Re: GAO VVSG - definition of open software

From: Charlie Strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Tue Jul 12 2005 - 09:27:13 CDT

A small nit.

Putting something in XML does not make it open or even human readable.

If you dont realease the Document descriptors a third party may not
be able to work with it. And under some cases the DMCA might even be
construed as forbidding reverse engineering of an unpublished DDT.

Second, for good, laudable reasons, and at the request of the state
elections officials, Acupoll had to encrypt its XML. thus the XML is
not readable until it is decoded in the central tabulator.

Third, a mischevious company could in principle rotate it's XML ddt
through a pre-programmed but secret set so as to render the utility
of having a published DDT for any given election worthless to any
third party trying to write a general purpose reader.

So the point is specifying XML itself is not sufficient.

The specification needs to be that a third party would be
unencumbered in writing a data reader. One can quibble if this DDT
needs to be perfectly ope (as I think it should) or available for a
very minor license fee (one might argue that accupoll's encryptiion
scheme is clever enough to be worth charging for)

Also since other than OVC, at present open source is not forthcoming
and wont be from any company using Windows one should at least
recognize that there are degrees of closed source.

from the most pernicious to the least I would rank these as follows.

1) pure closed source
2) escrowed source. Generally this is impossible to view since
companies will fight the escrow release triggers

3) viewable by NDA. the problem is NDAs keep the best eyes out and
prevent publication of bugs

4) NDA but NDA allows publication of sufficient code to explain any
bugs found.

5) NDA is specific to voting systems only. Would not prevent a
programmer from writing simmilar code for say a postage stamp vending

6) Copyrighted but open source

7) Copyleft open source (GNU like)

7) free open source (BSD like)

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Received on Sun Jul 31 23:17:15 2005

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