Innovation And Trust In Open Source

Peter Lieberwirth | Open Source Delivers | December 11, 2013

It has been a fascinating year in Internet security, privacy, and related technologies. NSA revelations have given us a glimpse through the looking glass, leading to questions about the trustworthiness of the core technologies used to power the Internet.

Cisco recently announced disappointing financial results and pointed at least one finger at a newfound reluctance by some foreign markets to buy American technology that they suspect might be compromised by backdoors and intentional security weaknesses. Other United States technology companies may face the same market issues. Bloomberg (NSA Spying Seen Risking Billions in U.S. Technology Sales) and Time (Why Companies are Thinking Twice About Buying American) have both picked up this theme.

Wherever you stand on the politics of the topic, it brings to the forefront the issue of trust in software, whether you develop it yourself or use software developed by others. In particular, might software trustworthiness influence your decision about when to use open source software instead of proprietary software?  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say trustworthy software is software unencumbered by bugs and/or secret features that enable privacy or security exposures.