E-Voting and Copyright Law

The problems concerning electronic voting machines and copyright law which have been discussed in the U.S. for some time, in particular concerning Diebold (see here and here), are slowly appearing in other countries as well. In Germany, at the last federal election, in about 2,200 of approximately 80,000 voting districts, electronic voting machines of the Dutch manufacturer Nedap were used. In order to be used in official elections, under German federal election law, this machine type had to get an approval by a federal agency (the national metrology institute). This approval certifies that the voting machine is compliant with the requirements set forth in the election statute.

Recently, a journalist used the German Freedom of Information Act in order to receive the respective certification documents which would show what exactly the voting machine is doing etc. The federal agency released some general information, but refused to release detailed information because such information was copyrighted by Nedap, and Nedap had refused to grant a license for this release.

More information on this case is available here (although currently only in German).

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