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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 34 - Action Alert: Support California's Verified Voting Requirement


EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 34 - Action Alert: Support California's Verified Voting Requirement

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 34       December 4, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 273rd Issue of EFFector:

Action Alert: Support California's Verified Voting Requirement

Advocates for accountable elections won an important victory last week when California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced that he will require voter verified paper audit trails for electronic voting machines by 2006. He has also taken several steps to improve election security in California immediately and, beginning in 2005, will prohibit counties from purchasing computerized voting systems that do not provide a voter verified paper trail. His action makes California the first state in the country to do so. It's important that Secretary Shelley hear from as many people as possible right now - both inside and outside California - who applaud his decision. Please take a moment to send him an email and share your thoughts.


Diebold Backs Down, Won't Sue on Publication of E-Voting Machine Flaws

Court Schedules Mediation and Hearing in Electronic Voting Case

San Jose - Voting machine company Diebold Systems, Inc., agreed this week in federal court not to sue or send any further legal threats to anyone who publishes a Diebold email archive that indicates flaws in the company's voting machines as well as difficulties in certifying the systems for actual elections. Diebold also agreed to send retractions of its earlier legal threats to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that received them.

"We're pleased that Diebold has retreated and the public is now free to continue its interrupted conversation over the accuracy of electronic voting machines," said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. "We continue to seek a court order to protect posters, linkers, and the ISPs that host them."

U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel ordered the case into mediation and set out a schedule to finalize remaining issues, with motions due on January 12th and 30th and a hearing scheduled for February 9, 2004. EFF and the Center for Internet and Society Cyberlaw Clinic at Stanford Law School are providing legal representation in this important case to prevent abusive copyright claims from silencing public debate about voting, the very foundation of our democratic process.


Media coverage:


  • Privacy Groups Campaign to Control RFID Tracking Technology

    A tracking technology called radio frequency identification (RFID) is poised to become an invisible and ubiquitous part of our daily lives - unless we act to ensure that its use is controlled. The focus of increasing concern among privacy advocates, RFID tags are tiny electronic computer chips used to pinpoint the physical location of whatever item the tags are embedded in. While this may seem like a convenient way to track items, it's also a convenient way to do something less benign: track people and their activities through their belongings.

    The U.S. Department of Defense and retail giant Wal-Mart have each recently announced that they will require their suppliers to use RFID technology. In response, EFF has joined several other privacy groups in issuing a position statement warning the public of the threat that RFID use poses to our privacy.

    In the coalition position statement, EFF calls for a voluntary moratorium among manufacturers and retailers for item-level RFID tagging pending further assessment of its use. In addition, we recommend that the development of RFID technology be guided by a set of Principles of Fair Information Practice, and that some of its potential uses be flatly prohibited.

    EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien has also criticized the use of RFIDs at a recent legislative hearing called by State of California Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach). Tien testified that governmental entities in California, such as CalTrans and the City of Santa Clara Public Library, have already begun to use RFIDs despite the fact that the California constitution explicitly recognizes and protects an individual's right to privacy.

    "How long will it be before the California DMV decides to embed RFIDs or other tracking technologies in our driver's licenses?" asked Tien. "The state has an obligation and an opportunity right now to step in to protect our privacy."


    Are You Next on the RIAA Hit List?

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has just announced a new wave of lawsuits in its ongoing crusade against the 60 million people who use peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Among its recent targets is a 79 year-old retiree who reportedly does not own a computer. Could you be next?

    EFF has updated our subpoena database with the most recent subpoenas available from the D.C. District court, allowing you to search through 2,444 subpoenas by username or IP address to determine whether or not the RIAA may have requested your personal information in that jurisdiction. Don't wait for a warning or lawsuit - check the database now and pass the word along to your family and friends.


    Hollywood Moves to Plug the "Analog Hole"; EFF Fights Back

    Movie studios have long fretted about the fact that because traditional analog video signals can't easily be encrypted, they aren't easily subject to the kind of restrictions that the studios apply to digital video. In an effort to solve this "analog hole" or "analog reconversion" problem, the studios have convened a group called the Analog Reconversion Discussion Group (ARDG), which recently solicited proposals from a number of companies for a solution.

    Analog video uses well-established public open standards and is ubiquitous. For many purposes, analog video is preferable to digital because it avoids technological restrictions on use and copying. In addition, technologists don't need burdensome and costly licenses to create systems or devices to interoperate with it.

    Even as technologists and consumers have seen these facts as advantages, the movie studios have seen them as disadvantages. In the name of "parity" or "equality" between analog and digital video signals, they have proposed to eliminate, by law, much of the flexibility that the public currently enjoys in its use of analog video.

    In response to the proposals for plugging the analog hole, EFF has filed comments with the ARDG that will be included in its final report. We point out that the companies either have failed to supply necessary technical details to assess their solution, or have proposed systems that are known to be easy to defeat. We contend that contrary to the movie studios' assertions, there is no currently proposed "analog hole" technology that is likely to be effective. Finally, we conclude that even if such a technology were to be developed, policymakers should be wary of mandating it because of the significant harm it would do to the public's rights under copyright law.


    Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2004 Pioneer Awards

    EFF established the Pioneer Awards to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. This is your opportunity to nominate a deserving individual or group to receive a Pioneer Award for 2004.

    The International Pioneer Awards nominations are open both to individuals and organizations from any country.

    All nominations are reviewed by a panel of judges chosen for their knowledge of the technical, legal, and social issues associated with information technology.

    This year's award ceremony will be held in Berkeley, California, in conjunction with the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference (CFP), which takes place in mid-April.

    How to Nominate Someone for a 2004 Pioneer Award:

    You may send as many nominations as you wish, but please use one email per nomination. Please submit your entries via email to We will accept nominations until February 1, 2004.

    Simply tell us:
    1. The name of the nominee,
    2. the phone number or email address at which the nominee can be reached, and, most importantly,
    3. why you feel the nominee deserves the award.

    You may attach supporting documentation as RTF files, Microsoft Word documents or other common binary or plain text formats.

    Nominee Criteria:

    There are no specific categories for the EFF Pioneer Awards, but the following guidelines apply:

    1. The nominees must have contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications.
    2. The contribution may be technical, social, economic, or cultural.
    3. Nominations may be of individuals, systems, or organizations in the private or public sectors.
    4. Nominations are open to all (other than current members of EFF's staff and board or this year's award judges), and you may nominate more than one recipient. You may also nominate yourself or your organization.
    5. To be valid, all nominations must contain your reason, however brief, for nominating the individual or organization and a means of contacting the nominee. In addition, while anonymous nominations will be accepted, ideally we'd like to contact the nominating parties in case we need further information.
    6. Persons or representatives of organizations receiving an EFF Pioneer Award will be invited to attend the ceremony at EFF's expense.

    Nominate a Pioneer:


    Deep Links

    Deep Links features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

    Staff Calendar

    For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with locations and times), please visit:

    • December 5 - Wendy Seltzer will be speaking at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School Cambridge, MA. - 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
    • December 8 - Wendy Seltzer will be speaking at Music 2.0 Los Angeles, CA. - 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.


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