Friday, October 17, 2003

The Demise of BlackBoxVoting.com- part 2

After posting a little inquiry at the BlackBoxVoting.com forum regarding the proposed "Help America Vote Act (HAVA)," I was shocked to see the entire website removed within 24 hours. In it's place, TotalChoiceHosting.com put up a notice that the website had been suspended. I decided to write a letter to TotalChoiceHosting:

I am sickened that you would suspend BlackBoxVoting.com. I would like to think Americans have the right to question the ballot box procedures. We need fair voting. By suspending this website, you've gone against the principles of American democracy.

This is disgusting, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.


Here's the response I got:

Hi,

Your account has been suspended due to excessive spamming from the account.

As a side note, totalchoice hsoting is not politically motivated, but we are a business company that does not host spammers.

This ticket will be placed on hold until Bill Kish can deal with your account.

Thanks,
Jim
Total Choice Hosting Guru


Somehow, I guess "Jim" thought this was my website, which it is not. Jim also has a hard time spelling the word "hosting," which is a little strange, but not unusual considering the state of education in America.

Gabe Wachob of wachob.com provided me with some additional insight on the problem:

The problem is that the blackboxvoting site was taken down as a result of a DMCA "pull down" demand by Diebold. The DMCA allows a copyright owner to claim infringement and demand that a service provider remove allegedly offending material (without any judicial finding). The service provider is then "shielded" from a contributory infringement claim (the "safe harbor").

Diebold will simply go around making the take-down demand to any hoster in U.S. jurisdiction. This is a example of the abuse those of us who vehemently oppose the DMCA knew was going to happen as a result of the DMCA's passage.

There are procedures for blackboxvoting to respond to the takedown claim, but they appear ineffective. The only real hope for blackboxvoting is have it hosted outside the United States (or fight Diebold head-on, but thats a rough uphill fight).

The bottom line is that Intellectual Property laws are being used to silence the "small guy" in the face of corporate (or other well-organized) interests. And of course IP laws are used to threaten after perfectly legitimate uses of peer to peer technology (as an example).

I'd like Dean (as would many who found Dean through the Internet) to take a stand on the DMCA and related IP laws which grant way too much power to holders of intellectual property - far more power than the "founding fathers" intended.

The DMCA and copyright is not the only arena in which IP laws are abusive and abused - many fear that software (and business method) patents are destroying (or at least seriously retarding) the ability of individuals and small businesses to innovate and come up with creative new uses of technology to compete with entrenched large IP holders.

These are serious issues that I hope will become more visible as candidates are exposed first hand to the Internet. The extremely unbalanced IP regime smacks of the same sort of one-sided policy favoritism as the recent Bush tax cuts. And its favoritism thats practiced by both political parties. I'd hope as the "outsider" candidate, Dean would be willing to take on the entrenched IP industries.


For more commentary by Gabe, go to:
http://www.wachob.com

For more information on the dangers of DMCA, go to:

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse
http://www.chillingeffects.org/

The Anti-DMCA Website
http://anti-dmca.org/

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E.P. Friday, October 17, 2003