November 02, 2003

MIT snared in dispute over voting machines

So Diebold (aka Diablo) has already threatening ISPs
and Web masters (i.e. free speech) and now they are
threatening researchers and research institutes (i.e.
freedom of thought)...Well, what would you expect from
corporate executives who have openly expressed their
political support for the _resident, who afterall,
denies the existence of global warming and embraces
the creationists...Yet another outrage against common
sense and simple intelligence...If Diablo was
concerned about the sanctity of the vote and the
security of touch screen voting it would be working
hand in hand with information security researchers,
instead of trying to silence them with law
suits...what ever happen to Tort reform?

Boston Globe: Diebold Inc., of North Canton, Ohio, on Tuesday sent letters to MIT demanding that the school cut off Internet access to data files posted by C. Scott Ananian, a graduate student in computer science, and sophomore mathematics student David Meyer. The files, thousands of pages of Diebold internal documents, were stolen in March when someone broke into the Diebold computer network. They have been widely distributed on the Internet by political activists, who say the documents reveal serious flaws in Diebold's line of computerized voting machines.

http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2003/10/30/mit_snared_in_dispute_over_voting_machines/

MIT snared in dispute over voting machines
Firm: Students posted stolen Diebold files
By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff, 10/30/2003

Two students have embroiled the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in a nationwide controversy
about the reliability of a company's high-tech voting
machines.

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Diebold Inc., of North Canton, Ohio, on Tuesday sent
letters to MIT demanding that the school cut off
Internet access to data files posted by C. Scott
Ananian, a graduate student in computer science, and
sophomore mathematics student David Meyer. The files,
thousands of pages of Diebold internal documents, were
stolen in March when someone broke into the Diebold
computer network. They have been widely distributed on
the Internet by political activists, who say the
documents reveal serious flaws in Diebold's line of
computerized voting machines.

Diebold says the documents are copyrighted and can't
be shared. The company has been warning Internet
providers and colleges to remove the files from their
computers, or possibly face legal action.

A spokesman for MIT said school officials are looking
into the matter "and will issue soon an appropriate
and legal response."

Meyer said he had already heard from the school, which
warned him to take down the Diebold material. "They
said if I didn't remove it, they'd suspend my MIT
[Internet] account," he said.

Ananian said he has heard nothing from MIT, but
decided to take the files down until the school tells
him it's safe to post them again. "I would like to
hear from them that they are not going to sell me down
the river," he said.

Ananian distributed the files throughout the Internet
using a file-swapping program called BitTorrent. This
software breaks the document into many parts, then
distributes the parts over hundreds of computers.
Ananian said that using BitTorrent may provide him
some legal cover, because he's no longer hosting the
full set of Diebold files on his own website.
Meanwhile, students at other colleges have begun
offering copies of the files.

Publishing the documents online has become a crusade
for many Internet activists, who say Diebold is trying
to conceal the truth about its voting machines.

"There's a lot of stuff here that's important to be
known," Ananian said. The documents include internal
e-mail messages that suggest Diebold workers were
aware of serious problems with the voting machines,
even as they were being used in elections.

Meyer said that even if the documents were stolen,
they contain information the public needs. Diebold
"should not be allowed to hide behind copyright law,"
he said.

About 33,000 Diebold machines are in use in the United
States. Some experts have said the machines are
inherently untrustworthy. In July, computer scientists
at Johns Hopkins and Rice universities who analyzed
Diebold's voting software said they found major
security problems.

"Voters can trivially cast multiple ballots with no
built-in traceability, administrative functions can be
performed by regular voters, and the threats posed by
insiders such as poll workers, software developers,
and even janitors, is even greater," their report
said. "There appears to have been little quality
control in the process."

Spokesman Michael Jacobsen declined to talk about the
dispute over Diebold products. But he said nobody is
entitled to distribute Diebold files without
permission. "As a company, we don't tolerate hacking
of our website, or the circulation of stolen material
on the Internet."

Jacobsen also warned that the leaked materials may
have been altered, and that readers can't be certain a
particular document came from Diebold.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.

Copyright 2003 Globe

Posted by richard at November 2, 2003 08:04 AM