Green Room

Too bad to check: HHS stole web scripting for Healthcare.gov?

posted at 3:01 pm on October 17, 2013 by

So says our friend Jeryl Bier at The Weekly Standard, and so does the apparent victim of the copyright infringement:

Healthcare.gov, the federal government’s Obamacare website, has been under heavy criticism from friend and foe alike during its first two weeks of open enrollment.  Repeated errors and delays have prevented many users from even establishing an account, and outside web designers have roundly panned the structure and coding of the site as amateurish and sloppy.  The latest indication of the haphazard way in which Healthcare.gov was developed is the uncredited use of a copyrighted web script for a data function used by the site, a violation of the licensing agreement for the software.

The script in question is called DataTables, a very long and complex piece of website software used for formatting and presenting data.  DataTables was developed by a British company called SpryMedia which licenses the open-source software freely to anyone who complies with the licensing agreement.  A note at the bottom of the DataTables.net website says: “DataTables designed and created by SpryMedia © 2008-2013.”  The company explains the license for using the software on that website [emphasis added]:

DataTables is free, open source software that you can download and use for whatever purpose you wish, on any and as many sites you want. It is free for you to use! DataTables is available under two licenses: GPL v2 license or a BSD (3-point) license, with which you must comply (to do this, basically keep the copyright notices in the software).

They didn’t, though, and now Spry Media says they will take this up with HHS, and possibly their attorneys.  Be sure to read the rest of Jeryl’s post for why the theft is blatant and obvious.  But here’s a question to ponder as you do: does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?

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Perfect. Incompetence AND criminality.

Your government at work.

PattyJ on October 17, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Liars AND Thieves

NOMOBO on October 17, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Hmmmm good question.. I say sue them…

cmsinaz on October 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM

I know that the strongholds of the left, the liberals, who are so concerned about open source, etc…. they are all over it, right?

Vanceone on October 17, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Filthy, greasy, shiftless, lying thieves.

But then, is anyone surprised…

JohnGalt23 on October 17, 2013 at 3:25 PM

But here’s a question to ponder as you do: does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?

If I write code and someone screws it up, THEY own the mess. I can see how it will look to the NI and LI types, though.

How many millions did they spend on this again? 634? I bet it tops one billion.

dogsoldier on October 17, 2013 at 3:33 PM

I work in software, and build large scale websites for a living. There’s no way I’d trust any of my personal data with this system. Dozens of tiny, public problems are strongly indicative of major, undisclosed problems. If you’re not doing your diligence with legal attribution of open source software, you’re probably not conducting standard security and privacy reviews as well.

They need to open source this software now and get some eyes on it, otherwise we’re in a “just trust us, we’re handling your private data responsibly” mode with nothing to back it up. I’ve seen too many companies in that mode get shattered by one anonymous hacker.

askheaves on October 17, 2013 at 3:38 PM

But here’s a question to ponder as you do: does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?

They want to be compensated for the slander now attached to their code and name, through copyright theft.

Should we blame Champion spark plugs for Pintos?

Odie1941 on October 17, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Reminds me of this.

And it works on all levels.

Jeff Weimer on October 17, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Ace mentions that they actually removed not only the copyright, but also the bit of commenting that says you have to keep the copyright. However…
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
They failed to delete ALL THE OTHER COMMENTING IN THE CODE, which enabled the company to say “yep, that’s our stuff.” *facepalm*

GWB on October 17, 2013 at 4:01 PM

It will never happen, because they’re more sympathetic to the administration than they want to admit, but…

… how long would it take for Anon to totally destroy this site and make off with tens of thousands of medical records if they put even the slightest effort into it?

The Schaef on October 17, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Speaking of scripts on websites, Hot-Air has LOTS of problems.

Al-Ozarka on October 17, 2013 at 4:11 PM

But here’s a question to ponder as you do: does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?

I don’t know. Is it used by other entities for website applications for their websites and how well does it work there?

Dusty on October 17, 2013 at 4:14 PM

‘Facing such intense opposition from congressional Republicans, the administration was in a bunker mentality as it built the enrollment system, one former administration official said. Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.’

