June 30, 2004

EFF Announces Ten Most-Wanted Patents

Targets Will Be Busted for "Crimes Against the Public Domain"

San Francisco - Start forming your patent-busting posses! Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Patent Busting Project announced which patents the organization will target first in its campaign to rid the world of frivolous patent infringement lawsuits. After sifting through dozens of software and Internet-related patents submitted to its patent busting contest, EFF targeted ten whose crimes have made them enemies of the public domain. All the most-wanted patents are dangerously overbroad; many pose a threat to freedom of expression online. And every single one of the targeted patents is held by an entity that has threatened or brought lawsuits against small businesses, individuals, or nonprofits.

Target number one is Acacia, a company that has litigated relentlessly against small businesses to enforce patents that it claims cover a broad array of technologies used to send and receive streaming media online. Victims of Acacia's legal threats include websites that host home videos and several "mom-and-pop" adult media companies.

Other offenders include Acceris, which claims that its patents cover any technologies (such as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) that allow people to make phone calls over the Internet, and ClearChannel, which has been threatening artists and small CD companies that record live concerts and burn them to CDs for fans at the end of a show. Another target is Test.com, which has a patent on a method for taking and scoring tests online, and has been sending threatening letters to universities with distance learning programs.

"Patents are meant to protect companies against giant competitors, not to help them prey on folks who can barely afford a lawyer," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, who leads the Patent Busting Project. "We hope our project will not only assist the victims of these abusive patents but also help make the case for global reform of the patent system."

With its targets in sight, EFF's team of lawyers, technologists, and experts will now begin to research and collect prior art. Prior art is hard evidence that a patent is "obvious" because it is based on a commonly known idea or because the claimed "invention" actually existed before the patent was filed. Once the team has gathered enough prior art on a given patent, EFF will submit a petition to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a legal process known as "reexamination." If the USPTO finds the prior art compelling, it will formally revoke the patent and release the idea back into the public domain, where it belongs.

Ten "most wanted" patents.

Contacts:

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org

Annalee Newitz
Media Coordinator/Policy Analyst
Electronic Frontier Foundation
annalee@eff.org

Posted at 10:27 AM


June 29, 2004

Online Privacy "Eviscerated" by First Circuit Decision

The First Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a grave blow to the privacy of Internet communications with its decision today in the case of U.S. v. Councilman. The court held that it was not a violation of criminal wiretap laws for the provider of an email service to monitor the content of users' incoming messages without their consent. The defendant in the case is a seller of rare and used books who offered email service to customers. The defendant had configured the mail processing software so that all incoming email sent from Amazon.com, the defendant's competitor, was copied and sent to the defendant's mailbox as well as to the intended recipient's. As the court itself admitted, "it may well be that the protections of the Wiretap Act have been eviscerated as technology advances."

"By interpreting the Wiretap Act's privacy protections very narrowly, this court has effectively given Internet communications providers free rein to invade the privacy of their users for any reason and at any time," says Kevin Bankston, EFF attorney and Equal Justice Works fellow. "This decision makes clear that the law has failed to adapt to the realities of Internet communications and must be updated to protect online privacy."

Decision in U.S. v. Councilman (PDF file).

Posted at 04:43 PM

EFF Declares Supreme Court COPA Decision a Win

EFF applauds today's Supreme Court decision to uphold a preliminary injunction that restricts the government from enacting the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The law, which was passed in 1998, criminalizes sexual expression on the Internet that could be deemed "harmful to minors" by a reasonable person using contemporary community standards. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion, emphasizing that the government failed to demonstrate that COPA is not the "least restrictive" method for protecting children online. He explained that filtering and blocking software are examples of less restrictive ways to regulate minors' access to harmful material.

EFF attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Kevin Bankston said, "The Supreme Court rightly recognized that there are ways of protecting our children from harmful material on the Internet that are much less restrictive and less damaging to First Amendment principles than COPA."

