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Diebold Threatens to Pull Out of North Carolina

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the truth-fight dept.

United States 615

foobaric writes "A North Carolina judge ruled that Diebold may not be protected from criminal prosecution if it fails to disclose the code behind its voting machines as required by law. In response, Diebold has threatened to pull out of North Carolina." From the article: "The dispute centers on the state's requirement that suppliers place in escrow 'all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system,' as well as a list of programmers responsible for creating the software. That's not possible for Diebold's machines, which use Microsoft Windows, Hanna said. The company does not have the right to provide Microsoft's code, he said, adding it would be impossible to provide the names of every programmer who worked on Windows."

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615 comments

FireFox 1.5 Released! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141059)

What happened to that FireFox 1.5 released post?!?!? :-)

Re:FireFox 1.5 Released! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141179)

seriously, who cares about this crap!!! give us the firefox post!!!!

Re:FireFox 1.5 Released! (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141202)

It should reach the front page thanks to a kind editor by saturday or sunday.

This new strategy of Asynchroneous Informations (or ASYN-IN) has been devised in order to lessen the load on the various servers and enable the Fark, SA and Diggs guys to crash'n burn servers before slashdot is even aware of said servers' existance

Re:FireFox 1.5 Released! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141373)

notice that the editors have removed any posts about firefox 1.5 being released. Isn't that a form of restricting free speech? Communist IE loving bastards...

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141063)

and M$ and Sony still Suck!

Hmm... (3, Interesting)

Concern (819622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141064)

Hmm... Good point.

Hey Diebold, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

(Not that state regulators which didn't require a voter-verified paper trail up front have qualifications for anything but a prison cell, but hey...)

as well as a list of programmers (3, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141265)

as well as a list of programmers responsible for creating the software.

If they were using Linux, do you really think they could provide a list of programmers? I mean come on think of the thousands upon thousands who have contributed, many times without mention...

-everphilski-

Re:as well as a list of programmers (4, Insightful)

theRiallatar (584902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141328)

Do we really need either OS to pick a bunch of names off a ballot and do a sum() on the results? I doubt we even need it to be multithreaded.

Re:Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141297)

True, Diebold hasn't made itself popular over the last few years. But I don't think this is an intrinsic issue for online voting companies.

Re:Hmm... (5, Interesting)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141322)

Diebold is frequently dinged for their ATMs whenever this topic arises. There are many fair criticisms and accusations against Diebold - this is not one of them. Banking termials are a fundamentally different set of problems than those presented by voting. Hell, aside from that, ATMs can depend on a well-connected private backbone network, with company owned lines and premise equipment.

The Diebold voting outfit was an aquisitio of a startup company, that was demonstrably lax in design and practices. The system cobbled together, of mostly desktop-oriented COTS was little more than a system for demonstration purposes, meeting almost no "behind the scenes" requirements that most anyone could have proposed. I would go as far as to say that this effort was, in likelyhood, a swindle.

Diebold is culpable for aquiring them - after a technology assessment - and continuing in this fashion. Possibly with the intent of enabling fraudulent vote recording and tabulation. Certainly Diebold "stonewalls", misrepresents and obfuscates every attempt to legitimately investigate their capability, practice and compliance.

But I don't worry about their ATMs!

don't go acting all : surprised ... (5, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141361)

"requirement that suppliers place in escrow 'all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system,' "


It is my understanding that this is a fairly common requirement for government contracts involving software. Diebold should have been aware of such requirements before competing for the contract. I mean, when the government's actually being responible and not just handing out plums to favored campaign contributors.

Hell, they're probably not even going to audit the code. They just want to protect themselves if Diebold goes out of business, or loses the contract on re-bid or something. I mean, sure, they can potentially audit the code, but I haven't heard of such a thing ever happening. It's about support and fixin' bugs an shit.

Is North Carolina...... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141072)

..... the only state with such a law? If not, how common are laws like this?

in other news (-1, Offtopic)

ndtechnologies (814381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141073)

Again, at the risk of being modded offtopic...

