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Sequoia Threatens Over Voting Machine Evaluation

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-look-in-there dept.

Businesses 221

enodo writes "Voting machine manufacturer Sequoia has sent well-known Princeton professor Ed Felten and his colleague Andrew Appel a letter threatening to sue if New Jersey sends them a machine to evaluate. It's not clear from the letter Sequoia sent whether they intend to sue the professors or the state — presumably that ambiguity was deliberate on Sequoia's part. Put another clipping in your scrapbook of cases of companies invoking 'intellectual property rights' for bogus reasons." Sequoia seems to be claiming that no one can make a "report" regarding their "software" without their permission.

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221 comments

Speechless. (1)

zifferent (656342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786840)

Just speechless.

Re:Speechless. (5, Insightful)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786960)

Just speechless.

That's often the results with certain voting machines.

handy though (4, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787318)

If this gets thrown out, it will really dent future attempts to use methods like this to shield shoddy products.

If you ask me, Sequoia has been given some very bad legal advice. Didn't anyone stop to think about the public relations nightmare this would cause? Not to mention damage to their business.

Re:handy though (1)

rograndom (112079) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787500)

Didn't anyone stop to think about the public relations nightmare this would cause? Not to mention damage to their business.


Yes, and that's why Sequoia's threatening to sue. They obviously don't want the machine inspected.

Re:handy though (3, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787552)

If this gets thrown out? Surely no court could be so stupid to think that a third party's opinions of an available product can be stifled on the grounds of intellectual property laws. I can't think of anything even reasonably close to a valid excuse to allow it to go through. Perhaps they expect that it will come across as libelous (meaning a completely valid and accurate assessment that portrays them in a negative light - which just means that your company/product sucks), but the review would have to be out there first. I don't think a gag order can be issued in this kind of situation, and an NDA violation (assuming they ever held up in court, which is very rarely the case) hardly applies here.

I don't think a PR nightmare really applies. This kind of stuff rarely if ever hits mainstream media, and us geeks of Slashdot aren't really the type to buy into proprietary tools in general, let alone ones used for voting.

Re:handy though (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787564)

There is an alternative to all of this. New Jersey can simple remove Sequoia from the list of companies they're considering for voting machines. I mean, if they don't have it already, they can simply pass law stating that all those submitting bids for supplying the state with voting machines must make a machine available for independent review by an organization or institution of the state's choice. If Sequoia doesn't like those terms, they don't have to bid.

It's true, however, that IP claims are getting out of hand when a government and/or institution doing some work for the government is threatened with a lawsuit over testing hardware. These events are only going to get more egregious and ludicrous until Washington and the courts start handing these abusers their proverbial balls on a platter.

Re:Speechless. (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787014)

Just speechless.

You are speechless for the right reasons but the majority of the American public will be speechless for another and far more unfortunate reason :(

Re:Speechless. (3, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787428)

the majority of the American public will be speechless for another and far more unfortunate reason
So - Let's let them be heard. Let's put the decision on whether or not to use the machines to a vote. It can be a trial run for Sequoia's machines. If Sequoia tells us that we voted in favor of using their machines, we know they're lying and ditch 'em.

Re:Speechless. (1)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787654)

Easy evaluation: "Epic fail."

Reasons: "The system was incapable of operating within the evaluation environment."

Re:Speechless. (1)

PurpleZebra (1201249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787824)

That was my reaction as well, are these people seriously pulling this? I don't know whats more pathetic ... them pulling it or the fact that the courts will most likely uphold it.

Easy solution. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22786848)

Send a letter back saying no one can sue you without your permission. Problem solved!

Mod Parent Down - Anti-Semitic. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22786950)

What you propopse would punish Jews by making it more difficult for them to steal your money.

Jews are theives. Do your research!

No permission should be needed (4, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786860)

I am sure the state of New Jersey can tell Sequoia to accept this investigation or say good-bye to any certification. Sequoia is just making themselves look bad and like they have something to hide.

Goatse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22787130)

Goatse [twofo.co.uk] [goatse.ch]

You nerds love it.

Re:No permission should be needed (4, Interesting)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787278)

I am sure the state of New Jersey can tell Sequoia to accept this investigation or say good-bye to any certification. Sequoia is just making themselves look bad and like they have something to hide.