Added EFF Policy Analyst Annalee Newitz, "We are pleased that Justice Kennedy's opinion recommended solutions that would give people the choice to block harmful content on their home PCs, rather than chilling free speech at its source by threatening Internet speakers with criminal prosecution." Justice Kennedy wrote that COPA's criminal penalties, which include steep fines and even imprisonment, are a potentially "repressive force" in a free society.

The Supreme Court decision sends COPA back to the District Court for full trial.

Posted at 02:23 PM


June 24, 2004

Will the Inducing Infringement Act Kill the iPod?

EFF Attorneys Play Devil's Advocates, Post Mock Inducement Complaint against Apple

San Francisco - With Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and his colleagues pushing hard to bring the Inducing Infringement of Copyright Act ("Induce Act") to the full Senate for a vote, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is already dreading the loss of all technologies this legislation has the potential to destroy. Although Hatch wants the public to believe that the legislation will only hurt "the bad guys" in the P2P wars, EFF argues that the Act is so sweeping that "the good guys" will get taken down too. The Induce Act, which would make it illegal to "induce" people to infringe copyright, could potentially outlaw everything from CD burners to the iPod.

To dramatize how the Induce Act might harm innovators and consumers, EFF attorneys realized they would have to make the threat a reality by becoming devil's advocates. Today, EFF posted a mock complaint in a lawsuit that could be brought against Apple, accusing the corporation of selling its popular iPod music player to induce people to infringe copyright.

The complaint, which mimics the format of an actual complaint that record companies might draft, points out that "Apple advertises that its 40 GB iPod can hold 'up to 10,000 songs.' This amount of capacity far exceeds the total CD collection of the vast majority of Americans. This suggests that Apple knew and intended that iPod owners would be getting their music from elsewhere, including P2P networks." The complaint also named Toshiba as a defendant for manufacturing the hard drive used exclusively by Apple for its iPod and CNET Networks for writing a review of the iPod that instructs users on how to copy music files between computers.

Because the Induce Act defines "intent" as being "determined by a reasonable person taking into account all relevant facts," it's unlikely that a technology company like Apple would be able to easily dismiss any lawsuit brought against it. It would face the prospect of an expensive trial, with all the attendant legal fees and negative publicity. One such company, SonicBlue, recently fought against a group of copyright holders in court over its ReplayTV and spent close to $1,000,000 per month in legal fees alone. In essence, this means that copyright owners can use the "inducement" theory to inflict an arbitrarily large penalty on any tech company that builds a device they don't like. That's not a pleasant possibility for an innovator to face as he or she tries to launch a new product.

EFF hopes that its mock complaint, brought by a hypothetical "group of major recording labels" against Apple, will raise awareness about how the Induce Act will destroy incentives to innovate. "We knew we could draft a legal complaint against any number of the major computer or electronics manufacturers for the everyday devices we all know and love, like CD burners and MP3 players," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "We picked Apple as our mock target because one could argue it's 'reasonable to know' that having an iPod enhances the lure of using P2P to download music."

"We don't mean to single out Apple, Toshiba or CNET," said Cindy Cohn, EFF's legal director. "If the Induce Act passed, a similar lawsuit could easily be imagined against Hewlett-Packard for selling PCs equipped with CD burners or against cell phone manufacturers who allow users to swap ringtones."

EFF Action Alert on Inducing Infringement Act

Contacts:

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x112

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x108

Posted at 02:27 PM


June 23, 2004

Electronic Frontier Foundation Partners with No Starch Press

Civil Liberties Group and Technical Publisher Work Toward a Common Goal


San Francisco - No Starch Press has announced a partnership with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in which the progressive technical publisher will donate a percentage of its sales to EFF.

When customers purchase books from a special area on the publisher's website, No Starch will donate 30% of the purchase price to EFF. No Starch published EFF client Andrew "bunnie" Huang's Hacking the Xbox last year and is dedicated to providing the public with information about open source software and network exploration.

No Starch Press Founder Bill Pollock said, " I am so pleased to be supporting EFF, an organization I greatly admire. Whether fighting to protect our rights to remain anonymous, or fighting against wrongheaded acts like the DMCA or the USA Patriot Act, EFF is the one organization watching our backs."

