Prepared by Staff for Why War?
How We Defeated Diebold
The Diebold electronic civil disobedience campaign was a spectacular success for the new movement. A small handful of individuals were able to force a multinational corporation into retreat. It was a nearly perfect campaign in every aspect of execution. Being fortunate enough to both witness and intimately guide the spectacle, I have written this text to spark ideas on new tactics.
Timeline of Events
July 8, 2003
Scoop.co.nz says in an email sent to members of the press that "We have just broken probably the biggest story in the history of Scoop and possibly one of the biggest stories in the history of the Internet.
Sept. 25, 2003
An announcement was sent to our discussion list as soon as blackboxvoting.org was shut down by Diebold for alleged DMCA violations:
Hopefully everyone has been carefully following the (still) developing story about Diebold's election software now being used in 37 states. In a major turn of events Diebold has shut down blackboxvoting.org because it posted links to their internal memos which prove (!) that they knew their software did not have any security whatsoever.
Obviously, this company not only knew there were serious problems but is absolutely refusing to fix them at all. Add this to already confirmed "abnormalities" in previous Diebold-managed elections (such as one florida county giving Gore a few thousand NEGATIVE, yes - he received a negative number of votes).
In this e-mail I indicated that Why War? would host a copy of the memos in the form of a PDF that I created. We later discovered that this PDF was incomplete, and we discarded it in favor of the complete archive [tarred file].
Oct. 3, 2003
Through a Google search, Diebold discovers the PDF that is hosted by Why War? and our host contacts a Why War? board member. To maintain our commercial host, the memos are moved to the Swarthmore network and a press release is quickly sent out to the discussion list:
In the latest development in the battle for a fair 2004 presidential election, Diebold Election Systems has struck at Why War? (http://www.why-war.com).
Diebold, which develops the electronic election systems used in over 30 U.S. states, is attempting to pull Why War?'s internet connection because the student antiwar organization posted a copy of Diebold's internal memos - memos which prove that Diebold knowingly developed an election system which provides no security against vote fraud.
Aside from offering concrete proof that Diebold was aware of the insecurity of its system, the internal memos also reveal that during the 2000 Presidential election a Diebold machine gave Al Gore negative 16,022 votes. Why War? believes the American public should take seriously the claim by the CEO of Diebold that he is, "COMMITTED TO HELPING OHIO DELIVER ITS ELECTORAL VOTES TO THE PRESIDENT NEXT YEAR" (see Salon article below).
It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the public is able to read these memos in order to educate themselves about the horrendous potential vote fraud that Diebold may facilitate in the 2004 election. It is Why War?'s position that this concern for democracy outweighs any complaints of copyright infringement presented by Diebold.
Why War? has responded to Diebold's legal threat by removing the internal memos from the why-war.com domain, and mirroring them elsewhere.
Those individuals who wish to continue to push for a fair election are strongly urged to download and share the memos with their friends.
Oct. 6, 2003
I search the Internet and look for blogs and post comments about the new (Swarthmore) location of the memos. One of the highest-ranked pages I discover is a San Francisco Indymedia page. I post a comment.
Oct. 10, 2003
The day October break begins at Swarthmore, Diebold sends take-down requests to both SF Indymedia's ISP, the Online Policy Group (OPG) and my ISP, Swarthmore College. These two institutions, both praised for their liberal attitude, act quite differently. The Online Policy Group resists and seeks legal representation from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). And, as we shall see, the EFF agrees to represent OPG. Swarthmore instead contacts me that day and asks me to remove the memos. Unwilling to take the memos down, but aware that Swarthmore can simply disconnect my Internet connection, the first glimmers of the civil disobedience campaign appear. I write to the internal Why War? e-mail list and the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons (SCDC) e-mail list:
[Swarthmore's IT Department] has called me and left a voice mail indicating I have three days to remove the Diebold files before they will either refer the matter to the Deans or cut my internet access.
I am going to return his call, explain the situation, and ask to be refered to the deans. If he instead wishes to cut my access, then we need to decide how to move this file around again.
The e-mail sparks a reply from SCDC and a meeting is held. I suggest that we turn this into an electronic civil disobedience campaign; everyone agrees. Initially the idea was that we would force Swarthmore into a direct confrontation with Diebold by making this a campus-centered campaign. Explaining the situation, I send the following e-mail out members of Why War? and SCDC:
Electronic Civil Disobedience
SCDC + Why War? are calling all Swarthmore students, staff, and faculty to engage in digital civil disobedience. In order to bring attention to voter fraud and the illegal actions of Diebold, Why War? will recruit a critical mass of individuals who will engage in electronic civil-disobedience by hosting the Diebold Memos. [...] We will set up an undisclosed number of hosts. We will then publicize the URL of one of those hosts. If Diebold files a DMCA complaint, we will take the server down and replace it with a different one. We will continue this action until either Swarthmore is forced to disconnect access to the internet for every student, staff, and faculty member on campus or Diebold ceases its actions.