I agree however New Jersey probably has already paid for the machines. I can't see Sequoia telling the state they can't test them, have them tested scientifically, if they haven't already been paid for. This case can however be used to show other potential buyers just how the company operates.

Falcon

Re:No permission should be needed (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787806)

I can't see Sequoia telling the state they can't test them, have them tested scientifically, if they haven't already been paid for.
Sequoia may have sold New Jersey the machine, but leased the software, or not.
Who knows?

It really depends on what the contract is between Sequoia and the State.
None of us know the details, so really, this whole thread is going to be just speculation.

Re:No permission should be needed (3, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787316)

With the company threatening legal action, why even consider going forward with the investigation? Threats usually come from feeling that what you're threatening is dangerous in some way, so it's highly likely there are security problems to be found. Additionally, the state shouldn't even consider using a company that opposes a comprehensive security evaluation.

Re:No permission should be needed (1)

justsomecomputerguy (545196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787344)

I am sure New Jersey could and say "No review, no contract". But WILL they?
There are so many times when people COULD do the right thing, but they don't.

Spend ten bucks on a box of envelopes and some stamps and start writing those letters.

Put YOUR representative's office phone number on YOUR speed dial and CALL every week until we hear sense from them.

Do it. Do it. Do it.

It doesn't get much simpler or fundamental than this.

Re:No permission should be needed (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787374)

I am sure the state of New Jersey can tell Sequoia to accept this investigation or say good-bye to any certification.

Tell them to accept the investigation? As far as I'm concerned, the fact that they are threatening to sue to avoid having their software examined for flaws automatically disqualifies them from consideration. Why bother with the investigation now? They are practically admitting that their software isn't good enough and that they will do anything possible to avoid fixing it.

I Agree with Sequoia on this (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787740)

and you too.

If their contract declares as such then they are in the right.

However, it should be a requirement at the state level, if not federal, to require this sort of outside verification and study. If a manufacturer does not agree to it then they should be considered for the application. Fair is fair.

Don't want to be hold accountable then don't expect our money.

I am quite sure some other company will step forward if there is money to be made and their intellectual property rights are protected. I am all for testing and certification by outside groups but I also realize that there is investment here and that needs protected first. What must come first is OUR rights, our rights to know that outside experts have certified a solution and future implementations will protect our vote. Surely some company will step up to this for the money. Maybe it will be the kick in the pants for some group already in place to do so.

Sweet. (5, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786868)

Yes, that is *exactly* what we want Sequoia to do. Sue a Priceton professor & *security* researcher.

Bullet. Meet foot.

Re:Sweet. (3, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787522)

Actually, threatening Felten with a lawsuit is quite effective. Now actual lawsuit needs to be filed. Since this would be consulting work, not research, he would not be covered by Princeton's Lawyers and will have to fend for himself, which is quite expensive -- so the threat of litigation might be enough to deter him. New Jersey, being a state, cannot be sued without its consent.

The ambiguity is a dead giveaway. (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786880)

It's not clear from the letter Sequoia sent whether they intend to sue the professors or the state -- presumably that ambiguity was deliberate on Sequoia's part.

In other words, this is a scare tactic with nothing to back it up, pure and simple. If Sequoia thought the would have had actual grounds to sue, you can bet that they would have been chillingly specific in their letter.

When people resort to these sort of tactics to attempt to dissuade you, you can be assured you're doing something right.

Re:The ambiguity is a dead giveaway. (1)

FreetoGoodhome (1248150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787086)

I would like to add that Sequoia didn't cite any portion of the "license ageement" that is supposed to be specifically violated. I'll bet there are a bunch of legal types who would take the defense of this case pro-bono. I would bet that, like any other government body, there are some statutes that limit what limitations Sequoia can impose. This can only get more interesting. November is a-coming.

Re:The ambiguity is a dead giveaway. (3, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787256)

In other words, this is a scare tactic with nothing to back it up, pure and simple.

I'm wondering "how thay can threaten their customer?" Who do they think they are, the RIAA and that New Jersey is a mom on food stamps?

But perhaps they can. This cynical old man thinks there's a lot more here than meets the eye - Sequoia may surreptuously funnel cash to the campaigns of some of the high ranking New Jersey goons, er, excuse me, lawmakers/bureaucrats.

