EPA Charges Against Fiat Chrysler Put Software In The Legal Spotlight

FORBES, 14 JANUARY 2017, FEAT. PROF. BRYANT WALKER SMITH:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s charges against Fiat Chrysler Automobile raise a question: Can code be illegal, or just the actions of the coders?

In accusations that echo the ones that have cost Volkswagen more than $15 billion and led to the arrests of two executives so far, the EPA says Fiat Chrysler buried illegal code in pollution control systems on more than 100,000 Jeep and Dodge Ram diesels to allow excess emissions of nitrogen oxide.

The EPA’s charges against Fiat Chrysler are more muted than the ones against VW. Instead of accusing the company of outright fraud, the EPA says Fiat Chrysler “failed to demonstrate” that it didn’t know, or should have known, that its software violated pollution regulations. Fiat Chrysler denies wrongdoing, saying its emissions systems “meet all applicable regulatory requirements” and it has been working with the government on software fixes.

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