Firefox 1.5 is available for download from the Mozilla FTP site.

ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/rele ases/1.5 [mozilla.org]

Re:in other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141104)

Yeah, as I guess you seem to know, and for everyone else's benefit, the story about the release appeared to subscribers in the mysterious future, but apparently was pulled/delayed.

Re:in other news (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141219)

(this is on topic in this thread ;)

bravo! there was a DUPE coming about release 1.5 of firefox, and they have pulled it off! For the first time ever I'm aware of dupe which didn't appear!

The headline should read: (5, Informative)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141083)

Diebold forced out of North Carolina.

"Under pressure to comply with State Law, Diebold insead chooses to leave the field to its competitors."

Put up or... (4, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141090)

Let's tick this off:
*You are unwilling to
*You do not find it feasible to
*You find it technically impossible to
list the code in and programmers of your mission critical software that could have effects of the national security variety. The first? Maybe just greed. The second? Probably not a good sign. The third? If these people aren't getting the hint, something is seriously, seriously wrong here.

Re:Put up or... (1, Flamebait)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141171)

What I don't get, and believe me I have no good solution, is how we can put something so critical to our country in the hands of for-profit corporations. This just irks me. There are some things that just need to be off-limits for profit-taking. Granted, the list is pretty long and voting machines aren't right at the top, but this is just common sense. Who's bone-headed idea was it to put the future of our elections and our system of government in the hands of an entity whose sole purpose is to make a profit?

Re:Put up or... (2, Interesting)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141262)

I don't think that's as strong a point as you think it is. For example, for-profit industries have been our primary source of war materiel and defense procurements since just about the founding of the Republic, and this has not seriously weakened the country as a result. In fact, where advancement is needed the most, the incentive for profit is increased, because, unsurprisingly, the chance for big rewards leads people to take big risks. So I don't think the proper response to necessity or importance is to make profit illegal (quite the opposite, in fact) - the solution is to have better requirements in the first place. In other words, the government needs to be a much more savvy consumer and stop buying whatever crap is put in front of them. Essentially, this is what's happening in this case: the state is saying, this product does not meet our requirements. Diebold has the choice with complying with the requirements or losing the sales. If the motive for profit is strong enough, other companies with products that do meet the requirements will then compete to be selected. The state wins, the companies win, freedom wins.

Re:Put up or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141345)

As opposed to whom, the federal government?

if (candidate.incumbent) vote++;

Or perhaps educational institutions?

if (educational_funding_increase) vote++;

There's no easy, flippant answer to the question of who should write the software if not private industry.

Re:Put up or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141364)

What I don't get, and believe me I have no good solution, is how we can put something so critical to our country in the hands of for-profit corporations.

I could be wrong but don't all of us living in 2nd or 1st world countries put our lives in th hands of for-profit corporations every day when we drive, eat, catch an airplane, get an ultrasound, etc...

while the ethics of Diebold & the common sense of N. Carolina may be in question, I really doubt the economic goals of a company can be linked to the reliability of a company.

Or, I could be totally wrong in which case, fuck `em.

Proprietary shitware (5, Insightful)

55555 Manbabies! (861806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141092)

This is why Microsoft Windows is not a good choice for embedded systems. System designers should choose an unecumbered system such as Linux or BSD, particularly if any kind of security is required, like for voting or banking.

It suprises me that Diebold fails at this stuff so badly, considering how they've been doing it for years. I cringe every time I roll up to an ATM with their name on it. Luckily, my bank uses mostly NCR hardware :)

Could you list ALL Linux coders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141154)

Linux and BSD would suffer from the same problems. Could you conclusively and accurately list the name of EVERY programmer to touch the code? I doubt it. The projects have evolved so far, and in early days didn't use source code repositories and logs.

Re:Could you list ALL Linux coders? (1)

PopCulture (536272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141237)

Could you conclusively and accurately list the name of EVERY programmer to touch the code

assuming a source control policy that forbids check-ins and commits by anonymous accounts, yes, you probably could? I think?