But then I'm in Illinois where the last Democrat Governor [wikipedia.org] went to prison, and the last Republican Governor [wikipedia.org] then went to prison. I'm thinking if a Republican wins the next Governor election, Blago [wikipedia.org] will join Ryan in a cell.

Rich powerful people don't play nice. You don't get to be a rich, powerful man by giving a rat's ass about anyone or anything except your money and power.

-mcgrew

(background on Illinois Politics): [wikipedia.org]

Politics in the state, particularly Chicago machine politics, have been famous for highly visible corruption cases, as well as for crusading reformers such as governors Adlai Stevenson (D) and James Thompson (R). In 2006, former Governor George Ryan (R) was convicted of racketeering and bribery. In the late 20th century Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (Dem) was imprisoned for mail fraud; former governor and federal judge Otto Kerner, Jr. (D) was imprisoned for bribery; and State Auditor of Public Accounts (Comptroller) Orville Hodge (R) was imprisoned for embezzlement. In 1912 William Lorimer, the GOP boss of Chicago, was expelled from the U.S. Senate for bribery, and in 1921 Governor Len Small (R) was found to have defrauded the state of a million dollars.[58][27][15]

Re:The ambiguity is a dead giveaway. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787458)

It is a scare tactic. But don't think they have nothing to back it up. Now, harassment suing isn't really much of a threat. The state has competent lawyers and legal expenses can easily be sold to the voters as an unavoidable cost, and Felton can probably find a dozen lawyers with IP expertise who'd be delighted to represent him pro-bono, but there is still the possibility that they would actually win, depending on the licensing agreement.

Check, Meet Balance (4, Interesting)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786892)

A voting apparatus without a clear path for auditing of every system and sub-system is an invitation to corruption. Comparable mechanisms in governance have checks and balances to ensure fidelity.

Why do these shifty porkchops think they ought to be exempt? Because it may make their investors nervous?

This is definitely a situation where the bottom line should be drawn by logic, not by dollars.

Re:Check, Meet Balance (2, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787168)

Maybe that's how this happened. Some clueless board member demands something to be done, slamming his first on the table. The task gets assigned to the CEO, who assigns it to the lawyers, who do "something" that will appease the chain of command all the while knowing how useless it is.

Re:Check, Meet Balance (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787336)

Any voting system should be verifiable by any member of the voting populous. Having a PhD in computer science should not be prerequisite for understanding the voting system. You also shouldn't have to take somebody else's word for it either. Pen and paper hand counted ballots make sense, because anybody can see exactly what's going on, and fully understand the process. If voters don't understand the voting system, then they might as well not even be voting.

Re:Check, Meet Balance (3, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787438)

The problem is the lack of even a single impartial ballot counter. Whereas an expertly designed and reviewed machine can be reasonably guaranteed to be bias-free.

Fixing elections is not something that has been enabled by new technology. The problem here is that the technology was supposed to reduce the fraud and inaccuracies, but it turns out it's just as hackable as the old pen & paper or punchcard systems despite the higher cost.

Re:Check, Meet Balance (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787586)

That's why the ballots can be counted, or viewed by multiple parties, who should all agree on the final counts. Anybody should be allowed to stand around and watch the counting. I'm not saying that no fraud would happen, because it's happened in the past, and it will happen in the future. I'm just saying that it should be obvious to the voting public when fraud is happening. The problem with machines, is that even if they are verified, it's impossible to know what code is running on it when you walk up to it on election day. Think of game consoles. They try to make it so you can only run licensed content. But people always find a way to run homebrew/pirated games. You can verify the machine all you want. There's no guaranteeing that the same machine will actually be used on election day. You could probably even put a completely different machine in front of people on election day, possibly in the same casing, although that's not even necessary, and people wouldn't even know they were using the wrong machine, because each polling district uses different machines.

Re:Check, Meet Balance (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787950)

What exactly could I, as a member of the voting populous, do to ensure that a pen and paper system hasn't been somehow gamed? Count up every ballot myself? The idea that a single citizen can oversee the process seems a bit far-fetched, either for paper ballots or an electronic system.

The world's finances and markets are governed by computers. There are ways to ensure someone simply doesn't add or delete arbitrary amounts of money to accounts. Tell me how this problem can be solved, yet tallying votes can't somehow be secured. I have a hard time believe that just because politics are involved, somehow the rules of security suddenly don't apply.

