Committee Refines Next Set of Voting Standards

On Monday and Tuesday, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) held their 9th plenary meeting at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Responsible for advising the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) on the next edition of the Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines, the TGDC is working hard to make sure they can present their draft to the EAC by the end of July. The May 15th draft is available online for review and comment. While TGDC meetings typically don’t have time for public comment, Anyone may comment on the draft by emailing The document is quite lengthy, so it’s not too early to review it and submit your comments.

As of the end of the meeting yesterday, the sections requiring additional work before final approval were summarized in a document available online.

Much of the discussion concerned clarifications of specific requirements, as well as for definitions that may have different meanings for the technical and election communities, or with the public. At this point most of the changes are small refinements and adjustments in requirements to insure a more consistent, uniform and accessible document. There are some areas, such as requirements for cut sheet voter verified paper records, that need refinement, but the bulk of the document is set.
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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of May 21

The House will consider an omnibus competitiveness bill, the 21st Century Competitiveness Act this week, and may also consider the Holt e-voting legislation, HR 811.

May 21
The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) of the Election Assistance Commission, will meet on their progress toward completing the next Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. The meeting continues on May 22, and a webcast will be available at the TGDC link.
9 a.m.-5 p.m., NIST Headquarters, 100 Summit Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

May 22
The TGDC meeting continues.
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., NIST Headquarters

May 23
The House Science and Technology Committee will mark up pending legislation
10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Building

Spyware Legislation Approved by Committees

In the last two weeks, two different spyware bills have been approved by two different House committees.

On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved HR 964, the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act, or the SPY Act. This committee has approved similar bills in the previous two Congresses, only to see the legislation fail in the Senate. The legislation, co-sponsored by Representatives Rush (D-IL) and Bono (R-CA), would require software companies to notify and obtain permission before the software is downloaded. Fines would be up to $3 million for each violation of software installment and up to $1 million for each instance of personal information being collected without notice and consent. This bill would also handle phishing, online advertising that couldn’t be closed, and tracking Internet activity. There would be some exemptions to the last provision, when the tracking is based on search queries from a toolbar on the computer. The FTC would conduct a study on the prohibitions of information collection, in order to recommend other exemptions.
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USACM Urges Revisions to REAL ID Rules

Yesterday USACM filed detailed comments on the Department of Homeland Security’s draft rules for implementing the REAL ID Act. (For background, Congress passed the controversial REAL ID Act in 2005 over the objections of many privacy, security and technology experts. See our posts (1,2) about USACM’s comments on the law.)

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E-Voting Reform Clears House Committee; ACM Applauds Congressional Attention

I apologize for overloading the blog today, but this has been a busy week so far.

Late yesterday afternoon the Committee on House Administration passed, on a partyline vote, Representative Rush Holt’s legislation — The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007. (Here is the amended version that passed out of committee. For background on the legislation see our posts (1,2.) This legislation may be referred to other House Committee for consideration, or may go straight to the full House for action. We should know more about this in a few days.

Below is our release on the Committee’s action:

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ACM Washington Update, Vol. 11.4 (May 8, 2007)


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] ACM Educates Policymakers About the Threats from Botnets
[3] House of Representatives Honors Turing Award Recipient
[4] USACM Joins Broad Coalition in Urging More Basic Research Funding
[5] Competitiveness Legislation Advances in Congress
[6] House Administration Committee Looks Into Sarasota Undervote
[7] Data Mining and Data Breach Notification Bills Approved in Committee
[8] About USACM
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Hill Tech Happenings, Week of May 7

Energy and Commerce Markup added for May 10.

May 7
The Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a field hearing on certification and testing of electronic voting systems.
9:30 a.m., City Hall, New York CIty.

May 8
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an oversight hearing on REAL ID.
10 a.m., 226 Dirksen Building
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Data Mining and Data Breach Legislation Advance in Congress

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee sent S236, the Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 to the Senate floor by a voice vote. The bill, which we posted about earlier this year, would require the federal government to report annually on the development and use of technologies that would mine data for patterns of criminal or terrorist activity. Any classified, sensitive or proprietary information on data mining would be placed in an annex not available to the public. According to this afternoon’s edition of Technology Daily, the main debate in this morning’s markup was over penalties for leaking material in the annex. The debate focused not on having penalties, but whether or not existing laws covered such leaks.

This bill specifically focuses on the federal government and technologies that it develops for data mining. No legislation currently covers any commerically developed or implemented technologies, though they would be covered under the bill if the federal government made use of them. The full Senate will consider the legislation at a later date.

The Committee also approved two data privacy bills. S239, sponsored by Senator Feinstein, requires companies to notify consumers in the event of security breaches that expose consumer data. S495 focuses on data broker firms such as ChoicePoint, requiring similar notification in the event of a breach and for those firms to let individuals know what sensitive information they have stored in their records, and allow them to correct any inaccuracies.
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E-Voting Update – House Markup and Investigation

The Committee on House Administration has acted within the last week on both the Holt e-voting legislation, H.R. 811, and the contested election for the Florida 13th Congressional District.

First, we must note the passing of the Committee’s Chair, Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald, on April 22nd from cancer. She had just started a formal leave from Congress when she passed, and is the second Representative to pass this year (Rep. Norwood of Georgia also passed from cancer in February). Rep. Brady of Pennsylvania is the interim chair of the committee. Speaker Pelosi is expected to name a new chair within the next few weeks. Rep. Brady is currently running for mayor of Philadelphia, so he may not be chosen, depending on the results of his primary later this month. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama has joined the committee.

The committee met on Thursday, May 3 to markup HR 811, Rep. Holt’s e-voting legislation. There are several amendments under consideration. One is a substitute offered by Rep. Lofgren that has some changes from the Holt bill – more flexibility for the states in how they select audit personnel, and an exemption of commercial off the shelf (COTS) technology from the requirements to place voting technologies in escrow. The Republican members have “9 or 10” amendments, only one of which was available. This amendment, offered by Rep. Ehlers, was a slimmed down version of the bill, with some impractical computer security provisions. The markup was postponed until Tuesday, May 8, given the lack of time members had to review the pending amendments.
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