Nope (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141302)

That's just the thing - there hasn't been that kind of control in the "early days" of the kernel development, and with other various tools that are essential to running linux there is often little version control that is implemented.

-everphilski-

Re:Could you list ALL Linux coders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141303)

There would be no requirement to name the programmers if the entire system's source code were available for inspection.

Re:Proprietary shitware (5, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141155)

Usually when you develop an embedded system, you demand code escrow from your suppliers. Microsoft is a special case though, because when they enter the conversation everybody seems to become stupid. If they had gone with any other vendor (I'm not just talking Linux here... They could have used VxWorks, QNX, BSD, one of the various DOSes...) they would have had code escrow. I bet they do for every other third party bit of software on their machine.

The list of developer names is pretty unreasonable, but code escrow is something that happens all the time, and only Microsoft manages to get out of it.

Re:Proprietary shitware (2, Insightful)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141347)

Embedded XP and Windows CE dev kits come with source code. So what was you point again? As for developers listing, nevada gaming commissions requires it, Why should slot machines meet a higher standard than voting machines? I'm pretty sure microsoft could come up with a list of the developers that worked on windows, you know that hr department thingy. Can linux or bsd do the same? If not, they are out of the equation.

Please buy a clue thanks. [microsoft.com]

Re:Proprietary shitware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141181)

fyi, NCR machines uses practically every OS out there, including dos 3, every version of windows, and unix.

Re:Proprietary shitware (5, Insightful)

cat6509 (887285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141200)

"This is why Microsoft Windows is not a good choice for embedded systems. System designers should choose an unecumbered system such as Linux or BSD, particularly if any kind of security is required, like for voting or banking." So are you saying it is possible to list the names of every programmer who worked on Linux ? I wouldn't think so. ( Please correct me if I am wrong ) As far as I can tell if this is a true requirement, someone will have to start from scratch, ( OS and all )

A Threat? (2, Insightful)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141093)

"...In response, Diebold has threatened to pull out of North Carolina."

Exactly how is this a threat? It's like terrorists threatening to take their ball and go home.

Message Loud and Clear... (2, Interesting)

vmcto (833771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141094)

I don't fault Diebold for being reluctant to move forward given the language of the statute.

It seems to be clear that the intent was to have the actual source code and not just a copy of the software. Also, it isn't at all clear if that means the underlying platform or just the voting application on top of it, but why take a chance. And really, what would be the point of having access to half of the software stack?

Either the state of North Carolina really doesn't want a windows based voting solution or they are accidentally sending the message that "no closed source solutions need apply".

In either case poor, misunderstood Diebold may have to take their ball and go home. I think we can all agree that given their [bbvforums.org] track [bbvdocs.org] record [wired.com], this is a good thing.

Re:Message Loud and Clear... (4, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141186)

It seems to be clear that the intent was to have the actual source code and not just a copy of the software. Also, it isn't at all clear if that means the underlying platform or just the voting application on top of it, but why take a chance. And really, what would be the point of having access to half of the software stack?

I think you guys are really reaching here. I don't see how what OS an application has to do with it. Providing the source code for the application should be enough. If Diebold is really taking this position, I think they are doing so to spread FUD. I don't think the state regulators care about the OS but rather the software used to control the voting machine. For you guys to buy into this is quite unfortunate and you are only helping Diebolds case by being sucked in by it.

Re:Message Loud and Clear... (3, Insightful)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141284)

that's exactly what their doing. See, they don't want to publish their code, so they point to Windows and say, we can't comply so we're pulling out. They're hoping the state strikes the requirement in response so they can come back in without ever mentioning the integrity or quality of their own code.

Please tell me someone capitalizing on open source voting is standing around to seize the opportunity.

Re:Message Loud and Clear... (1)

FuzzyDustBall (751425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141334)

I would agree with you if they where selling an application, they are not. They are selling a system and using windows on that system was a poor choice for a number of security reasons including not being able to produce source code. Had they gone with other closed source smaller oses they could trim it down to the bare min needed and supply the source. I know when I worked with QNX getting source from them was just an NDA away and we where only buy several hundread licenses.