Please understand, I'm neither disagreeing with your assertion that oversight and accountability is critical nor am I defending the manufacturer of any current voting systems. I just think that, at a fundamental level, it *is* possible to create a secure electronic voting system. Keep in mind that, as with any complex system, the human side of the equation (such as operating and oversight procedures) are just as important as the technical side.

I for one... (2)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786894)

...don't think that Sequoias [wikipedia.org] should be voting in the first place.

Re:I for one... (2, Funny)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787402)

...don't think that Sequoias should be voting in the first place.

I'm not so sure. Perhaps they would have known enough to tell Bush to try again when he grows up. I'm pretty sure they would have given Ficus a landslide victory.

Let's call a spade a spade: (4, Insightful)

jockeys (753885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786900)

and see that the only reason Sequoia is pissed off is that they either
a. are afraid that there are gaping security holes in their machines
b. KNOW that there are gaping security holes in their machines

all the privacy zealots will no doubt say that my "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to be afraid of" mentality is misguided, but let's take a step back and see what is on the line here. this is NOT about personal data, this is about objectively evaluating the security of a device that is going to be used in a VERY public fashion. do lamp makers threaten Underwriters Laboratories for wanting to make sure their device works as intended?

Re:Let's call a spade a spade: (4, Interesting)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787082)

I for one say we need to amend the patent and copyright acts to make devices used to voting unpatentable, and exempt from copyright, or barring that, that the certification process requires all rights to be signed over to the government. These machines by their very nature should be open to the most detailed scrutiny imaginable by anyone who feels so inclined. If the companies want to make money on them sell maintenance and manufacturing contracts, but there should be no way to claim trade secrets on anything used for voting.

Re:Let's call a spade a spade: (4, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787254)

Someone mod this guy up. I find it unconscionable that it is possible to patent or copyright something that is absolutely critical to the fundamental processes of democracy. Sequoia might as well demand that they be made Emperors of America.

Re:Let's call a spade a spade: (3, Informative)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787510)

I find it unconscionable that it is possible to patent or copyright something that is absolutely critical to the fundamental processes of democracy.

Also unconscionable is the notion that the underlaying software algorithm would essencially boil down to a very simple statement that looks something like the following:

vote++;

You could argue that there is some finesse involved in getting that data from the machine it was cast at to the central tallying point where it is counted and tabulated, but NOTHING in that process is any more complicated than the Automated Teller Machines which function in a similar way to take data from client nodes and send it up to the hub... so "prior art" in the realm of basic concepts of networking makes those patents unattainable.

Re:Let's call a spade a spade: (1)

bmw (115903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787456)

I for one say we need to amend the patent and copyright acts to make devices used to voting unpatentable, and exempt from copyright, or barring that, that the certification process requires all rights to be signed over to the government. These machines by their very nature should be open to the most detailed scrutiny imaginable by anyone who feels so inclined. If the companies want to make money on them sell maintenance and manufacturing contracts, but there should be no way to claim trade secrets on anything used for voting.
 
/signed

I wish I could use my last mod point to bump this past +5 :)

Re:Let's call a spade a spade: (1)

zrq (794138) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787100)

Yep. I agree.

If Sequoia have nothing to hide ... what are they afraid of ?

Re:Let's call a spade a spade: (4, Interesting)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787174)

Lamp manufacturers pay UL for the privelege of being certified. UL doesn't randomly grab equipment and force a cert upon it. The voting machine manufacturers should be more than interested in having third-party audits of their equipment ... unless they are either crap or corrupt. I suspect the former, but the latter isn't too far behind.

Regardless, I don't see how the manufacturer could impose restrictions on the equipment if it has been sold. Leased? Yeah, that'd come with a use restriction because title never was transferred.

Princeton? (1)

networkconsultant (1224452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786908)

Don't they have a really good law school?

Re:Princeton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22787152)

Don't they have a really good law school?
Princeton? Oh, yeah. Absolutely. One of the best in the country, and they produce my personal favorite kind of lawyer. In fact, the law school there is so good, no one who got a law degree there has ever lost a case. EVER !

Yes but... (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786910)

Sequoia seems to be claiming that no one can make a "report" regarding their "software" without their permission
Yes, but nothing is stopping Sequoia from being hung in the court of public opinion.

Re:Yes but... (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787070)

Yes, but nothing is stopping Sequoia from being hung in the court of public opinion.

