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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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December 3, 2005

Diebold and the Miracle of the Immaculate Certification

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'Tis the season for miracles, and it looks like Diebold, the company that tried to gag college kids with specious copyright claims for revealing potential flaws in its voting machine technology, is the happy beneficiary. In less than 24 hours, the North Carolina Board of Elections inspected and chose to certify Diebold equipment for use in real elections. That's after the Electronic Frontier Foundation, my beloved former employer, dragged the company, kicking and screaming and grabbing desperately onto door frames, into the courtroom. Where company lawyers insisted, repeatedly, that Diebold could not possibly meet the basic requirements for such an inspection.

Explains
e-voting superhero Matt Zimmerman at Deep Links:


Diebold pleaded with the court for an exemption from the statute's requirement to escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system" and to release a list of all programmers who worked on the code because... well... it simply couldn't do it. It would likely be impossible, said Diebold, to escrow all of the third-party software that its system relied on (including Windows).

What a difference a few days make.

Despite Diebold's asserted inability to meet the requirements of state law, the North Carolina Board of Elections today happily certified Diebold without condition. Never mind all of that third-party software. Never mind the impossibility of obtaining a list of programmers who had contributed to that code.

And never mind the Board of Election's obligation to subject all candidate voting systems to rigorous review before certification...


It's not sexy these days to talk about the battle over transparency and accountability in voting technology. It's the wrong November, and there's no "rootkit" in e-voting. But this kind of outrage continues to happen. If you value hearing about things Diebold and other companies really wish you wouldn't, pass the word along and join EFF today.

Update: Here's another way you can help safeguard future elections, via Danny O'Brien: sign this petition urging Congress to pass H.R. 550.

Update #2: On a lighter note, here's a great collection of parody ads for Diebold voting machines: "Diebold technology: It's a secret. Get over it."

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Tech


COMMENTS

1. Nadine on December 4, 2005 10:12 PM writes...

Secrecy - It's a feature, not a bug.

Permalink to Comment

2. Joyce McCloy on December 4, 2005 10:36 PM writes...

thanks for writing about this.

We in NC were sickened to beat Diebold on court on Nov 28 and then the SBOE certifies them anyway on Dec 1!

These politicians can look right at you and lie.

The fix was in and no matter what, they will do what they want, because this is worth up to $140 Million in NC.

We have a big corruption scandal targeting the democratic speaker of the house of the state legislature.

He controls the slush funds, the campaign finance money, and he tells the other lawmakers how to vote. His golfing buddies wanted Diebold certified, and they made it happen.
Sigh.

Permalink to Comment

3. Patrick on December 8, 2005 7:34 AM writes...

Well said... I think you're right.

Permalink to Comment

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