The Devolution of Voting Technology

elections, certification/testing, reform, standards, politics, problems, litigation, friends, research, policy, legal

ABA Annual Meeting 2008 logo If you're in NYC on Friday, come see me (and others) speak at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting.

I'll be talking about types of voting technology, the recent CA TTBR and EVEREST reviews and implications for the 2008 elections (slides are here). This will be part of a panel entitled, "The Devolution of Voting Technology: From Pen and Paper to Touch Screens and Back Again?" with Jack Feeney, Jacquelynne Harris and Candace Hoke.

Here's the deets:

The Devolution of Voting Technology: From Pen and Paper to Touch Screens and Back Again?

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Election Law presents a free CLE program...

Friday, August 8, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Conference Room I, Executive Conference Level
Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers


  • John C. Keeney, Jr., Washington, DC (Moderator)
  • Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Berkeley, California
  • Jacquelynne Harris, Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Professor S. Candice Hoke, Cleveland, Ohio

Additional Sponsors: Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, Section of Science and Technology Law, Section of State and Local Government Law, Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice

Crap on Craigslist

open source

(Some of this stuff appears attractive, so make an offer quick... I'll decide tomorrow. -JLH)

  • Road Bike, Hit by Car, Probably good for parts, Free OBO

  • d Novara Mountain Bike, Free OBO
  • Two Road Wheels, used for racing, Free OBO

  • ge Metal Filing Cabinet, fits 16in. paper, Free OBO
  • Twin Mattress, in good condition, Free

  • c. TAMA drum set, as-is, Free OBO
  • Table w/ 4 chairs, Free OBO

  • winn Recumbent Exercise Bike, Free OBO


elections, berkeley, photos, friends, research, policy

L to R: Avi Rubin, Dan Wallach, David Dill, Peter Neumann, Debra Bowen (advisor), David Jefferson (advisor), Doug Jones, Kim Alexander (advisor), Joseph Lorenzo Hall (student), Andrea Mascher (student), (A Rice student I don't know. sigh.), Kristen Greene (student), Mike Byrne.

Image taken by Deb Bowen's Secret Service Detail with Kim Alexander's camera

Questions about content-based research of Tor

open source, secrecy, privacy, berkeley, friends, research, policy, legal, iSchool

A paper was presented yesterday at PETS where a researchers from UW and UCB monitored the Tor network (an anonymizing network) to analyze the content, source and destination of traffic over the network (see McCoy et al. below). Chris Soghoian has an interesting, if not a bit over-the-top, post on the liability and IRB implications of this work ("Researchers could face legal risks for network snooping").

My first reaction was quite selfish: we tried to do a much more narrow study for Doug Tygar's Security and Privacy course at the iSchool in 2006. We spent a ton of time on designing the experiment such that 1) we wouldn't have to involve our IRB at Berkeley, 2) we limited our own and our University's legal liability and 3) we still would have interesting results. Unfortunately, we had the experiment up and ready to turn on, but were ultimately stymied by the archaic way that our University licenses electronic library resources. (See Chen, Hall and Rothenberg below for more.) Well, I'm glad someone's doing it!

My second reaction to Soghoian's post is that it, as I said, is a bit over the top. First, Chris uses rhetoric of "snooping" and such and says they could face legal risks. Yes, the researchers should have designed in to their experiment mechanisms that would limit their liability. Yes, they should have at least submitted the experiment to their IRB or designed it such that it very clearly didn't implicate IRB issues. However, I doubt that a federal prosecutor will go after them (I would love to hear theories of who might else have standing to bring suit).

I do hope that this serves as a lesson to many: you need to talk to people like me and my colleagues that know both tech and the law during the research and experimental design stages of your work! There's no undoing bad things once you've done them... and if you talk to us too late, it's often impossible to remove or patch things that could cause problems or difficulties.

UPDATE [2008-07-25T11:01:50]: Steven Chan pointed me to an article by Aaron Burstein (one of the best collaborators known to man). The article (see Burstein below) is entitled, "Conducting Cybersecurity Research Legally and Ethically". It covers ethical obligations and possible legal liability involved with cybersecurity research on networks, honeypot projects, interdiction and publishing results. There are also slides and notes available from a presentation delivered by Aaron to Vern Paxson's Network Security class at Berkeley.



  • A. Burstein, Conducting Cybersecurity Research Legally and Ethically, UC Berkeley School of Law; Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic, 2008; .

  • Chen, J.L. Hall, and M. Rothenberg, Barriers to Tor Research at UC Berkeley, 2006; .
  • D. McCoy et al., ?Shining Light in Dark Places: Understanding the Tor Network,? Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium 2008, Jul. 2008; .

Brennan Center Releases *Better Ballots*

elections, reform, news, problems, friends, research, policy, usability, legal

The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law has released their ballot design report, Better Ballots, authored by Larry Norden, David Kimball, Whitney Quesenbery and Margaret Chen. (I was part of the task force for this report.) Also, see coverage in the New York Times and USA Today.

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