Re:Message Loud and Clear... (3, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141187)

Or in fact they're sending that message on purpose- that in a democratic country, a closed source voting system is a direct threat.

threatened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141098)

In response, Diebold has threatened to pull out of North Carolina.

How can Diebold "threaten" to do something we want them to do anyway? That's like my boss threatening to give me a $1 million raise if I don't show up for work.

hold on hold on hold on (0)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141103)

Diebold wants to sell the government voting machines ... for a democratic republic vote ... in a "free" country ... and as part of the deal the boxes have to be open to review and audit ...

Now they don't want to have people reviewing the boxes (what are they hiding?) and as a result of a judicial ruling they won't sell them anymore?

To rephrase my understanding of it: They are threatening to stop selling something we don't want?

Am I the only one perplexed by this? Maybe they're using the threat of lost jobs to sway the government to use their half-ass voting boxes? I'd rather see a dozen people out of work then an entire nation subject to false democracy [well put aside the fact that there isn't any democracy anyways...].

Hey Diebold, why not sell the boxes up north? We could use all the help we can get getting rid of the Liberals here :-)

Tom

Re:hold on hold on hold on (1)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141229)

Hey...Ease up...we don't need no stinkin voting machines...liberals have enough advantages already ...no need to have them stuffing the electronic ballot boxes too.

*Who* threatens? (5, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141108)

Something must be very wrong if the supplier is threatening the customer. What happened to the free market? If Diebold don't want the business, I'm sure another enterprising company will appreciate it.

Re:*Who* threatens? (4, Informative)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141309)

That's what happens in a free economy. Alas when dealing with govt purchases there is a tremendous amount of corruption and backroom dealing. Chances are the spec was written to make sure only diebold machines qualified. This is a common tactic when the bribes have already been received, hands have already been shaken, winks and nudges have already been traded.

If Diebold pulls out and somebody else steps in Diebold will sue the state for choosing a vendor which did not qualify under the original bid.

Most often laws and bids are written to benefit just one company like when a law gets passed exempting "any aluminum processing company which employs more then 300 people in a designated enterprise zone" meaning the alcoa plant down the street.

Procurement is the same. The specs are written so that only product complies.

Re:*Who* threatens? (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141321)

The free market doesn't exist for governments, only people. YOU can choose not to use a device manufactured by Diebold or Microsoft, because you are an individual consumer. The government has a whole political process behind it's purchasing decisions (usually, the government purchases from a company that gives the biggest kickbacks to the people in charge).

What a dodge... (1)

bhsx (458600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141109)

The company does not have the right to provide Microsoft's code, he said, adding it would be impossible to provide the names of every programmer who worked on Windows
Um, yeah, complete dodge. Of course they don't mean to turn over windows code.
For the real reason I'd suspect he doesn't want to show the code: blackboxvoting.org

Thus, thanks to the partnership with Diebold (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141110)

It is possible that they'll have to pull out of North Carolina as well- or have to tell us the names of every programmer who worked on Windows as well as release the source code.

I wonder if Linspire will offer licenses to replace Windows boxen there?

Diebold threatens to pull out of North Carolina (4, Funny)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141113)

I sense a great disturbance in the electorate... as if millions of voices cried out in... No wait, I'm confusing that with millions of voices not giving a rat's ass. See ya, Diebold.

Accountability. Or Lack there of (1)

cyanics (168644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141126)

I am sure Microsoft has a listing of ALL programmers who have contributed to Windows programming (kinda a requirement for legal reasons, and ISO certification, if I remember correctly.

So, lets take a different stance. Say Microsoft was not part of the equation. Since the OS is windows, all software run above windows is required to disclose. Why is that impossible?

nah. I think that its just a bunch of trippe, trying to evade a level of accountability that they do not want to have to adhere to. Afterall, what if (not saying it will) but if something happened? it would litterally mean the end of Diebold.

Re:Accountability. Or Lack there of (1)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141217)

Can linux or bsd list all the programmers who have contributed?

