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1998-02-24 15:23:51


Toxic Data, Says Lawyer



A law firm in Portland, Maine, is getting ready for a "cascade of lawsuits." One major problem: bad imported data that corrupt repaired systems.

This is the problem that very few people discuss when arguing that most organizations will make the deadline. What happens to systems in which some participants don't make it?

This is from the Portland PRESS HERALD (Feb. 22).

* * * * * *

''This is like knowing a meteorite is going to hit the Earth in a certain number of years,'' said John Bannon, a Portland lawyer. ''We're in the position of knowing that in 682 days, a (commercial and legal) calamity is going to occur.'' . . .

''This is a discrete societal emergency,'' Bannon said. ''It's huge.'' . . .

Businesses are so reliant upon each other these days that a failure of one computer system can spawn problems across the economy.

Corporations share more information with business partners than ever before and keep lower inventories than in the past as part of just-in-time production regimes.

''It's an information ecology, if you will,'' Bannon said. ''Everything is interdependent on everything else.''

Computer software with the Millennium Bug might spit out incorrect data that go undetected until it is passed around to other businesses. The bad data, in turn, could lead to financial losses and lawsuits involving numerous companies whose own computer systems were pure.

''Staying with the ecology metaphor, one could call this toxic data,'' Bannon said.


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