Monday, October 20, 2003

I had vaguely registered but in the thick of other things not thought to blog the story about Diebold sending out dozens of cease and desist letters to ISPs, until the EFF alerted me to it again over the weekend. They are embarrassed about the internal memos which suggested they knew about the problems with their voing machines but were not concerned about them. So they are claiming copyright on the memos and copyright infringement against the Independent Media Center (IndyMedia) website which has published links to the memos. As far as the EFF know, every ISP apart from the non profit Online Policy Group (OPG) have taken down the 'offending' page.

"The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed by Congress in 1998 provides a "safe harbor" as an incentive for ISPs
to take down user-posted content when they receive cease-and-desist letters such as the ones sent by Diebold. By removing
the content, or forcing the user to do so, for a minimum of 10 days, an ISP can take itself out of the middle of any copyright
claim. As a result, few ISPs have tested whether they would face any liability for such user activity in the first place."

I've said before I'm a great believer in the cock up rather than the conspiracy theory of history and it seems that is what is going on here as well. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that any funny business has been going on in the way of rigging elections. It is just that the Diebold machines are insecure and sometimes faulty. Rather than trying to close the stable door now the horse has bolted, they should be acting to secure their systems. Computer scientists, such as David Dill at Stanford, don't believe that it is too difficult a task - there is no rocket science involved, just plenty of legwork. Trying to hide the problems gives the impression of cover up, which in turn suggests they have some seriously dark skeletons in the cupboard. Conspiracy theorists get hold of that and they've got the makings of an exciting crime thriller. Somebody is probably already writing it.

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