Yet again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141128)

This is yet another example of the techno-ignorance of our countries politicians, which is slowly eating away at our countries potential to remain at the forefront of technological advancement.

In other news, congress passes law requiring phone-tap ability on all VOIP conversations which occur over the internet, including all MSN Messenger and AIM voice conversations, xbox live conversations, skype .... oh.... wait.... they must not have thought that one out either...

Closed source is not the best tool (3, Interesting)

nharmon (97591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141129)

This is simply a situation where closed source software is not the best tool for the job. Diebold is more than welcome to submit an open source solution, or play the the crybaby-going-home-and-taking-my-toy-with-me game.

My only question is how far down do these legal requirements go? If the operating system the voting software is running on needs to be open sourced, what about the hardware firmware? Does it need to be open source as well?

Re:Closed source is not the best tool (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141354)

At least as far as providing a list of all the developers who touched the code wouldn't closed source be easier. I'm sure MS could pull a list of all it's Windows developers. Can the same be siad about some of the open sourced OS's?

The software behind voting machines should be OSS (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141133)

If anything NEEDS to be open-source, it is the software behind voting machines.

The populace deserves to know what exactly is going on behind the scenes.
The system governing voting needs to be transparent to allow the public to police fraud.

If open-source software fails, we will all know why it fails.

Threatened or promised? (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141134)

All depends on how you look, doesn't it?

If Microsoft is responsible for 99% of the code on a voting machine, (i.e. the OS and underlying libraries - basically everything Diebold didn't write), you really can't guarantee that an attacker won't compromise the system by targeting his attack against the 99% of the code that can't be examined.

Under such a circumstance, if I were on a standards board for voting equipment, (and assuming further that I was more interested in the integrity of the voting process than the kickbacks my bosses would be able to get for ensuring that certain vendors won the process), I'd take Diebold's "threat" as a "promise".

Diebold makes great bank machines - because banks aren't trying to provide authentication and anonymization at the same time. That's a fundamentally different problem than voting, where you have to provide an accurate and anonymous count. If Diebold hasn't figured that out in the 5 years since 2000, they never will. Please, Diebold, just go. This is not a market that needs your services, and you've already spent more trying to capture it than you'll ever be able to milk it for.

I say red herring/deflection (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141148)

Hey, Diebold, mshaft may be providing the base windoze warez, but aren't YOU doing the add-ons and customizations? Stop trying to BULLSHIT the judge. Since WHEN was mshaft in the ATM and voting machines software development/customization business?

Sheesh...

word image: shames
(and, how appropriate...)

Re:I say red herring/deflection (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141184)

Oh, and, I suppose if Diebold pulls out of the state (and, presumably, the voting AND ATM software business, Diebold can "die boldly"....

fuck em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141162)

fuck em, let em pull out if they don't like the law they AGREED to abide by. next!

So do it embedded. (1)

xtal (49134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141170)

I develop from the CPU up all the time. Cry me a river.

It's a VOTING SYSTEM. Not the space shuttle.

How about disclosing circuit designs for the chip? (2, Interesting)

Utopia (149375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141185)

Afterall regardless of the software used,
the hardware might be designed to ignore software instructions
and give a different set of voting results.

Re:How about disclosing circuit designs for the ch (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141299)

Actually you could disclose the hardware pretty easily: use an FPGA-based open-core CPU.

Now that's not entirely true (1)

bhalter80 (916317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141194)

To start with getting the names of all the people that worked on windows should be trivial as any competant IT department should be able to provide a list of all checkins made to the RCS system. Secondly if I were bidding on a contract that had some sticky requirement that I could not get around say for example I sold manufacturing equipment in Europe which is 220V but I desperately wanted to break into the US market I would not be able to get the contract then turn around and argue that the requirements are too strict and I should be able to sell them 220V equipment instead of the 110V equipment required in the US. What Dibold is doing is equivalent in my opinion to the latter. They got the contract and now they're unhappy with the requirements. Maybe they should leave NC as it would send the message that you must provide what you were contracted to nothing more and nothing less

how about california (1)

Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141208)

please pull out of california as well. and any other state you do buisness in.

make our states safe for democracy. or at least make it slightly harder to change election results.