Please take a moment to read and think about this email. A major stage of the battle against Diebold has now occurred and Why War? + SCDC need your help.
The Situation Now
The situation now is that Diebold has contacted Swarthmore College and asked them to force me to remove the file from my computer's server. Swarthmore College's copyright policy is not very developed. Meaning, we are really the first people to test the school in this way. [ITS] indicated that this is Swarthmore's Copyright code
"It is the policy of Swarthmore College to comply with all relevant sections of the United States Copyright Law. Our policies assume respect for the rights of copyright holders, tempered by the recognition that the educational process dictates a flexible and good faith interpretation of the "fair use" doctrine."
The rest of the document is specifically geared towards the reproduction of educational materials. The only other area that this school has experienced is RIAA/MPAA violations. In other words, we are asking them to do something that they may be willing to do if we are able to convince them to listen to our arguments.
Our goal is to demonstrate how the DMCA, along with copyright law, is being used to silence evidence of criminal voter fraud. We have a file which has for only brief moments ever appeared on the internet because Diebold has been successful in stopping its distribution. It is a file that is openly talked about but never seen. But it is an extremely important file that has changed peoples minds about Diebold.
One journalist in Seattle has written:
"[Dean Logan, director of records, elections and licensing services in Seattle,] said he decided election security was a "legitimate issue" after internal company e-mail was posted on the Internet and discussed in a Salon.com article Monday. The memos appeared to support reports by Renton Web journalist and author Bev Harris that election results on Diebold's GEMS software could be altered by someone using its underlying Microsoft Access software without leaving a trace in the GEMS audit log."
Later the same article notes:
"'Right now you can open GEMS' .mdb file with MS-Access, and alter its contents. That includes the audit log,' wrote Ken Clark, an employee of Diebold Election Systems, in an October 2001 e-mail."
Our goal is to publicize the normally silent act of suppressing information.
What Needs to Be Done
Our first host has voluntarily taken down the file. Unfortunately, most of the student body has gone on holiday. However, when school starts we will openly begin compiling a list of students who have volunteered to host the file. We will then publicly announce our next host.
If you are a Swarthmore student who is willing conduct an act of electronic civil disobedience, please email why-war.com with your name, email, extension, and type of operating system. Please forward this to all @swarthmore.edu email addresses you know.Oct. 11–20, 2003
During October break at Swarthmore, several important events occur. Branen Salmon, Swarthmore student and member of SCDC, contacts the EFF around Oct. 16. This happens to be the same day that the EFF announces it will represent the OPG. The Chronicle for Higher Education begins doing a story on the campaign. And most importantly, on Oct. 19, the Register breaks the story that the EFF is representing the OPG against Diebold.
Oct. 21, 2003
Dean Bob Gross contacts me and a meeting is scheduled for the next day. Immediately an e-mail is sent out to Why War? and SCDC members on campus:
Bob Gross called Why War? and SCDC today and informed us that he has been in contact with Swarthmore's legal council about the Diebold memos. He has invited all of us to have a meeting with him at 4pm on Wednesday to discuss the issue. It is crucial that we demonstrate how firmly we believe in this action by having a LARGE number of swatties turn out for this meeting.
Please, come to the meeting at 4pm in Bob Gross' office to respectfully listen to the College's position and reiterate our commitment to engage in electronic civil disobedience over this issue!
A press release is then sent out to the media. The response is extremely positive; the editor of Scoop tells us to submit the story to Slashdot. The story is accepted and Why War? is /.ed. Realizing that there is a meeting with Dean Bob Gross the next day, I post a comment on Slashdot and ask people to e-mail him supporting the campaign. Gross told us that he had received over 250 e-mails, and since most of them were copied to us, we knew that they were coming in from across the globe.
Oct. 22, 2003: "Day Two"
The meeting with Dean Gross attracts substantial campus attention. At this point our campaign is receiving mass media attention and we begin posting updates to our website. It will be helpful to read those posts as they represent the public campaign. While the majority of the people at the meeting with Gross wanted to pursue the legal course of action by taking down the memos and filing a counter-notification, a course of action argued for by those in contact with the EFF, some said that we should continue the civil disobedience campaign. Prof. Timothy Burke suggested that we move the campaign onto other colleges. I argued that we should pursue both actions simealtaneously. After the meeting SCDC and Why War? begin working on the separate courses of action and cease communication for legal reasons — though both organizations are aware generally of each others actions.
Oct. 23, 2003
Oct. 24 to Nov. 6, 2003
The substantial media attention allows Why War? to control the media through brief statements. We are able to both force Swarthmore into defending its lack of principle publically, which results in their support of SCDC's actions, and are able to play the media by failing to mention that we already had permanent mirrors for the Diebold memos located in foreign countries. In order to pump the story we turned it into a domestic .edu campaign, which meant that Diebold was forced to send DMCA violations to some of the most famous universities in America.
Nov. 25, 2003
Citing the widespread availability of the documents, Diebold backs down and retreats from its takedown requests.