September 19, 2017

Archives for November 2003

California to Require E-Voting Paper Trail

California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley will announce today that as of 2006, all e-voting machines in the state must provide a voter-verifiable paper trail, according to an L.A. Times story by Allison Hoffman and Tim Reiterman.

This is yet another sign that the push for sensible e-voting safeguards is gaining momentum.

[Link credit: Siva Vaidhyanathan at Sivacracy.net.]

Princeton Ignores Strauss, Makes Sensible Decisions

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) here at Princeton has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement distancing itself from the views expressed by one of its employees, Howard Strauss, in a column in Syllabus magazine.

(OIT operates the campus network and other shared computing facilities. It is not to be confused with the Computer Science Department, which is the main site of information technology teaching and research at Princeton.)

Mr. Strauss’s column, which really has to be read to be believed, likens open source products to fraudulent Nigerian spam emails.

Fortunately the grownups in charge at OIT responded by reiterating the university’s non-Straussian procurement policy, which is based not on a rigid pro- or anti-open source rule but instead involves – listen carefully, ’cause this might be hard to follow – looking at all of the available products and choosing the best one for the job.

CDT Report on Spyware

The Center for Democracy and Technology has issued a sensible and accessible paper about the spyware problem and associated policy issues.

Spyware is software, installed on your computer without your consent, that gathers information about what you do on your computer. It’s shockingly common – if you are a typical active web surfer using Internet Explorer in its default configuration, and you haven’t been taking specific steps to protect yourself against spyware, then you probably have several spyware programs on your computer right now.

CDT recommends that end users protect themselves by using anti-spyware tools such as AdAware, Spybot Search and Destroy, Spyware Eliminator, or BPS Spyware/Adware Remover. (I have had good luck with Spybot Search and Destroy.)

At the policy level, CDT is lukewarm about attempts to ban spyware specifically, because of the difficult line-drawing exercise involved in distinguishing spyware from certain types of legitimate programs. They argue instead for policies that address the underlying problems: installation without consent, and surreptitious monitoring of user behavior.

Kudos to CDT for advancing the policy discussion on this often overlooked issue.