Lawsuits stack up against Intel over Meltdown and Spectre bugs

Since news of the Meltdown and Spectre processor bugs broke, tech companies have been scrabbling to develop patches and get them out to users. Intel, on the other hand, has been desperately trying to salvage its tarnished image. What's not going to improve the mood at the company is the fact that it has been hit by a series of class action lawsuits.

In the days since the processor vulnerability was revealed, three sperate lawsuits have been filed against the chip-maker. Given the scale of the problem, it's likely that more will spring up, and other chip-makers may also be hit.

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The lawsuits -- filed in California, Oregon and Indiana -- seek compensation for the disruption caused by the bug, the cost of fixing it, and the impact of the performance slowdown that is said to be caused by patches. With the vulnerabilities being described by some as "the largest security flaws ever," it's little wonder that lawsuits sprang up so quickly.

In the Southern District of Indiana, Jason Jones is bringing a class action lawsuit against Intel on behalf of himself and "all persons in the State of Indiana who purchased a defective Intel core processor." The complaint alleges that the processors' performance is negatively impacted by fixes, rendering them unfit for their intended use.

In the District of Oregon, a lawsuit has been filed by Wyatt Mann complaining that Intel for months has been aware of a defect in its chips that could be exploited by hackers. The complaint also makes reference to the alleged drop in performance that comes after installing a patch. It says:

For the past few months, Intel has advertised performance data to the public for its microchips, including on product packaging and in its online and written sales materials. Intel knew, and intentionally failed to disclose to the public that its microchips contained a material defect that left its customers' computers, smartphones and devices susceptible to unauthorized access by hackers. News of the material defect was made public for the first time on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. While patches are available to treat the material defect in Intel’s microchips, experts say that the patches will cause slowdowns, some as drastic as 25 percent to 30 percent depending on the computer, smartphone or device.

In the Northern District of California, Steven P Garcia and Anthony Stachowiak have filed a case on behalf of themselves and others in a similar situation. They complain that processor owners are left with an unattractive choice:

CPU owners are left with the unappealing choice of either purchasing a new processor or computer containing a CPU that does not contain the Defect, or continuing to use a computer with massive security vulnerabilities or one with significant performance degradation.

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