Free speech advocates sued a manufacturer of electronic voting machines Tuesday, demanding it stop sending legal threats to groups that publish company documents leaked by a hacker. Voting activists who have received the cease-and-desist orders, including students from at least 20 universities, claim the documents raise serious security concerns about Diebold Inc., which has more than 50,000 touchscreen voting terminals nationwide.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Stanford University's Cyberlaw Clinic filed for a temporary restraining order in federal court. Diebold executives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
A hacker broke into Diebold's servers in March using an employee's ID, and copied thousands of company announcements and internal e-mails. The hacker e-mailed the data to voting activists, some of whom published stories on their Web logs. A freelance journalist at Wired News also received data and wrote about it in an online story.
In one series of e-mails, a senior engineer dismisses concern from a lower-level programmer who questions why the company lacked certification for a customized operating system used in touch-screen voting machines. On Monday, a California advisory panel refused to certify new Diebold voting machines, saying it plans to investigate uncertified software and hardware that may have been used in a recent election.
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