Is Windows Live an option? (1)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141213)

Hopefully Diebold will start using Windows Live on their next voting systems, I want to see the latest propaganda and mudslinging about the politician / law I'm voting for!

move to opensource (1)

el_jake (22335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141214)

It is so simpel to solve. Trash the flawed system and move to opensource.

Re:move to opensource (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141318)

... as well as a list of programmers responsible for creating the software.


Please list all the people who have ever contributed code to the GNU/Linux operating system, if you can.

I Threatened To Pull Out Of Carolina Once (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141222)

Man was she ever pissed off. She threatened to cut it off so I didn't pull out of Carolina and we've both been happy ever since.

Nice tits too.

Awww... Poor Diebold (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141225)

Isn't anyone going to come to their defense here? C'mon; there's gotta be someone that likes them and thinks they're being treated unfairly.

(But not me; I'd just suggest that hiding the inner workings of voting equipment should be considered prima facie evidence of intent to defraud the public. ;-)

This is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141227)

I don't think they want the code to Windows disclosed, just the code to the voting software.

Diebold is making a big stink and blowing everything out of preportion by saying "OMFG, we can't possibly realease the Windows code"... blah blah blah...

The real issue is that Diebold don't want to release the code for the voting software they wrote, Windows has nothing to do with it.

I knew it! (1)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141230)

I knew I would see the anti-Diebold and anti-Microsoft propaganda from this crowd. But Diebold was a valid point. Let's say some other company, let's call them GNUVote, makes a voting machine. It's based on Linux and OpenSource code.

Under North Carolina law, please provide me all the developers who were responsible in the development of this code.

I didn't think so.

The law is simply impractical. There is no way to obtain a complete list of all developers whether it's for Microsoft Windows or Linux. In the case of a vendor running windows (which is possible, Windows can actually be pretty well hardened), the vendor wouldn't be able to meet the requirements of the law, anyway.

So then what? Back to paper and pens?

Re:I knew it! (4, Insightful)

DataCannibal (181369) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141352)

"So then what? Back to paper and pens?"

Why not? That's what we use in the UK for all national, reginal and local elections. It's worked well enough for a few hundred years.

Exactly (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141362)

The law is simply impractical.

You nailed it on the head. And actually in this case Windows has a better shot, technically they could go back through tax and medical records to fish out missed employees, Linux doesn't have a paper trail. Either way it's a law that's reaching too far. The source code should be sufficient.(and then the company is held responsible)

-everphilski-

And this is a bad thing exactly how? (1)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141233)

Good riddance, I'd say. One down, forty nine to go. Maybe the 2006 elections can be fair afterall.

questionable code (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141236)

it's quite obvious that a company like diebold, with rather vast resources, simply doesnt want the code verified for it voting and manipulation abilities. it is well documented that a variety of backdoors exist within the system including simple ftp access to raw data, and the ability to change it at will by any user. couple that with a nonexistant paper trail or the ability to verify the code does what they say it does. anyone actually recall the huge difference in exit polls and actual count? it was so off that cnn stopped reporting on exit polls, which have a high measure of historical accuracy. so much so that exit polls are used in new voting democracies to determine vote fraud.
i for one do not welcome our new data enabled overlords....

Why Develop On Windows? (1)

jevvim (826181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141239)

Because when they want you to submit the source code for "everything" needed to run your app, you can blame Microsoft and avoid any questions about the code that you did get away with using for one election -- an election which was "delivered to Mr. Bush" as promised by Diebold executives.

Such a shame... (5, Funny)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141242)

A North Carolina judge ruled that Diebold may not be protected from criminal prosecution if it fails to disclose the code behind its voting machines as required by law. In response, Diebold has threatened to pull out of North Carolina.

Gee, that would be such a shame if that were to happen. I mean, North Carolina needs voting machines that are compromised by design, made by a company that has a vested interest in who wins the election, right?

