Re: GAO VVSG - definition of open software

From: Joseph Lorenzo Hall <joehall_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Tue Jul 12 2005 - 10:39:31 CDT

Of course, as some vendors will have to do here in California, there
is also the possibility of having some of their code open source and
some not... so there could be hybrids of Charlie's spectrum. -Joe

On 7/12/05, Charlie Strauss <> wrote:
> 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 construed as forbidding reverse engineering of an unpublished DDT.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
> machine.
> 6) Copyrighted but open source
> 7) Copyleft open source (GNU like)
> 7) free open source (BSD like)
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Joseph Lorenzo Hall
UC Berkeley, SIMS PhD Student
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Received on Sun Jul 31 23:17:15 2005

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