Monday, October 04, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Making Votes Count: More Troubles for Diebold

The New York Times > Opinion > Making Votes Count: More Troubles for Diebold:
"Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is illegal to send a cease-and-desist letter while knowing that the claim of copyright infringement is false. The court held that Diebold knew that its e-mail messages 'discussing possible technical problems' with its voting machines were not copyrighted, but went ahead anyway."

The story began early last year when someone - it is unclear who - posted internal Diebold e-mail messages on the Internet that discussed flaws in the company's electronic voting machines. Two students from Swarthmore College then posted those messages on various Web sites. Diebold sent out a flurry of cease-and-desist letters claiming that the postings violated its copyrights. The students sued, charging that Diebold knowingly misrepresented its rights under copyright law.

The case raises more questions about Diebold's honesty and its commitment to transparency.

Last month, California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer, joined a false-claims suit against Diebold charging it with lying to the state about the security of its voting systems. Now, a federal court has ruled that Diebold made knowing misrepresentations to get damaging information about its machines' security off the Internet.

The Tyranny of Copyright?:
"Last fall, a group of civic-minded students at Swarthmore College received a sobering lesson in the future of political protest. They had come into possession of some 15,000 e-mail messages and memos -- presumably leaked or stolen -- from Diebold Election Systems, the largest maker of electronic voting machines in the country. The memos featured Diebold employees' candid discussion of flaws in the company's software and warnings that the computer network was poorly protected from hackers. In light of the chaotic 2000 presidential election, the Swarthmore students decided that this information shouldn't be kept from the public. Like aspiring Daniel Ellsbergs with their would-be Pentagon Papers, they posted the files on the Internet, declaring the act a form of electronic whistle-blowing. "

Not long after the students posted the memos, Diebold sent letters to Swarthmore charging the students with copyright infringement and demanding that the material be removed from the students' Web page, which was hosted on the college's server. Swarthmore complied. The question of whether the students were within their rights to post the memos was essentially moot: thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, their speech could be silenced without the benefit of actual lawsuits, public hearings, judges or other niceties of due process.
con·cept: The New York Times > Opinion > Making Votes Count: More Troubles for Diebold