Oh, whatever is North Carolina to do without voting machines made by an upstanding company like Diebold? Why, their voters might have to use the old paper ballot system instead! The horror!

Please stay, Diebold! Only a good rigged election can give us confidence in democracy!

Sucks... (1, Interesting)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141245)

...to be you, Diebold.
Ok, now that I have that off my chest ... I have been wondering of late whether we are not in fact arriving at a time when more organisations are going to demand not just open standards for document formats, but the actual right to the ability to peer-review code for which they are in some way, shape or form responsible. How can a company be sure that it isn't distributing rootkits on their CDs if they can't look at the code? Think Sony is going to think twice about buying code that it hasn't reviewed?

Since the state is responsible to ensure that voting is fair, transparent and auditable, it makes good sense to make this code open source. I'm not arguing over a specific license - for the purpose of this discussion copyright is not important : only that anyone who wishes to ensure that their consitutional right to vote has been properly administered is able to do so.
This reminds me of the debate over opening the source code on the breathalizers in Florida...

In my opinion, anything that the guv uses should be open source, excepting areas of national security (i.e. where some piece of code gives direct knowledge that shouldn't be handed out ... like missle launch code maybe?)

Aren't these guys using Windows CE? (5, Informative)

Utopia (149375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141254)

Windows CE source code is available
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/sharedsource/Li censing/WindowsCE.mspx [microsoft.com]

With Windows CE, "OEM customers worldwide can create and distribute commercial derivatives of the Windows CE 5.0 operating system source code for shipping in commercial devices without notifying Microsoft or sharing their derivative works with the embedded community."

Interpretation of responsible (3, Interesting)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141270)

Other posters are making a lot of hay over the responsible programmers portion of the statute - obviously, if you need to list everyone who contributed code that would tend to be impossible (although a few projects could probably comply.)

  However, I'm fairly sure that you could meet that requirement with a list of the *responsible* programmers - i.e., the people in charge making decisions. Thus, you don't need to list every programmer - the person in charge of your particular embedded system fork ought to be sufficient.

Porting the software to OSS (2)

chrstphrb (885917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141277)

For the love of god, don't advise them to port the software to $OSS-OS (linux) - least you give OSS a black-eye when they fail...

Clarity (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141280)

The State Board of Elections has told potential suppliers to provide code for all available software and explain why some is unavailable. That's not enough of an assurance for Diebold, which remains concerned about breaking a law...

The problem is, it looks like Diebold cannot follow the letter of the law, because they use Windows (and possibly other third-party proprietary code). The State Board of Elections is implying that this won't be a problem, but the law itself isn't entirely clear, and a judge could easily disagree with the Board of Elections.

Sounds to me like input from the state legislature is needed. Did they intend to ban any voting machines that use proprietary third-party software such as Windows, or did they intend to only require the source code and list of programmers for Diebold's own additions? If the law as written doesn't make this clear, then the law should be modified for clarity.

The law requires a list of programmers, as well as the source code. Can you come up with a list of everyone who has ever contributed code to a Linux distribution such as RHEL? Maybe, but it wouldn't be a lot of fun.

Of course, if they clarify that proprietary third-party code is OK, what's to stop Diebold from forming a subsidiary to create proprietary code and licensing it back to Diebold, so Diebold can claim the whole thing is licensed from third parties and therefore not subject to the requirements of this law? I'd be happy to see North Carolina require completely open source software [sourceforge.net] on all electronic voting machines used in the state, and other states follow suit.

The code should be submitted because... (0, Flamebait)

KrisCowboy (776288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141281)

Elections in America are no longer a domestic matter. The consequences this particular country's elections can be felt to the remotest corners of the civilized world. Open up the Diebold's code so everyone can be sure there are no world domination attempts going on behind the scenes. Or, move the damn thing to Linux. That would solve atleast half the problem, isn't it?

Diebold? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141305)

Since when did paper and pencil use Windows?

I live in North Carolina, and I've always voted with a paper ballot. I question how much of the state this is really going to affect.