Sure there is, apathy.

Re:Yes but... (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787114)

Yes, but nothing is stopping Sequoia from being hung in the court of public opinion.
And I hereby find the defendant guilty. Lets go hang them off the same tree we dumped Diebold on. Failure to present for inspection is an automatic failure on voter confidence, and a major red flag for corruption.

Please sue! Please sue! (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786924)

Please, please, Sequoia - suing over this is exactly the right course of action for you.

I also suggest that you try to get a judge to order ISPs to remove the DNS records for Princeton and the state of New Jersey, while you're at it.

Re:Please sue! Please sue! (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787190)

Please, please, Sequoia - suing over this is exactly the right course of action for you.
Nice. I see you want to invoke the Streisand effect of Sequoia. However, I don't think it will be effective, and here's why: it will give Sequoia negative publicity, but only here on slashdot. Also, even if it did spread to the masses, what do you think the masses would do? Anything? Heck, in the US, only half[1] of the eligible voters actually vote! If they don't care about presidency, why should one believe they would care about which company the state buys voting machines from?

However, I think Felten and Appel could influence some decision-makers by going to them personally and explain why third party review is a good thing and why they shouldn't put the engine of democracy into the hands of someone who prevents the governed people from understanding what is done with it. In particular, I believe that Felten would be well-equipped to do so, as he's got an understanding of both technology and public policy; also, he's a good speaker[2].

[1] http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html [infoplease.com]
[2] http://www.usenix.org/events/sec06/tech/mp3/felten.mp3 [usenix.org]

Re:Please sue! Please sue! (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787386)

"I think Felten and Appel could influence some decision-makers by going to them personally and explain why third party review is a good thing and why they shouldn't put the engine of democracy into the hands of someone who prevents the governed people from understanding what is done with it."

Nice. I see you want to invoke the obvious solution effect of common decency. However, I don't think it will be effective, and here's why: the decision makers are the ones who directly benefit from Sequoia being a bunch of corrupt hacks. It would be a wonderful thing if our political system were to actually operate in an open, fair manner, devoid of cronyism or corruption, but we've been complacent for so long that they've actually managed to enshrine such bad behaviors into law.

Ok, I RTFA, but still... (3, Interesting)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786928)

...have I got this straight?

Their voting machines are paid for by public dollars, used by the majority of the members of the public, to elect public officials, and they claim evaluation of their software cannot occur without their "permission"?

(Even my 9 year old nephew read this and thought it was "dumb")

Re:Ok, I RTFA, but still... (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787300)

The DMCA cripples reverse-engineering and software analysis. There was another "unified copyright" bill around the same time that forbid the review, or publication of any review, of software without the permission of the company selling it. Never heard if that made it into law. If it did, then yes, Felton's review would be illegal. If it didn't, but the review process would necessarily violate the DMCA, then it is also illegal.

Is this stupid? Yes. Is this hostile to the interests of Americans? Yes. Was it voted for by a Congressman you have re-elected since? That I don't know, obviously, but it's something you may want to check on before this election. If you're not planning onvoting for whoever is currently elected, you might also want to find out the views of the opponents, particularly if the region is tech-savvy enough (or even tech-phobic enough) to be suspicious of voting machines. The candidate you're looking at might enjoy playing around with Sequoia's attitude problem as a (minor, to them) campaign issue.

Re:Ok, I RTFA, but still... (3, Informative)

Sir.Cracked (140212) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787576)

The DMCA was passed in the House by voice vote, and the Senate by Unanimous Concent.

See the "Major Actions" section of this address
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d105:HR02281:@@@L&summ2=m& [loc.gov]

So, if your congresscritter was in office in 1998, you really have to assume he/she voted for it. I suppose you could troll the attendence logs for the day in question and see if they were absent, but I don't know how much that washes their hands. And potentialy, House reps may have voice voted against it, but it's unlikley.

So, Pretty much any Senator/Rep who's been in office for more than 10 years is responsible.

Re:Ok, I RTFA, but still... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787660)

You're thinking of UCITA [ucita.com] , which would have allowed the more execrable terms of EULAs to be enforced.

Currently UCITA has been enacted only in VA and MD.

Admission of insecurity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22786942)

Presumably if the machine were secure and suitable for purpose, sequoia would have no reason to object?