EFF recently entered into similar partnerships with 321 Studios and Slim Devices. "EFF is proud do have the support of these innovative companies," lauded EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "It's important to see creative companies understand that technology can and should be freedom enhancing." More and more, especially in the world of intellectual property, it has become increasingly difficult for companies to simply create technology without paying attention to the legal framework in which their products will be released. Increasingly, innovative companies face legal challenges from over-zealous intellectual property holders, which block the development of new products and the publication of technical books that the public wants. As a defender of free speech in the digital world, EFF is is a natural partner for these companies.

Contacts:

Kevin McLaughlin
Membership Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kevin@eff.org

Leigh Sacks
Marketing Coordinator
No Starch Press
leigh@nostarch.com

Posted at 03:39 PM

Personal Technology Freedom Coalition Created

Industry, Academic, Public Interest Groups Support Bill To Improve Consumer Rights and Protect Technological Innovation

A broad group of organizations and companies representing diverse sectors of the U.S. economy has come together to form a new organization, the Personal Technology Freedom Coalition.

With members ranging from the telephone industry to high-tech firms, libraries, universities and the public-interest sector, the Coalition is committed to repairing recent damage dealt to the Founders' original commitment to balanced copyright protection. Specifically, the Coalition will press for consumer protections in the use of digital music and movies, including working to ensure that consumers can legally use and have access to digital content they have purchased.

The group supports the right of inventors to improve upon technologies already on the market, in particular the right of researchers to protect the nation from the threat of cyber terror. Members also support parents’ rights to use modern filtering technologies to protect their children from inappropriate materials in the privacy of their own homes.

The group strongly supports the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act (H.R. 107), legislation introduced by Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and John Doolittle, R-Calif.

The Coalition upholds the following principles:

• Freedom. The Constitution gives us the freedom to enjoy and make many uses of books, music and other materials without permission of others... From these uses come new works that benefit us all.

• Fairness. The big media companies want to control every aspect of how we use digital music and video. That’s not fair. The Constitution demands respect for users’ rights.

• Innovation. New technologies cannot develop unless engineers can study what has already been written or invented. By limiting the examination of products now, we limit what will be produced later.

• CyberSecurity. Anti-terror efforts depend on secure computer networks. We will never be secure if researchers cannot test those networks for flaws in the first place.

Below is a list of the coalition members, as of June 22, 2004:


American Association of Law Libraries
American Foundation for the Blind
American Library Association
Association of American Universities
Association of Research Libraries
BellSouth
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Consumer Electronics Association
Consumers Union
Digital Future Coalition
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Gateway
Home Recording Rights Coalition
Intel Corp.
Medical Library Association
National Writers Union
Open Source and Industry Alliance
Philips Consumer Electronics North America
Public Knowledge
Qwest
SBC
Special Libraries Association
Sun Microsystems
Telecommunications Industry Association
United States Student Association
United States Telecom Association
Verizon

Contacts:

Art Brodsky
Public Knowledge
202-518-0020
abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

Jeff Joseph
Consumer Electronics Association
703-907-7664
jjoseph@ce.org


Posted at 02:59 PM


June 16, 2004

RIAA Asks FCC to Lock Down Digital Radio Broadcasts

EFF, Brennan Center Argue Against Restrictions on Future Technologies

San Francisco, CA and New York, NY - If the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) gets its way, consumers will not be permitted to listen to digital radio broadcasts unless they use an industry-approved device. The RIAA is particularly hostile to any TiVo-like recording device for digital radio. Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Brennan Center for Justice filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in an attempt to stop the RIAA's plan to regulate digital radio technologies of the future.

In a letter to the FCC, the RIAA argued that the commission should force broadcasters to encrypt their digital radio signals so that only approved devices can descramble and play digital broadcasts. This is only the latest chapter in a decades-long campaign by the RIAA to stop home recording of radio broadcasts. But as EFF and the Brennan Center point out in their comments, it is perfectly legal for people to make home recordings of radio broadcasts under current copyright laws.In essence, the RIAA is urging the FCC to override home recording rights guaranteed to the public by copyright law.

