Rise of the Rogue Farm Robots, Fruitless Pop-Tarts, and other legal news to ponder from Cape Law Firm
Hacking Automated Tractors may lead to random harvesting and spraying
Gaping security flaws in the software of farm equipment were recently revealed at DefCon 29, an annual hacker convention. Some of the biggest names in farm equipment – John Deere and Case IH – were the target of a “good faith” audit of vulnerabilities and demonstrated wide-ranging flaws allowing machinery to be hacked. According to reviews, a malicious actor could gain control of farm equipment and possibly direct it onto highways, drive it off a cliff, or spray pesticides at super-high rates and random sites.
The exposure of these software security flaws comes just as the “Right-to-Repair” movement has begun making inroads to force manufacturers to release codes and tools allowing owners to make their own repairs. In recent years farmers have become increasingly frustrated by manufacturers’ refusal to grant access to software code and systems required for routine maintenance and repairs. Intellectual property protection for software code and digital apparatus sits at the center of the debate, and manufacturers have a natural argument for being unwilling to give up valuable digital property. Equipment manufacturers have also warned that releasing protected code and data will lead to hacking, equipment damage, and possible injury to operators. However, farmers and other groups point out that going through dealerships for repairs imposes detrimental delays at critical times for field operations, such as planting and harvesting. And they argue that costs for authorized maintenance and repair are exorbitant and impractical. The issues have raised interesting debates over traditional definitions of property ownership and who can “control” electronic equipment and goods.
Consumer stunned by lack of actual strawberries in Strawberry Pop-Tarts
Kellogg is facing a consumer class-action alleging that its frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts contain precious few (if any) strawberries. The suit reflects a steadily growing trend of litigation against food manufacturers over labeling and marketing claims for food. These sorts of legal claims are typically based on Federal and State consumer protection laws that prohibit deceptive marketing practices. Prime targets in recent years have involved such labeling claims as “all-natural,” “pure,” and “organic,” among others.
Cape Law Firm’s Frequently (or Randomly) Asked Questions
What is a quitclaim deed?
Deeds are the legal documents that are used to transfer property from one party to another. A quitclaim deed is a deed that is used to transfer property without any guarantees regarding other claims or liens on property, or even whether the owner actually “owns” the property. By comparison, a warranty deed comes with guarantees that the property is free and clear of competing claims and liens and that the party transferring the property actually owns it.