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Diebold Agrees Not to Sue Over Leaked Documents

A major supplier of touch-screen voting machines has agreed not to sue activists and others who posted leaked documents on the Internet about alleged security shortcomings surrounding electronic voting (search).

Diebold Inc (search). made the promise in a conference call Monday with a federal judge and attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (search), a group concerned about civil liberties in digital technology.

Diebold said it would not sue dozens of students, computer scientists and Internet service providers who had received cease-and-desist letters from the company from August to October.

Diebold also promised not to sue two Swarthmore College students and a San Francisco-based service provider for copyright infringement, according to a motion filed by company attorneys Nov. 24 in San Jose federal court.

The North Canton, Ohio-based Diebold, which has sold and continues to oversee more than 50,000 touch-screen voting machines nationwide, said it will continue to monitor the online proliferation of the leaked documents, and may sue others who publish the data.

"This is a huge victory that shows we have weapons on our side to protect free speech from overbearing copyright laws so that the Internet remains a forum for public discussion," said foundation staff attorney Wendy Seltzer.

A hacker broke into Diebold's servers in March. In one series of e-mails, a senior engineer dismissed concern from a lower-level programmer that Diebold lacked certification for the operating system in touch-screen voting machines. The Federal Election Commission requires such software to be certified by independent researchers.

In another e-mail, an executive scolded programmers for leaving software files on an Internet site without password protection.