Marjorie Heins, founder of the Brennan Center's Free Expression Policy Project, said, "Having failed in their congressional efforts to restrict home taping, the recording industry is now asking the FCC to go beyond copyright law to interfere with the public's right to make recordings of radio broadcasts for home use. This would be a perversion of the FCC's role, and home recording poses no threat to corporate copyright interests that could conceivably justify it."

"The RIAA is trying to halt the development of next-generation digital technologies, like a Tivo for radio -- technologies that are perfectly legal under copyright law," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "This is about restricting personal home taping off the radio, something that Congress has said is legal and that millions of Americans have been doing for decades."

The EFF/Brennan Center comments .

Contacts:

Natalia Kennedy
Media Relations Manager
Brennan Center for Justice
natalia.kennedy@nyu.edu

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
fred@eff.org

Posted at 03:42 PM


June 15, 2004

Court Rules DirecTV Must Prove More than Possession

Based on arguments made by civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and attorney Albert Zakarian for defendant Mike Treworgy, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that DirecTV cannot sue individuals for "mere possession" of technology that is capable of intercepting DirecTV's satellite signal. "We're glad to see the court apply common sense to this issue," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Merely possessing a device doesn't harm anyone and shouldn't give a company like DirecTV the right to drag you into court without proof that you're actually stealing something from them."

EFF filed an amicus brief in the appeal and maintains further information about the DirecTV legal campaign on the DirecTV Defense website. Defendant Treworgy was represented by Florida attorney Albert Zakarian.

Posted at 10:41 AM


June 14, 2004

DirecTV to Narrow Anti-Piracy Campaign

Satellite TV Giant Will No Longer Prosecute Users for Mere Possession

San Francisco and Palo Alto, CA – After discussions with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Center for Internet and Society (CIS) Cyberlaw Clinic, satellite television giant DirecTV has agreed to modify its nationwide campaign against signal piracy in order to reduce threats and lawsuits against innocent users of smart card technology. Chief among these changes is a promise to no longer sue or threaten to sue people merely for possessing smart card devices.

“American innovators and hobbyists shouldn’t have to fear legal action merely for possessing new technologies that have many legitimate uses,” said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. “We’re also pleased that DirecTV has agreed to stop targeting general purpose devices in its campaign and will investigate all substantive claims of innocence.”

Over the past few years, DirecTV has orchestrated a nationwide legal campaign against hundreds of thousands of individuals, claiming that they were illegally intercepting its satellite TV signal. The company began its crusade by raiding smart card device distributors to obtain their customer lists, then sent over 170,000 demand letters to customers and eventually filed more than 24,000 federal lawsuits against them. Because DirecTV made little effort to distinguish legal uses of smart card technology from illegal ones, EFF and the CIS Cyberlaw Clinic received hundreds of calls and emails from panicked device purchasers.

In August 2003, EFF and CIS created the DirecTV Defense website to provide innocent users and their lawyers with the information necessary to defend themselves. The organizations also began a series of discussions with DirecTV about ways to reform its anti-piracy tactics and protect innocent consumers.

As a result, DirecTV has agreed to make several changes to its campaign. The company will no longer pursue people solely for purchasing smart card readers, writers, general-purpose programmers, and general-purpose emulators. It will maintain this policy into the forseeable future and file lawsuits only against people it suspects of actually pirating its satellite signal. DirecTV will, however, continue to investigate purchasers of devices that are often primarily designed for satellite signal interception, nicknamed “bootloaders” and “unloopers.”

DirecTV also agreed to change its pre-lawsuit demand letters to explain in detail how innocent recipients can get DirecTV to drop their cases. The company also promised that it will investigate every substantive claim of innocence it receives. If purchasers provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that they did not use their devices for signal theft, DirecTV will dismiss their cases. EFF and CIS will monitor reports of this process to confirm that innocent device purchasers are having their cases dismissed.

“While EFF still disagrees with DirecTV over other aspects of its campaign, we’re pleased that we could find mutual ground on these issues,” said CIS Executive Director Jennifer Granick, who represented EFF in the negotiations. "We hope to continue working with DirecTV to resolve the remaining disputes so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of smart card technology."

