:: LawGeek :: Thoughts on Things by Jason Schultz

Intellectual Property Rants, SUV Wrongs, and Random Movie/Media Reviews
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:: Friday, December 12, 2003 ::

More I, Cringely on E-voting

I, Cringely continues to tear e-voting a new one in his weekly column. I don't necessarily agree that the Canadian system is the way to go, but I gotta love his style. Here are my two favorite graphs:

These same people also claim that receipts are bad because printers are unreliable or need to be refilled with paper, which they fear poll workers would be unable to do.  We don't seem to have a problem printing ATM receipts or lotto cards, but then maybe the folks down at 7-11 are more technically sophisticated.

I asked the question, “Who decided to leave out this auditing capability?” The ability to audit is actually required by the Help America Vote Act of 2001, which is providing the $3.9 billion needed to buy all those touch screen voting machines.  Or at least it appears to be required.  Certainly, most of the Congressmen and Senators who voted for the Act thought it was required.  But then the language was changed slightly in a conference committee, and for some reason, though the auditing requirement remains, most systems aren't auditable.  Huh?  The best explanation for this that I have seen so far says that the new machines are "able" to be audited in the same sense that I am "able" to fly a Boeing 747.  I am a sentient being with basic motor skills just like all 747 pilots, so I am "able" to fly a 747.  So we are "able" to audit these machines.  We just don't know how.


:: Jason 1:36:00 PM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, December 11, 2003 ::

Diebold Wants to Charge Maryland "Out The Yin-Yang" for Paper Receipts

An email leaked from Diebold Election Systems recently has exposed both the greed and arrogance that the company feels toward democratic challenges to its proprietary technology:

The e-mail from "Ken," dated Jan. 3, 2003, discusses a (Baltimore) Sun article about a University of Maryland study of the Diebold system:

"There is an important point that seems to be missed by all these articles: they already bought the system. At this point they are just closing the barn door. Let's just hope that as a company we are smart enough to charge out the yin if they try to change the rules now and legislate voter receipts."

"Ken" later clarifies that he meant "out the yin-yang," adding, "any after-sale changes should be prohibitively expensive."


:: Jason 3:28:00 PM [+] ::
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Nevada Gambling Experts Refuse to Bet on Diebold E-voting Machines; Require Paper Verification

The State of Nevada has rejected Diebold voting machines for their elections after the machines failed to pass certification tests performed by the State Gambling Commission's slot machine technicians:

The decision to go with Sequoia machines was based in part on a review by the state Gaming Control Board’s slot machine experts who issued a report saying the Diebold machine that was analyzed “represented a legitimate threat to the integrity of the election process.”

The State also issued a proclamation that all electronic voting machines must produce voter-verifiable paper receipts in order to be acceptable. Yay!



:: Jason 3:21:00 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, December 09, 2003 ::

I, Cringely, on why it makes no sense to skip voter-verifiable paper receipts for e-voting

As many of you know, we at EFF have been pushing for quite some time to require e-voting machines to have voter-verifiable paper receipts. Robert Cringely has written an excellent column on the issue, pointing out the absurd position that Diebold, the leading e-voting machine maker, has taken on the issue:

"Now here's the really interesting part.  Forgetting for a moment Diebold's voting machines, let's look at the other equipment they make.  Diebold makes a lot of ATM machines.  They make machines that sell tickets for trains and subways.  They make store checkout scanners, including self-service scanners.  They make machines that allow access to buildings for people with magnetic cards.  They make machines that use magnetic cards for payment in closed systems like university dining rooms.  All of these are machines that involve data input that results in a transaction, just like a voting machine.  But unlike a voting machine, every one of these other kinds of Diebold machines -- EVERY ONE -- creates a paper trail and can be audited.  Would Citibank have it any other way?  Would Home Depot?  Would the CIA?  Of course not.  These machines affect the livelihood of their owners.  If they can't be audited they can't be trusted.  If they can't be trusted they won't be used.

Now back to those voting machines.  If EVERY OTHER kind of machine you make includes an auditable paper trail, wouldn't it seem logical to include such a capability in the voting machines, too?  Given that what you are doing is adapting existing technology to a new purpose, wouldn't it be logical to carry over to voting machines this capability that is so important in every other kind of transaction device?


:: Jason 12:26:00 PM [+] ::
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Steve Jobs on Digital Music

Rolling Stone has a great interview with Steve Jobs about digital music. I was especially impressed in the paragraph below, where I think he nails both the attaction of file-sharing and the problem with calling it "stealing" on the head:

"Our position from the beginning has been that eighty percent of the people stealing music online don't really want to be thieves. But that is such a compelling way to get music. It's instant gratification. You don't have to go to the record store; the music's already digitized, so you don't have to rip the CD. It's so compelling that people are willing to become thieves to do it. But to tell them that they should stop being thieves -- without a legal alternative that offers those same benefits -- rings hollow. We said, 'We don't see how you convince people to stop being thieves unless you can offer them a carrot -- not just a stick.' And the carrot is: We're gonna offer you a better experience . . . and it's only gonna cost you a dollar a song."


:: Jason 11:44:00 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, December 08, 2003 ::

Bush Sucks: The Movie

Cute little 30 second movie with a great literal and metaphoric message.

via Lisa Rein's Radar


:: Jason 5:22:00 PM [+] ::
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Further Response to WIPO: IP Theft Is Terrorism

I've posted a further response to the issue of IP theft and terrorism because some people have commented and emailed about the trademark issue.


:: Jason 5:06:00 PM [+] ::
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WayBack Machine Catches Bush's Internet Eraser In The Act

Larry Lessig has an excellent post about how the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine caught the Whitehouse trying to re-write its overzealous statements about the Iraq War being over back in May 2003:

On May 1, 2003, the Whitehouse’s Office of the Press Secretary released this press release, announcing “President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended.” But then, with airbrush magic, now the same press release has been changed to this, which reports “President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended.” No update on the page, no indication of when the change occurred, indeed, no indication that any change occurred at all. Instead, there is robots.txt file disallowing all sorts of activities that might verify the government.


:: Jason 4:52:00 PM [+] ::
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