- Politico, Two weeks in, Obamacare website still broken

Resist We Much on October 17, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Well the Obama administration really is trying to fundamentally transform America…by trashing the legal system:

Civil Law
- Bankruptcy – ignore black letter law on how bankruptcies work
- Intellectual property – ignore copyright restrictions

Criminal Law
- Privacy – you pick ‘em (NSA, FBI, CIA, police, IRS, Obamacare, etc.)
- Border security – ignore the law mandating completion of the fence
- Immigration law – selectively enforce the few provisions of law acceptable to Obama
- Voting Rights – selectively enforce the law, ignore USSC rulings

Constitutional Law
- Politically attack the Justices of the USSC
- Declaration of War/War Powers Act – ignore even the reporting
- Executive orders modifying standing law
- Selective waiving of law provisions for favored constituencies
- Equal treatment – violations are legend

International Law
- Attacking Libya

The list goes on and on and is comprehensive in undercutting law and courts across the board.

in_awe on October 17, 2013 at 4:27 PM

I stopped over to Spry Media’s DataTables webpage and the script works fine over there. I was expecting something that would slow down my browser, ’cause it’s “a very long and complex piece of website software” (do they call scripts “software”?) but it came up really quick and is very responsive. The table is really nifty and flexible. I can see why those building the healthcare.gov software might want to use it.

Dusty on October 17, 2013 at 4:28 PM

So why leave off the copyright notice on a free piece of software? Who knows. But my first guess is because someone took credit for writing it. When you are charging 100′s of millions of dollars for the best piece of coding EVER, there just has to be a lot of it to admire. And what’s the fastest way to create a huge software program? Copy it.

Fred 2 on October 17, 2013 at 4:32 PM

HHS: Hey why the huge cost overruns?

CGI Federal: Uh… it took us a long time to steal develop all those complex tables.

HHS: Oh. OK.

Hill60 on October 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM

[Resist We Much on October 17, 2013 at 4:25 PM]

The most transparent Administration evah!

Dusty on October 17, 2013 at 4:35 PM

SO, basically we paid $634 Million for effed up freeware.

Lovey.

pain train on October 17, 2013 at 4:46 PM

^ Lovely.

pain train on October 17, 2013 at 4:46 PM

healthcare.gov trusts our private data to JavaScript code on the browser?????

This data should be held at the server level, not in the browser!!!!

faraway on October 17, 2013 at 4:47 PM

does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?


More than likely they just want the administration to comply with standard, accepted rules and agreements. They may also want to counter any charges, accusations, or criticism of their routines (software) with public corrections of misused and incorrectly applied scripts.

ExpressoBold on October 17, 2013 at 4:58 PM

SO, basically we paid $634 Million for effed up freeware.

Lovely.

pain train

LOL

PortlandJon on October 17, 2013 at 5:03 PM

But here’s a question to ponder as you do: does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?

That’s not fair. If somebody bought a bunch of Stanley hammers to build a building that ended up collapsing, nobody would blame Stanley.

Fezzik on October 17, 2013 at 5:14 PM

But here’s a question to ponder as you do: does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?

It’s not their fault that the developer probably was calling tables that didn’t exist…

If anything they should demand that their code be removed from the code base for violation of terms of service. Probably set the administration back even more, depending upon how often it’s called.

nextgen_repub on October 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.’

- Politico, T

Why would they care if the companies were subpoenaed unless they were asking them to do something illegal/immoral/unethical?

talkingpoints on October 17, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Oh please Oh please Oh please Oh please

Just keep it coming.

gophergirl on October 17, 2013 at 6:02 PM

talkingpoints on October 17, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Just making software to enable obamacare fits the immoral and unethical aspects. Thus we know which one it is.

astonerii on October 17, 2013 at 6:04 PM

I’m altering the deal copyright law. Pray I don’t alter it further.

