USACM-EC Member to Speak on Electronic Voting

Harry Hochheiser, Assistant Professor at Towson University and member of the USACM Executive Committee, will speak next month on “Voting: The Evolving Political and Technical Landscape” His remarks will be part of the regular series of speakers hosted by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. The series is free and open to the public, and will take place at Funger Hall, Room 221, on the George Washington University campus.

Dr. Hochheiser will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 11. Funger Hall is at 2201 G Street, N.W. in Washington. From the event description on the DC ACM website:

As the 2008 presidential elections near, voting technologies are still the topic of considerable debate among policy makers and technicians. Some jurisdictions have abandoned electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots, others have required paper trails. Advocates argue for or against different options, while researchers evaluate voting technologies and propose new alternative designs. This talk will explore recent developments in voting technologies and regulations, from both policy and research perspectives.

About the speaker:
Dr. Hochheiser is an Assistant Professor in Towson University’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences. His research interests include human-computer interaction, with a focus on accessibility and universal usability; information visualization; bioinformatics; and computing and public policy.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the ACM US Public Policy Committee (USACM), Dr. Hochheiser has been involved in ACM’s study of Voter Registration Databases, and in drafting USACM comments on proposed voting guidelines.

Online Activity Tracked Without Explicit Consent

The Washington Post reports today about the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s ongoing inquiry into the online tracking activity of various internet companies. The Post reports that some internet companies have been using targeted-advertising technology without the explicit consent of consumers. More than a third of the 33 companies that received letters have indicated they do not conduct behavioral advertising – advertising based on users’ internet activity based on deep packet inspection.

This investigation started with the Committee sending a letter to Embarq Corporation about a online advertising test conducted with their internet users. The committee also held a hearing on deep packet inspection and it’s privacy implications, which we noted earlier on this blog. The Committee followed this with letters to additional companies, which can be viewed online along with an explanatory press release. The committee has also posted responses that they have received to date. I should note, however, that the link to those letters is not readily available from the Committee’s website – I accessed it through the link in the Washington Post article. Google has made their letter available through their public policy blog.
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ACM Washington Update, Vol. 12.7 (August 7, 2008)


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] USACM Member Appointed to Elections Assistance Commission Board
[3] Senate Introduces New Electronic Voting Legislation
[4] FCC Finds Comcast Violated Net Neutrality
[5] House Hears Testimony on IT R&D, Executive Branch Seeks Input on Program
[6] Universities Face Peer-to-Peer Monitoring in Reauthorized Higher Education Act
[7] House Votes to Extend E-verify Program
[8] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available at]
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ACM E-Voting Expert Named to Key Federal Advisory Committee

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) recently appointed USACM-EC member Barbara Simon to the Board of Advisors for the Election Assistance Commission. USACM had nominated her along with three other USACM members to serve on the board in the positions reserved for technical and scientific professionals. Our release on Simons appointment is below, and you can find our letter on the nominations here.

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House Approves Extension of E-Verify

Part of the ongoing debates over electronic employment verification systems is that the current basic pilot, or E-Verify program, is set to expire later this year. While there is still some disagreement over how the program might be expanded, I am aware of no one in Congress advocating for the program to be discontinued.

The House has taken the first step in extending (not expanding) this program when it recently passed HR 6633. The extension will be for five years (through October 31 November 30, 2013). The additional provisions of the bill would establish a stronger cost sharing relationship between the Social Security Administration (which is responsible for one of the databases used by the basic pilot), and the Department of Homeland Security. The inconsistent payment to the Social Security Administration, for basic pilot expenses has been a sticking point with some members of Congress. The bill also establishes two studies, one evaluating errors in the non-confirmation of employment eligibility (and the impacts of those errors), and the other focusing on the costs and efforts for small businesses to comply with the basic pilot reporting requirements.

With the expiration of this program coming soon, this bill actually has a chance of passing prior to the election recess (Congress is currently in recess until after Labor Day). But the Senate has been shy towards immigration since their last attempt at major immigration reform, so it’s not a certainty.