Software bugs can be trivial, others can ruin lives. Fujitsu has publicly admitted that innocent British Post employees were thrown in jail because of bugs in a company software platform.
In 1999, the British Post Office implemented Horizon accounting software developed by International Computers Limited, a subsidiary of Fujitsu. Until 2015, this system contributed to the prosecution and conviction of more than 900 assistant postmen (contract workers who manage a Post Office branch, often in a small store) accused of theft or fraud, while it was riddled with bugs.
Bugs that made the lives of hundreds of people a nightmare
“ All the bugs and errors had been known, in one way or another, for many, many years », admitted Paul Patterson, co-CEO of the European division of the Japanese group. “ From the start of the system deployment, there were bugs, errors and defects, which were well known to all parties “, he continued before a public commission. 29 bugs were spotted in the first year of Horizon’s launch.
During this period, innocent people languished in prison, others were forced to repay the Post Office to cover money they never stole. Only 93 convictions have been overturned, while thousands of people are still waiting for compensation, reports the BBC. Both parties were aware of these problems well before the manager’s confusing admission: statements from Fujitsu staff that were to be heard during the trials were previously modified by the Post, which sought to maintain the illusion of a system perfectly functional.
“ Shameful and appalling “, apologized Paul Patterson. A few days before this public testimony, he told parliamentarians that “ Fujitsu would like to apologize for our part in this appalling miscarriage of justice. We were involved from the start. We had bugs and errors in the system and we helped the Post Office in its prosecution of subpostmasters. For this we are very sorry “.
The company has a “ moral obligation » to contribute to the compensation of victims, he also declared. At the Davos Economic Forum, Fujitsu CEO Takahito Tokita also offered his apologies. The English Minister in charge of the Post Office affirmed for his part that the number one priority was to obtain answers and compensation: “ Marriages have ended in divorce, people have committed suicide, it’s a terrible impact on people’s lives. “, he said seriously. A law is being prepared to exonerate and compensate the victims.
???? To not miss any news from 01net, follow us on Google News and WhatsApp.