YARNTUMS... (0, Troll)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141311)

Yet another fine reason to avoid using proprietary software made by a criminal monopoly. Can't provide the legal specifications for all the code you're providing. How wonderful.

Smell that? That's sarcasm.

but wasn't windoze's source leaked, over and over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14141316)

I thought I recall MS getting all in a huff when the windows source code appeared all over the net. SO Diebold should have no trouble giving out that source code, it is already available.

Seems like a bad law (1)

crimoid (27373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141326)

Could you imagine listing the names of anyone who has contributed to Linux, FreeBSD or any other large open source project?

This law seems to be overly narrow.

Strangely worded rule... (1)

MaestroSartori (146297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141335)

..."all programmers responsible for creating the software", I mean.

Depending on the definition of "the software", and how rigorously you wanted to check for tampering that could include:

* the Diebold application programmers
* the compiler programmers (persumably Visual Studio and related tools in this case)
* any third-party library programmers (drivers for custom voting boxes, maybe?)
* the operating system programmers (various Microsofties)
* BIOS programmers (low-level tampering might not be impossible, I dunno)
* CPU microcode programmers (really low-level tampering might not be impossible, I really dunno!)

and so on. Could an OSS solution provider actually give a full list of all the contributers to all of the sensible entries in the list? (Assuming the last two are kind of a joke, depending on their technical feasibility for which I have no idea)

At the very least, Diebold should be providing their application source code to the court. They could lob the ball into Microsoft's court for the OS, at least...

It's pretty obvious Diebold has no case! (1)

VegeBrain (135543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141339)

Why else would they argue so stupidly? It's pretty obvious that North Carolina wants their code, not Microsoft's. I'm sure Diebold knows this but they're so desperate they're gone into the absurd zone.

They also haven't gone far enough. If you take their argument to it's logical conclusion then they also should cough up the microcode for the CPUs they use, the software for device drivers, the embedded code in the modems they use, and so forth.There's no reason to stop with the Windows source code. Keep on going!

I think North Carolina has them scared.

Open Source Problem? (1)

joecm (16636) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141343)

I did not RTFA, but if companies are required to put their software in escrow and note everyone who has contributed code, who has the list of everyone who ever contributed code to Linux? Not their online alias, not their email addres, but their actual name. How about other Open Source applications?

Maybe it exists, but it seems like it would be much easier for a closed source product such as windows to come up with that information.

So tell me again (3, Insightful)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141353)

why this is an argument in favor of closed source voting machines? Security through obscurity my a$$. This simply highlights problems with high-security black box applications - not even they know what's in the code they're running. They have to trust the other vendor(s) (MS, whose track record on security is terrible and a matter of public record) that the code is secure but cannot prove it, yet they expect us to believe their code is secure.

And more suspiciously, why are they threatening to leave instead of complying as much as possible? The court (i.e. ruling judge) should be able to apply the law in such a way that Diebold discloses all of their code, and then any remaining proprietary code from other vendors can be handled with those other vendors. Or is it that Diebold has something to hide? If their code really is secure, and actually does what they claim then they should have no problem showing everything they legally own. There really isn't anything that should be a trade secret about vote tabulation. I, for one, think it's disgusting that any US company would actually do the country such a disservice by trying to obfuscate for profit a product which is meant to facilitate the practice of democracy. Honestly, the whole board should be deported for conspiring to commit vote fraud. It would trivial to prove their innocence, simply release the code. Any other excuse smacks of dishonesty. In matters of government the appearance of impropriety should be treated as impropriety until/unless demonstrated otherwise.

This law seems extreme. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14141367)

The source for Windows? This may be impossible to meet with any OS on the planet. Does anyone have a list of every programmer that worked on Linux? What about GCC? ls? Every device driver that Linux has?
What about the BIOS that the machine is using? What about the microcode in the CPU?
I am all for Open Source but this standard may just be impossible to meet.
Maybe they should make it the Application. Or just require the source code?
If you can get past the microcode and the requirements for all the programmers names I guess you could build a system with a Linux bios running Linux or BSD.
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