Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States

“The privacy of the voting booth?” There’s not much privacy there.

The nation’s top voting machine maker has admitted in a letter to a federal lawmaker that the company installed remote-access software on election-management systems it sold over a period of six years, raising questions about the security of those systems and the integrity of elections that were conducted with them. In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had “provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,” which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them.

Even worse, the company previously lied about the capability to remotely access election-management systems.

A few details and links to the various references mentioned may be found in the Slashdot web site.

Privacy Pioneers Plan ‘Zero Tracking’ Rival to Facebook, to be called Openbook

The recent exposure of Facebook’s business practices seems to be creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs: creating privacy-oriented alternatives to Facebook. For one, see my earlier article, A Message for Facebook Users: Do You Want Real Online Privacy? at However, the two services mentioned in that article are not alone; dozens of others are scrambling to attract former Facebook users who have become dissatisfied with the social network after the huge data leak to Cambridge Analytica as well as to others.

One new platform being developed in Europe and designed to be fully compliant with the European privacy laws is called Openbook. The venture is backed by security and privacy experts including Philip Zimmermann, who created PGP, the most widely used email encryption software, and Jaya Baloo, chief information security officer for Dutch telecoms company KPN Telecom. The site will be “open source, zero tracking, zero spying, zero ads”, and give 30 per cent of its revenue to charitable causes.

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Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Personal Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates

A future in which everything you do — the things you buy, the food you eat, the time you spend watching TV — may help determine how much you pay for health insurance. With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans.

The companies are tracking your race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth, and more. They’re collecting what you post on social media, whether you’re behind on your bills, what you order online. Then they feed this information into complicated computer algorithms that spit out predictions about how much your health care could cost them.

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GOP Congressman Introduces Bill To Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) today announced his support for a bill that would institute the basic outlines of the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet order, which banned the throttling and blocking of content as well as harmful paid prioritization practices. He is also the first Republican to sign on to the Democrat-led discharge petition, which aims to force a vote on the House floor to roll back the FCC’s December decision to repeal net neutrality. The Verge reports:
The 21st Century Internet Act aims to restructure the current framework by which the internet has been governed since the ’90s. Coffman’s bill moves past this argument by amending the 1934 Telecommunications Act and adding the new Title VIII. This new classification would “permanently codify into law the ‘four corners’ of net neutrality” by banning providers from controlling traffic quality and speed and forbidding them from participating in paid prioritization programs or charging access fees from edge providers. 

A Message for Facebook Users: Do You Want Real Online Privacy?

Let’s “face” it: Facebook is a huge success despite all its privacy-invasive business practices. The company became a multi-billion dollar success story by exploiting the personal data of two billion people. If you are a Facebook user, your approximate income, your religious preferences, political leanings, ethnic origins, how many children you have, and even sexual preferences probably are available to anyone who wishes to pay for that information. Yes, even representatives of various governments around the world can purchase your personal information, as can credit reporting agencies, private detective agencies, the Republicans, the Democrats, the American Nazi Party, or any other political group. Many people, including myself, think there’s something wrong with that.

I have read many online articles, newsgroups, newspapers, and magazines with articles suggesting the governments of the world should stop Facebook from collecting and selling the personal data of all its members. I suspect that effort will go nowhere. First of all, defining “personal data” is a fuzzy challenge. Just what should be legal to collect and sell versus what should be illegal? Any potential laws would need to define what constitutes “personal data,” and that alone seems like Herculean challenge.

Next, the multi-billionaire CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has an army of lawyers and highly-paid lobbyists whose sole job is to make sure that Facebook can continue to conduct its business in any manner that Zuckerberg wishes forever. After all, Zuckerberg is the one who stated in public: “privacy is a social norm of the past.” Now that he is a multi-billionaire, you know he wants to protect the business he has created. If any legislation concerning collecting and selling personal information ever appears in the U.S. Congress or elsewhere, Zuckerberg and his minions will soon make it disappear. Yes, lawyers and highly-paid lobbyists have long proven they do have that much influence.

I will suggest there is a better solution, and it is very simple: take our business elsewhere.

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IEEE Statement on Strong Encryption vs. Backdoors

A note in Bruce Schneier’s excellent Crypto-Gram newsletter  mentions the following:

The IEEE came out in favor of strong encryption:

IEEE supports the use of unfettered strong encryption to protect confidentiality and integrity of data and communications. We oppose efforts by governments to restrict the use of strong encryption and/or to mandate exceptional access mechanisms such as “backdoors” or “key escrow schemes” in order to facilitate government access to encrypted data. Governments have legitimate law enforcement and national security interests. IEEE believes that mandating the intentional creation of backdoors or escrow schemes — no matter how well intentioned — does not serve those interests well and will lead to the creation of vulnerabilities that would result in unforeseen effects as well as some predictable negative consequences

The full statement is available at