as a known issue during development and that frightens me.

  2. The Director Says:

    The scariest bug is one that can kill someone, either through a medical device failure or airline critical system failure or the like.

    But this one is up there.


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