In its final judgment n. 33768 released on Sept. 3, 2007, the Corte di cassazione (Italian Supreme Court) Sezion III penale, seems to have overruled the previous decision by Bolzano’s Lower Court asserting the right of a consumer to hack a Sony Playstation. If confirmed – the decision text is still not available – this might negatively affect the conclusion I’ve drafted in my previous post about the Iphone unlock legal issue.
So, at the end of the day, Skype explained the reason for the outage that broke its P2P network. To make a long story short, the point is that Skype relies upon a closed source approach (that slows the bug finding process) and on Microsoft technologies that, in that specific case, create the problem. This reinforces my early assumption, that crash cause was Skype design instead of a unpredictable problem. It simply unacceptable that an outage of that dimension has been provoked by the inability of an operating system to patches itself without always rebooting. And who did that choice should account for it.
Right, Skype is very clear in repeating that Microsoft has nothing to do with the Big Crash. Nevertheless, it raises some suspect, to me, reading statement such as: “The Microsoft Update patches were merely a catalyst – a trigger – for a series of events that led to the disruption of Skype, not the root cause of it.” or “Microsoft has been very helpful and supportive throughout.” or, again, ? “In short – there was nothing different about this set of Microsoft patches.”, “The Microsoft team was fantastic to work with”. But this PR stuff doesn’t change the basic stuff: Skype is the next component of a “vulnerable society”, where problems, risks and damages are created mainly by the ICT companies – instead of the “dangerous criminals” that fall under than unspecified label of ? “hackers”.
Recent Skype outage, apparently fault of a denial-of-service attack on the Skype centralized login infrastructure, raises again the intrinsic flaw of designing a service or an application (even partially) based on a centralized network topology.
As the recent facts show, offering a service with a Single Point of Failure creates a “domino effect” whose legal implications (in terms of damages suffered by paying clients) might bear unforeseen consequence. The “flawed-by-design” kind of liability might, indeed, lead to a class action against Skype for having knowingly chosen to build their service on a technical structural weakeness.
Of course, I imagine that should that issue be taken into Court, ICT expert witnesses will play the major role in addressing the underlying technical issues.