BRICKING TRACTORS with Cory Doctorow
Earlier this year, it was reported that tractors and combines worth more than $5m stolen by Russian troops from a John Deere dealership in Ukraine had been remotely disabled - and could not be used.
It was a feel-good story in the midst of so many distressing reports and images coming out of this destructive conflict.
But was the bigger picture more worrying? I speak with Cory Doctorow, author, Guardian journalist with a special interest in protecting human rights in this digital age.
He says that whilst ‘kill-switches’ used to disable the machinery provide a security benefit, it is possible that widely available ‘hacking’ technology could also be used to disrupt the world’s agricultural infrastructure by those with more sinister motives.
All of which feeds into the Right to Repair cases currently going through the US courts. It is also all about who owns the tractor, who owns data, and who owns the rights to the embedded software?
Deere contends that a customer can never fully own connected machinery because it holds exclusive rights to the software coding.
Some US farmers have attempted to unlock the embedded by purchasing illegal firmware –mostly developed by sophisticated hackers based in Ukraine!
Episode is 43 minutes