Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Microsoft attempt to weaken evoting law in NY State

According to Bo Lipari, Executive Director New Yorkers for Verified Voting, Microsoft have been secretly working with e-voting vendors, lobbyists and friendly New York politicians to slip some provisions into New York State's election laws which would undermine the current requirement relating to the disclosure of source code.

"The 800 pound gorilla of software development has moved forcefully into New York State, supported by voting machine vendors using Microsoft Windows in their touch screen voting machines and other systems. Over the last two months Microsoft and a cadre of high paid lobbyists have been working a full-court press in Albany in an attempt to bring about a serious weakening of New York State election law. This back door effort by private corporations to weaken public protections is about to bear fruit.

On Thursday, June 14, I recieved a copy of proposed changes to New York State Election Law drafted by Microsoft attorneys that has been circulating among the Legislature. These changes would gut the source code escrow and review provisions provided in our current law, which were fought for and won by election integrity activists around the state and adopted by the Legislature in June 2005. In an earlier blog I wrote about Microsoft's unwillingness to comply with New York State's escrow and review requirements. Now the software giant has gone a step further, not just saying “we won't comply with your law” but actively trying to change state law to serve their corporate interests. Microsoft's attorneys drafted an amendment which would add a paragraph to Section 1-104 of NYS Election Law defining “election-dedicated voting system technology”. Microsoft’s proposed change to state law would effectively render our current requirements for escrow and the ability for independent review of source code in the event of disputes completely meaningless - and with it the protections the public fought so hard for."

Microsoft don't really have a lot to gain by getting entangled with evoting vendors, so this is presumably an effort to close off any back door access to their own source code.

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