Smart card readers and their various derivatives have many legitimate uses, including computer security and scientific research.


Contact:

Jennifer Granick
Clinical Director
Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society
jennifer@granick.com
+1 650 724-0014

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x112

Posted at 04:14 PM


June 10, 2004

Being a Webmaster for Controversial Islamic Websites Not a Crime

Idaho Student Acquitted of Terrorism Charges

In a victory for the First Amendment rights of Internet users, jurors returned a verdict today acquitting University of Idaho graduate student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen of terrorism charges. Hussayen had been charged in federal court with providing "material support" to terrorists in the form of "expert advice and assistance," based on his activities as webmaster for a number of web sites and message boards serving Muslims. This same law, which was expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act, has already been found unconstitutional by one federal court.

"Providing a forum for Internet speakers -- especially those with controversial political or religious views -- is a service to the First Amendment, not a crime," says EFF attorney and Equal Justice Works fellow Kevin Bankston. "Hopefully, the jury's acquittal in this case will convince the Department of Justice to think twice before it again tries to prosecute someone for exercising his right to free speech."

Contact:

Kevin Bankston
Attorney, Equal Justice Works / Bruce J. Ennis Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x126

Posted at 02:13 PM

EFF Asks Public to Identify Bad Patents in Patent Busting Contest

Organization Seeking Ten Patents to Challenge

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is calling on the public to help identify patents that are having negative effects on Internet innovation and free expression. As part of EFF's Patent Busting Project, EFF seeks nominations for the ten worst offenders in the world of intellectual property. Winners will become the first targets for the project's team of attorneys, technologists and experts, who will file "re-examination" requests with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), asking the agency to revoke the patents.

EFF staff attorney Jason Schultz, who heads the project, said he can't wait to see what the contest turns up. "We have seen illegitimate patents asserted on such simple technologies as one-click online shopping, video streaming, and paying with credit cards online. When individuals and small businesses are faced with million-dollar legal demands, they have no choice but to capitulate and pay license fees. We aim to change that."

To qualify for the contest, a bad patent has to be more than just stupid and invalid. It must be issued in the United States and be software or Internet-related. Also, the patent owner must be actively threatening or suing people for licensing fees. Contest judges are particularly interested in patents for technologies that enable free expression, such as streaming video, blogging tools, and voice over IP (VoIP). "Patent owners who claim control over communication tools can threaten anyone who uses them, even for personal or non-commercial purposes," explained Schultz. "Overreaching patent claims unfairly reduce the tremendous benefits that software and technology bring to freedom of expression."

The contest opens today and closes on June 23. Winners will be announced on June 30.

Check out the Patent Busting Contest.

Contact:

Jason Schultz
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x112

Posted at 02:05 PM


June 08, 2004

Pro-Consumer Privacy Bill Gets a Hearing

EFF Backs California Senate Bill Protecting Anonymous Speech Online

San Francisco and Berkeley, CA - Your employer just laid off 300 of your colleagues without notice and without severance pay. So you go online and post an angry, anonymous comment about it on a Yahoo! message board. Although you could lose your job if your boss discovered what you’ve said, you feel safe because nobody who reads the comment knows who you are. Plus, your right to engage in anonymous free speech is protected under the First Amendment, right? Wrong.

In California, it is currently legal for anyone to subpoena personal information from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) without any court oversight – and without notifying you. That means you have no chance to protect your anonymity or secure legal representation before the person requesting the subpoena figures out who you are and takes action against you. Your boss could read that anonymous comment, subpoena your ISP to get your name, and fire you the next day.

Over the past few years, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other organizations have defended dozens of individuals whose identities have been sought after they criticized corporations or other people online. Nearly all of the cases are dropped once opposition begins, indicating that the lawsuits are aimed at silencing criticism and identifying critics, rather than addressing legitimate legal claims.