How else could this action be interpreted?

History lesson (5, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786958)

Mebbe they need a history lesson...

Anyone care to guess when the last armed revolt against government was here in the US and the reasons behind it?

Answer - Battle of Athens, Tenn. 1946. And it was over voting issues...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens [wikipedia.org]

Re:History lesson (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787590)

Anyone care to guess when the last armed revolt against government was here in the US and the reasons behind it?

The Weatherman movement [wikipedia.org] , being active in the late '60s and early '70s, is more recent. People know some about the militias that have cropped up however the Weathermen were more violent. Then there was the SLA, Symbionese Liberation Army [wikipedia.org] , which operated between '73 and '75.

Falcon

Only one answer (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786970)

There is only one answer to such a statement. Nothing else need be said. No negotiations.

No sale without a purchaser's complete and thorough evaluation.

felonious # FUDging all the rage nowadaze (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22786992)

banks, .gov, stock markup FraUD, all phony. doesn't leave much example of integrity for our kids, never mind the unrepayable bill for the endless fairytail 'partIE' 'put on' by the mammonite execrable. let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

"Really"? (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787010)

Sequoia seems to be claiming that no one can make a "report" regarding their "software" without their permission.

I "beg" to "differ".

"non compliant analysis"? (3, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787026)

"non compliant analysis"? whats the betting that the only compliant analysis gives it an A-OK rating.

thats like car salesperson attempting to sell you a car but only if you agree to take his word that it works and he'll sue anybody that you bring in to check the engine. if ever there was a warning bell not to buy their equipment that was it.

whats next? DMCA action against /. for this thread? absolute cobblers.

What a brilliant business model! (1)

garnetlion (786722) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787044)

That's a great idea, making a product no one is allowed to look too carefully at. I'm going to sell diamond rings and sue anyone who tries to find out or inform others that they're really cubic zirconia.

Reverse engineering (1)

drakyri (727902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787116)

The only problem I see here is that Sequoia could theoretically sue New Jersey over violating their agreement. Reverse engineering is legal so long as the item that's being analyzed was obtained legally ... so the professor should be fine.

IANAL, but, I think - regardless of the terms of the agreement, the voting machine was legally obtained - if they violated the agreement then that's a civil dispute, not a criminal one.

Re:Reverse engineering (3, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787350)

If anybody thinks this issue is about EULAs, they need to pull their head out of the sand.

This is about the future of democracy. These voting machine vendors are stripping transparency, security, and auditability out of our elections. None of us should give a damn what licensing agreement Sequoia wrote.

Voting versus Gambling (1, Flamebait)

spazoid12 (525450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787170)

It's really sad when the software controlling slot machines at the casino have (quite strict) legislated inspection and auditing than far exceeds what the software controlling voting machines is subjected to. :(

Let's be sure that nobody can steal a dollar; but if they can help a democrat steal an election... so be it.

Re:Voting versus Gambling (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787424)

Though i disagree with your theory on democrats "stealing" an election, this is otherwise a really good point. I never realized how much those two parallel eachother, but gambling machines are absolutely the best example you could bring up on an important established system that is regulated to ensure accuracy and all that. Most people care more about their money than they do about their vote (sadly), so brining up that point might help people see why we so badly need regulation on these, as well as demonstrate that it is entirely reasonable and plausible to expect that kind of auditing on such machines.

How could we have gotten so screwed up?
-Taylor

Re:Voting versus Gambling (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787432)

> but if they can help a democrat steal an election...

And what's your opinion if it's helping a republican steal an election?

Whatever response you give me, the words "a democrat" did not need to be in your post. Stealing an election is WRONG, whether it's a democrat or a republican. You took a very good post and diminished it with a bit of partisanship. I notice that you said "democrat" where usually the party affiliation is capitalized, so maybe you're scooting by on a technicality. But at that point we're parsing to the degree that we criticize politicians for.

Re:Voting versus Gambling (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787446)

Let's be sure that nobody can steal a dollar; but if they can help a democrat steal an election... so be it.
The sad thing is that very few people care.
I've actually had a friend tell me that he thought it was okay that people vote without knowing anything about any of the candidates because "its not THAT many votes, man"....

Voting seems like such an abstract, far-away thing to most people that it doesn't feel like it matters.

