Poll: Open source implantable medical devices


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(5 votes)
Should people have the right to examine the source code of medical devices implanted in their bodies?
Sure. The FDA needs to join the 21st century.
59.8% (52 votes)
Only the patient has that right, and they should agree to sign non-disclosure agreements.
1.1% (1 vote)
No, it's an academic issue. No typical patient would be able to understand or improve the source code running in their devices.
5.7% (5 votes)
No. Device makers need to protect their investment in R&D. If their products are faulty, the market will punish them.
4.6% (4 votes)
No. It could create opportunities for malicious hacking, and the risks of that kind of openness outweigh the benefits.
2.3% (2 votes)
I like the idea, but doubt the FDA has the expertise to evaluate source code for medical devices.
26.4% (23 votes)

Karen Sandler, Executive Director of the Gnome Foundation, recently gave a talk at OSCON 2011 explaining why free software is critical on implantable medical devices. (Sandler has a defibrillator.) She's wants the FDA to collect and examine the source code used in such devices, and make the code publicly available.

Should people have the right to examine the source code of medical devices implanted in their bodies?

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3 Comments

stites's picture
Open Source Champion

If you need a program change in an implanted device you do not want to be faced with vendor lock in. You should be able to have the doctor of your choice make the change based on his programmer of choice. If you have closed source software in an implanted device then your choice is to stay locked in to the original supplier or entirely replace the device with a competitor's device (if such exists).

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Steve Stites

CustomDesigned's picture
Open Minded

This is similar to the e-voting machine issue. How can the public trust a voting machine run by invisible proprietary code? (Answer: ignorance.) The old relay based voting machines were "programmed" with patch cords - but the cords and relay counters were visible, and could be checked by representatives of all parties.

CustomDesigned's picture
Open Minded

"Sandler has a defibrillator."

As in, "if too many people listen to her, we'll have to ensure she has a heart attack". Scary.