Sequoia won’t let people test their voting machines

Sequoia Voting Systems logoEd Felten has built a reputation as someone good at finding problems with machines.  New Jersey election officials wanted him to test one of the Sequoia voting machines before the election to see if there are any problems with it.  Given the wide array of problems with voting machines in the recent past, this seems like a wise move.

Sequoia doesn’t like it.  In a letter to Professor Felton, they say:

 …certain New Jersey election officials have stated that they plan to send to you one or more Sequoia Advantage voting machines for analysis. 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. Sequoia has also retained counsel to stop any infringement of our intellectual properties, including any non-compliant analysis. 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.

If I was an election official in New Jersey, I would drop those machines as quickly as I could.  They’ve gone from possibly having a security hole discovered (or maybe coming out clean), to looking like a company with a big problem to hide.

Lawsuit against Wikileaks dropped

WikileaksBank Julius Baer, the Swiss firm that sued Wikileaks last week and had their site taken offline, has dropped their lawsuit.

Techdirt has the details, where they add that this is “One more lesson for overly aggressive lawyers to think about the consequences of certain actions, rather than just launching lawsuits because they can.”

I agree completely.

Wikileaks

WikileaksIn an efforts to showcase some illegal activity (tax evasion and money laundering) at Swiss bank, the Wikileaks site posted some information about some of the bank’s clients.The Bank Julius Baer fought back and successfully convinced a San Francisco judge to have the site taken down, which succeeded. As is the case with other Streisand Effect situations, the information exploded all over the internet.

An AP article quotes Mike Masnick, who coined the phrase “Streisand Effect”, as saying:

It’s a perfect example of the Streisand Effect. This was a really small thing that no one heard about and now it’s everywhere and everyone’s talking about it.

I agree completely.  I’m amazed that companies still haven’t figured out that this always backfires on them.

DeCSS

DeCSS is a program that is able to decrypt a DVD that had been encrypted using CSS (Content Scrambling System).

The program was first released in October of 1999 and was similar to the later HD-DVD controversy as it provided a way for people to bypass the copy protection on a DVD>

The DCMA lawsuits that followed caused the software to become more popular and more sophisticated.

MediaDefender

As posted on SlashDot:

“It looks like MediaDefender, in an effort to quell the explosion of negative publicity over its leaked email archive, has instead done the opposite and spread it even more widely. Ars Technica is reporting that MediaDefender has sent scary-lawyer letters to two popular BitTorrent sites, MegaNova and IsoHunt, demanding that they remove the offending content. Both sites have responded with derision. Also, Ars notes that MediaDefender seems to be behind a DDoS attack against the site that originally leaked its email.”

Final word to Ars’s Ryan Paul: “MediaDefender’s entire business model has been based on recognition of the inescapable fact that litigation cannot stop the spread of content on the Internet, so it is ironic that the company has turned to legal threats.”

iPhone Skins

iPhoneWhen the iPhone was first unveiled in January, 2007, many people were very impressed with the slick look of the interface. As a result, a number of people starting making iPhone skins for smartphones (to make their phone look like an iPhone).

Apple attacked them legally, then took it a step further – they went after bloggers that simply reported on the skins.

As The Age says: “Ironically, Apple’s attempts to have the files removed from the web has only given the skins greater publicity, and they have already begun spreading to other websites.”

HD-DVD

HD-DVD LOLCATHD-DVDs are protected using a system known as AACS. In order for someone to bypass AACS and make a copy of a disc, a 16 digit hexidecimal code must be first known.

When the code was first discovered, it was posted on Digg. It was quickly removed by the Digg staff, which very quickly caused a huge revolt. Users posted the number hundreds of times on Digg, while the Digg staff kept trying to delete those entries as quickly as they could.

As a result of them trying to keep the number quiet, it became huge. As of right now there are 857,000 pages in Google with the number, along with a few domain names and even a song about it.

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

FedEx

FedEx FurnitureA guy with no money started making furniture out of FedEx boxes, all of which were given away for free and obtained legally. FedEx decided to go after him.

They weren’t concerned about the use of the boxes, but the fact that he posted photos of his new furniture.

Just to make sure we knew FedEx was inept, they also added that they knew he intended to make money from his website because he used the .com TLD rather than another.

Diebold

DieboldIn the spring of 2003, 15,000 internal e-mails from Diebold were leaked onto the internet.  The e-mails largely showed the concern that the company had over the security of their own voting machines.

Abusing the power of the DMCA, Diebold sent cease-and-desist letters to every site that had posted the e-mails.  Two college students, Nelson Pavlosky and Luke Smith of Swarthmore College, knew better.  They knew that Diebold was not within their rights to demand that the information be removed, so they sued Diebold for abusing copyright law.

The suit drew a ton of media attention and a few days later Diebold announced that they would not try to stop anyone else from publishing the messages.

Cisco Systems

Michael LynnInternet Security Systems research analyst Michael Lynn was scheduled to speak at the 2005 Black Hat conference about a flaw in Cisco’s routers that was a major security threat.

Just before he was to speak, Cisco threatened him with legal action and his company decided not to give the presentation.

He promptly quit his job and presented the information anyhow. This move earned him a job with one of Cisco’s competitors as well as much respect from his peers.