Slot machines, however, offer instant gratification (or loss of money). Its a more DIRECT, this-is-happening-to-me-right-now feeling.

Its a double-edged sword that it has become fashionable to hate the [current] government. While you've got more people out there talking about politics, very VERY few of them actually KNOW what they're talking about. All thats happened is somebody turned up the gain; now we have to deal with way more noise than signal. So while you would hope that this current trend would increase public awareness of this sort of thing, it doesn't.

Re:Voting versus Gambling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22787490)

fuck off. You must live in a really twisted world where Democrats are stealing all the elections.

Re:Voting versus Gambling (1)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787812)

At least in SC where we have electronic voting machines, we are still allowed to vote on any piece of paper. I did not take the time to look the story up but in Horry County during the primary someone voted by writing their vote on a matchbook and putting it in a ballot box. No matter how the vote is cast you have to assume that it is objectively counted by some third party. i guess the problem is that with machines coming from just a handful of companies that it is a lot easier for a few individuals to change the results of the election where with hand counting it takes a much larger group of individuals to change the results.

Update and more details on this (5, Informative)

MrAtoz (58719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787208)

It was Union County, NJ that was planning to send sample machines to Dr. Felten. They were threatened by Sequoia and have backed down from their plan as a result. The whole thing happened because several counties in NJ reported errors with the Sequoia machines in the February primary election. Sequoia reviewed these and just said that it was "user error" and not a problem. The counties understandably didn't find this an acceptable response, and Union County wanted to get an outside opinion. All the details can be found in this NJ Star-Ledger story [nj.com] .

In other news... (2, Funny)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787230)

Four mob families in conjunction with a number of street gangs is suing the US Department of Justice for restriction of trade.

Black (Ballot) Box Voting = Genius (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787244)

Anyone have a copy of the Licensing Agreement? How much do you want to bet that the Customer agrees not to hold Sequoia liable for any shortcomings in the product's performance, such as failing to tabulate votes correctly, or being vulnerable to manipulation?

Trivial Workaround (2, Interesting)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787324)

The State of New Jersey just needs to hire Professors Felten and Appel as consultants. Nothing in the so-called "established Sequoia licensing Agreement for use of the voting system" can prevent a State employee from accessing a State machine.

Re:Trivial Workaround (1)

Ioldanach (88584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787616)

Honestly that's actually a rather brilliant solution. Perhaps you should contact the county and mention it.

Sue me, Jerkoff! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22787346)

Hey Sequoia, here's my "report." Your software sucks. Your machine sucks. The lawyers who wrote and sent that letter are pathetic docuhebags guilty of abusing the legal system. Everyone that supports that lette ris guilty of trying to coerce and intimidate their way into a fat state contract. Your company's voting machine division; like so many other voting machine companies, is pile of sh*t a mile high, and you're trying to hide the stink with a pine scented car freshener.

Kindly cease and desist being *ssholes, and eat my Sph*ncter!

Intimidation? (1)

Icarium (1109647) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787372)

It seems telling that the letter was sent to the third party and not to the state - do they really expect the third party to care about the licencing agreement to which they are not bound?

Add in the vague wording and this looks purely like an attempt to intimidate the 'softer' of thier two targets, since they realise they probably can't take any meaningfull action against the state.

threat of suit (2, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787376)

IANAL but I am reasonably confident that Sequoia cannot successfully sue Felten. They may be able to sue New Jersey for breach of contract if in fact they have a contract with New Jersey that forbids such reviews. That may be the case - I believe that the license for MS Windows Server forbids reviews not approved by Microsoft. If there is such a contract, it would be interesting to see if it holds up in court. The "no review" provision is arguably void as being contrary to public policy.

Felten, however, has no contractual relationship with Sequoia and therefore cannot be in breach of contract. Sequoia therefore cannot sue him unless they can come up with another cause of action. Maybe, just maybe, they could sue him for disclosing trade secrets, if New Jersey has really nasty trade secret laws.

Re:threat of suit (1)

Mox-Dragon (87528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787584)

It seems like the significant thing here is that Sequoia can threaten to sue and not get laughed out of town. That the case has no merit should be patently obvious to any observer, legally competent or not. The real issue is, how did things get so fucked up that companies feel entitled to operating in such secrecy?

Open Source Secure Voting Application (2, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787494)

Well it has been several years of voting machine shenanigans, with each Slashdot topic resulting in posts saying that an open source solution is required.

