Alastair Thompson – General Manager/Co-Founder,

“In 2003, we also started publishing stuff about the Diebold voting machines, so basically the hackability of the US voting infrastructure and the fact that the electronic machines were owned by Republicans and seemingly capable of being manipulated by them. That was a story which the US media, including the progressive media in the United States, refused to run so we became like a key focal point for the coverage of that information. At the height of it, somebody leaked – it was like a presage to Wikileaks – somebody basically leaked the source code for all the Diebold voting machines... Actually, they didn’t leak it. Diebold left it on an open FTP website where it could be copied and there were five or six gigabytes of this data. The United States activist who found this data and analysed it and discovered that it showed that you could use Microsoft Access to basically hack into the US election at the tabulator and then remove traces from the audit log because the audit log was also openable by Access. We published the source code. They tried to get the story out in the United States. None of the computer scientists in the United States would look at any of the source code because they were concerned that they would be done under the DMCA or various other things – that’s the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that had been passed by George Bush shortly before that which made it a felony to crack a zipped password, which was a relatively easy thing to do but at that stage they were concerned about that. So we published the source code and we published a description of how you can hack a US election. And that story got slashed out and it went totally mega. The source code itself was hosted on one of the Actrix servers here in Wellington and downloaded month by month by hundreds and hundreds of people in the States, including a group of people from John Hopkins University who were computer scientists. And they found one of the sets of source code that wasn’t encrypted so they weren’t going to get into trouble with the DMCA, analysed that and published a paper very, very quickly within about a fortnight. And then The New York Times ran a story saying that these scientists had said that the voting infrastructure for the touchstream voting was hopelessly inadequate and that opened the lid on the story. I think it’s fair to say that the publication of that story opened the Pandora’s box.”


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