Note — Nov 25, 2018

Why Sleep Apnea Patients Rely on a CPAP Machine Hacker

Through the issues I’ve shared a number of articles about the evils of DRM, the DMCA, and a couple of rants by Cory Doctorow. This piece is in the same vein but a useful read too because it gives quite a bit of details on just how these locked machines (and/or their data) can be hacked for the greater good. I understand the thinking behind the worry by companies that some users will create problems for themselves because they don’t necessarily understand what they are doing, but the way these companies lock data and, in many cases, treat the patient almost as the enemy, is appalling.

The free, open-source , and definitely not FDA-approved piece of software is the product of thousands of hours of hacking and development by a lone Australian developer named Mark Watkins, who has helped thousands of sleep apnea patients take back control of their treatment from overburdened and underinvested doctors. The software gives patients access to the sleep data that is already being generated by their CPAP machines but generally remains inaccessible, hidden by proprietary data formats that can only be read by authorized users (doctors) on proprietary pieces of software that patients often can’t buy or download.