So, has it been done yet?

Or is the problem one of it being rather impossible to create a completely secure voting application, however great the code is, however many security specialists have reviewed it?

If they don't have anything to hide... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22787512)

I see their threat as an implication of guilt. Sad for them but they're in no position to make such threats. There is something going on with these machines and we will get to the bottom of it.

Something like this would be a hangin' case not long ago...but they'll likely be granted immunity if the word ever gets out. As the telcom has shown us, aiding criminals is not a crime when the criminals are in the government.

My interpretation (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787534)

Disclaimer: I have not studied law. I'm not a lawyer. In particular I'm not your lawyer. This is not legal advice.

Let's have a look at what Sequoia is saying:

As you have likely read in the news media, certain New Jersey election officials have stated that they plan to send to you one or more Sequoia Advantage voting machines for analysis.
At least they got that one right :p

I want to make you aware that if the County does so, it violates their established Sequoia licensing Agreement for use of the voting system.
Emphasis added. It NJ who's bound by (and is or is not in breach of) the license, not Felten and Appel.

Sequoia has also retained counsel to stop any infringement of our intellectual properties, including any non-compliant analysis.
Presumably Felten and Appel have not agreed to the Sequoia licensing agreement, so they wouldn't be in breach of contract by analysing any software. Also, I predict they will have strong case arguing that their use of Sequoia software is Fair Use, of either the scholar or research variety.

We will also take appropriate steps to protect against any publication of Sequoia software, its behavior, reports regarding same or any other infringement of our intellectual property.
Any reports written by Sequoia will have the copyright belonging to Sequoia. Any report written by anyone else is copyrighted by that someone else. The only thing I can imagine that would change this is if the license agreement of the software stated that the copyrights of any such report written by not-Sequoia is automatically turned over to Sequoia.

No more reviews (1)

computrius (1153141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787640)

There it is. No-one is allowed to review software/hardware anymore unless its a good review and they have gotten permission from the software/hardware developer.

Disappointing (2, Informative)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787656)

This is just disappointing. I had Sequoia pegged as one of the good guys. When we selected them here in Nevada, they willingly submitted to every test, including review by the gaming board (who know a thing or two about fairness and anti-tampering in electronic devices - they have to certify all slot and video gaming machines). Sequoia passed the tests, including having a paper trail. That's not to say they're perfect or infallible, but they sure seemed cooperative and focused in the right direction.

This just doesn't fit with their actions back then. Has there been a change in management?

Re:Disappointing (1)

KnightNavro (585943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787842)

As long as Nevada hasn't changed the voting machines since I moved in 2004, they still have the best electronic voting system in the nation. Damned by faint praise, I know, but at least there's a verifiable paper trail.

your self-righteous optimism (1)

Essron (231281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787688)

is premature. what do you think scalia and thomas would think about this? the legal system is a red tape delay at best. legislation has to come from the states, because the fed level, both dem and repub, are complicit in letting these machines be shady in an uncountable number of ways. im sure the manufacturer would love to go to court to make this seem even more complicated and unnecessary to the layman, and they also wouldn't mind getting to a federal level bush appointee a la gonzo.

i wish i was an optimist, instead i am merely self-righteous.

Parsing this out (2)

KnightNavro (585943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787796)

Sequoia isn't saying they think the professors will be stealing intellectual property. They are saying that if New Jersey lets the professors test the software, NJ is breaking the terms of the software license. In short, NJ signed the license agreement, which presumably says that NJ can't give the voting machines to outside testers for evaluation and reporting. It's software as a licensed service and not as property, which is also a heap of bovine excrement. What should be happening is states putting a line in the request for proposals saying something along the lines of "All proposed systems that prohibit independent testing and evaluation will not be considered by STATE," only in legalese.

Re:Parsing this out (1)

BardBollocks (1231500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787932)

if the machines are in decent shape why are they threatening to sue independent experts who can check for themselves? What we REALLY have going on here is an attempt to prevent discovery of the mechanisms used to rig elections.

Deeper background (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787914)

I'm not familiar with the situation, but Brad [bradblog.com] came to the rescue. Apparently, these machines screwed up [nj.com] during another vote. As you read the rest, it seems to be a total train wreck ... perhaps the state can sue?
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