To remedy this problem, California Assembly Member Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is sponsoring Assembly Bill 1143, the Internet Communications Protection Act (ICPA). The bill protects anonymous speakers on the Internet by requiring service providers to notify them before handing over personal information that’s been subpoenaed. This information could include addresses, phone numbers, and any other private details a person provided to enable him or her to get Internet connectivity. Once a user is notified and given the basic information about the claims, he or she is given a window of time to respond and thus gain the opportunity to secure legal representation to contest the validity of the subpoena and protect personal information.

AB 1433 is backed by EFF, which is represented by the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley’s School of Law. It also has the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, the California Anti-SLAPP project and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Cindy Cohn, Legal Director of EFF, said, “This act ensures that you have a reasonable opportunity to protect your own privacy. It levels the playing field by giving you the time and information you need to defend yourself if the claim against you is invalid, while preserving the right of those who have legitimate claims to find out who has harmed them.” Assemblyman Simitian added, “Internet users deserve to have their privacy and their anonymity protected. And they deserve due process in defending themselves against frivolous lawsuits.”

In addition, ICPA eases the burden placed on service providers by allowing them to bill subpoenaing parties for the costs of notifying users about their subpoenas. It also allows people to subpoena information without notification in emergency cases.

The hearing for the bill is tentatively set for June 15. Cohn and other supporters will be lobbying for it in Sacramento on June 9.

EFF Action Alert: http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2914

Contact:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x108 (office), +1 415 307-2148 (cell)

Deirdre Mulligan
Director
Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic
dmulligan@law.berkeley.edu
+1 510 642-0499


About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/

About Samuelson Law Clinic

The Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall), represents individuals and non-profits on privacy, copyright and First Amendment issues relating to the Internet and other advanced technology. More information about the Samuelson Clinic can be found online at http://samuelsonclinic.org.

Posted at 06:36 PM


June 02, 2004

Maryland Election Officials Under Fire From Voters

EFF Files Brief in Case Challenging the Use of Insecure Diebold E-Voting Machines

Maryland - EFF has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Maryland case that challenges the integrity of that state's electronic voting machines, which are manufactured by the troubled electronic voting machine company, Diebold Election Systems. EFF presented evidence of problems with electronic voting machines from more than 18 elections nationwide in the past few years, including the 2002 gubernatorial election and March 2004 primaries in Maryland. The evidence includes reports of lost votes, votes registering for the wrong candidate, and voters turned away from the polls using both Diebold and other electronic voting systems.

In addition, the California Secretary of State found that Diebold illegally installed uncertified software onto voting machines in 17 counties and referred the matter to the California Attorney General's office for potential criminal prosecution. EFF's brief also provides information on the growing number of technologies that can offer secure voting as well as accessibility for people with manual and visual disabilities.

In Schade v. the Maryland State Board of Elections, the plaintiffs are a group of concerned Maryland voters who ask that the state of Maryland address widely publicized security and reliability concerns with the Diebold machines and implement a voter verified paper ballot as required by state and federal law. In the short term, the voters are seeking an injunction that would require the state to either take steps to remedy these concerns before the November 2004 elections or follow California's lead in decertifying the machines altogether. The interim steps the lawsuit asks the state to take include implementing the same 23 basic security standards that California is now implementing, and offering Maryland voters the alternative of a paper ballot if they do not wish to have their vote counted by the Diebold machines.

Several independent researchers, including two teams hired by Maryland state officials, have demonstrated that the machines the state of Maryland intends to use in the upcoming November elections have a long list of problems and are vulnerable to vote tampering. One state-paid researcher noted that the results of an election could be altered by "an 8th grader." Most importantly, the Diebold machines used in Maryland provide no voter verified audit capacity, meaning that there is no reliable way to conduct a recount to ensure that the systems have not been tampered with or are malfunctioning.

EFF is joined by several other groups who support the plaintiffs in this case. Other signatories to the brief are Verified Voting and VotersUnite!, two grassroots voter organizations. Christopher M. Loveland of the firm of Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard, PC, is local counsel in the case.

Contact:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org
+1 415 436-9333 x108 (office), +1 415 307-2148 (cell)

Brief

Exhibits available here.

EFF's e-voting pages

VerifiedVoting.org's litigation archive for Schade v. Maryland State Board of Elections

Posted at 03:00 PM