The only way to ensure the VW scandal never happens again

The automotive industry has been in the spotlight after a massive scandal at Volkswagen, using code hidden in the engine management software to cheat emissions tests.

What else is hidden in your new car's computer?

Every technology we use in our lives is becoming more computerized, even light bulbs and toilet seats.

In a large piece of equipment like a car, there are many opportunities for computerization. In most cases, consumers aren't even given a choice whether or not they want software in their car.

It has long been known that such software is spying on the habits of the driver and this data is extracted from the car when it is serviced and uploaded to the car company. Car companies are building vast databases about the lifestyles, habits and employment activities of their customers.

Computers aren't going away, so what can be done?

Most people realize that computers aren't going to go away any time soon. That doesn't mean that people have to put up with these deceptions and intrusions on our lives.

For years, many leading experts in the software engineering world have been promoting the benefits and principles of free software.

What we mean by free is that users, regulators and other independent experts should have the freedom to see and modify the source code in the equipment that we depend on as part of modern life. In fact, experts generally agree that there is no means other than software freedom to counter the might of corporations like Volkswagen and their potential to misuse that power, as demonstrated in the emissions testing scandal.

If Governments and regulators want to be taken seriously and protect society, isn't it time that they insisted that the car industry replaces all hidden code with free and open source software?