- Darth Øbama

Kafir on October 17, 2013 at 6:07 PM

The administration “is deeply committed” to making sure creative ideas and products “reach their full potential without being stolen, co-opted or quite frankly compromised,” Biden said

rogerb on October 17, 2013 at 6:52 PM

2011, B(iden)TW

rogerb on October 17, 2013 at 6:52 PM

This is so emblematic of the “Obama Way”. Or is it the “Chicago Way”. Lie, cheat, steal. Lie.

/The ObamaCare Way

Paul-Cincy on October 17, 2013 at 6:57 PM

HHS stole web scripting for Healthcare.gov

The wierdest thing is, they didn’t even use the most updated version, either. If you look at the link, HHS is using version 1.9.1. But the latest version is 1.9.4. Not sure what the difference is in the two, but one would think that if you are going to use software, the most updated version would be the one that would work best. That is of course…unless you didn’t want it to work properly.

Maybe that is why it was ten years old.

No, they shouldn’t claim partial ownership. But they sure as hell will be getting paid for their software being illegally used. I hope they rake the administration over the coals on this one.

Patriot Vet on October 17, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Why would they care if the companies were subpoenaed unless they were asking them to do something illegal/immoral/unethical?

talkingpoints on October 17, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Probably because the Administration didn’t want it to become apparent how ill-conceived and poorly executed this whole program is. No sense confirming Baucus’ expectation of a train wreck.

Hill60 on October 17, 2013 at 7:34 PM

You know who else is famous for bumbling, incompetent IT development and software theft besides the American government?

Every other authoritarian regime on the planet…

DrDeano on October 17, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Question for lawyer types:

Given that this system will be handling, retrieving, moving, storing and modifying people’s most sensitive and private information, does anyone have standing at this time to sue the federal government, perhaps preemptively, for the system being a POS disaster?

Will our privacy have to be subjected to actual damage before anything can be done to force the system to be proven and tested compliant with the HIPAA Security Rule and other pertinent regulations and laws?

This thing is going to be hacked and I suspect it may go unnoticed for some time. Further, given our new government’s penchant for spying on us, I suspect there is a lot going on inside the system that the administration does not want us to know about.

Is there anyway to use the courts to publicly force the administration to prove Obamacare is compliant with all privacy and security laws and regulations before proceeding?

DrDeano on October 17, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Hmm Lesse here… I bet the tech logs that laud and support open source are all over this!

Click, click, click…

Slashdot – nothing
Wired – nothing
Digg – nothing
Reddit – nothing
TechCrunch – nothing

Huh…

Skywise on October 17, 2013 at 8:50 PM

They need to open source this software now and get some eyes on it, otherwise we’re in a “just trust us, we’re handling your private data responsibly” mode with nothing to back it up.

askheaves on October 17, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Well hell, why not? That’s the way the “most transparent administration evah” rolls in general.

bofh on October 17, 2013 at 9:02 PM

You know who else is famous for bumbling, incompetent IT development and software theft besides the American government?

Every other authoritarian regime on the planet…

DrDeano on October 17, 2013 at 7:52 PM

The Chinese beg to differ…

JohnGalt23 on October 17, 2013 at 9:53 PM

The Obama Administration, maintaining it’s record of ‘historic’ incompetence since 2009!

GarandFan on October 17, 2013 at 10:48 PM

But here’s a question to ponder as you do: does Spry Media really want to claim partial ownership of the worst web rollout in history?

Of course they own it. Of course anyone that understands the situation won’t hold it against them. Of course they ought to sue and win.

AH_C on October 17, 2013 at 11:24 PM

…thieves?

KOOLAID2 on October 18, 2013 at 7:50 AM

So, if you use free open source code software, um, where did all the money go?

Fleuries on October 18, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Then seeing as how this website is built on criminal action, how can I be held to civil/criminal penalties for not participating?

#RiddleMeThat

#BuckFarack

#SuckFibelius (eww?)

Nutstuyu on October 18, 2013 at 11:25 AM

You know who else is famous for bumbling, incompetent IT development and software theft besides the American government?

Every other authoritarian regime on the planet…

DrDeano on October 17, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Can you imagine if Hitler had had this technology at his disposal? He wouldn’t have needed to go hunting for all those Biblical artifacts!

Nutstuyu on October 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM