Friday, 29 July 2005

It cuts both ways

When it's coffee time on the ARmadgeddon campus we often talk of the power that industry watchers have over the vendors. It's fair to say that Gartner has the power to break of break us, both as businesses and as climbers of our corporate ladder. This weekend, let's give a thought to Michael Lynn, who career has been so toasted by Cisco that we suspect the only work he can get now is either for Kim Jong-il (who now prefers the company of technocrats) or being an assistant at Stanford.

For those of you who don't know the story, here it is. ISS researcher Michael Lynn found a major flaw in Cisco's routers. "Not to sensationalize, but it would be the digital Pearl Harbor we've heard about," Lynn said. Lynn agreed to address the Black Hat conference to draw attention to the dangers, and to push Cisco to act. "I felt it was the right thing to do for the country and for the national critical infrastructure" added Lynn. According to AP:
"Cisco, the leading maker of Internet equipment, was originally supposed to join Lynn on stage. But the company and ISS changed course earlier this week and tried to cancel the session, going so far as to hire workers to yank pages from conference handouts and seek a court order."

Lynn had to choose between keeping his job or making his presentation. Bravely, he chose the latter option. AP reports Lynn saying that his demonstration was stripped of any information that would lead anyone to figure out how the technique works. Nevertheless, Cisco's full legal apparatus was thrown at Lynn. ZDnet reports:
After the talk, Lynn retained attorney Jennifer Granick in the face of legal action by his former employer ISS and Cisco. Granick is the executive director of the Stanford Law School Centre for Internet and Society.
"Without her help I would be in some really serious trouble," Lynn said Thursday.

Stanford's Centre for Internet and Society(CIS) is playing an essential role in ensure the Internet serves the public good. To track their work, go to to subscribe to the CIS cyberlaw newsletter, Packets.


Stiennon said...

So Granick gets Lynn of the hook pro bono. Great. But to do so Lynn, who until then was a hero had to back down and comply with some heavy handed requirements.

This is legal action at its best? Compromise your principals so you don't get trampled by Cisco and ISS?

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