[clug] AEC denies FOI request to source code of 'EasyCount' for counting Senate votes.
francis.markham at anu.edu.au
Mon Jul 7 23:03:36 MDT 2014
I agree that funding the crowd funding project a good way to go.
But FoI is not the only way to get this information. I would suggest, for
example, that someone close to the FoI request team contact Senator Ludlam
(who has a reasonable record to these issues) and see if he can assist in
getting the source code tabled as a document in the Senate.
On 8 Jul 2014 05:01, "Alex (Maxious) Sadleir" <maxious at gmail.com> wrote:
> There's a crowd funding campaign to get as much legal resources as
> possible directed to a 26 August AAT hearing reviewing AEC's decision
> not to release any information (no source code, no
> manuals/documentation, not even the titles of the files/documents in
> question!) http://www.pozible.com/project/183015
> On Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:53 AM, steve jenkin <sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au>
> > Anyone across this issue?
> > Is any action possible?
> > <
> > In the USA, the AEC would be on far shakier ground as their constitution
> (?) states, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”. In
> Westminster Democracies, like ours, the Government represents The Crown,
> not The People, very important difference.
> > In the world of Open Source, this is often taken to be that software
> developed by Universities & Government Agencies and _implicitly_ paid for
> by the public, is automatically owned by the public.
> > Somehow that gets reformulated with biotech patents.
> > regards
> > steve
> > Other comments:
> > I agree there could be a ‘trade secret’ for an implementation of a
> publicly known algorithm.
> > There are clever, non-obvious ways to do things that are worth real
> money in commercial operations.
> > I don’t agree that the AEC should hold the software secret. AEC declared
> the software "non-commercial” and it's paid for by the public purse and
> used strictly for public purposes.
> > <https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/software_by_which_senate_counts>
> > <https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/attachment_b_to_ls4944>
> > <http://easycount.mjec.net>
> > Letter 4-Jul-14, Relevant paras:
> > 14 - refusal on grounds of Trade Secret
> > 33 - declaring mjec a ‘Vexatious Applicant'
> > <
> > On the mjec.net site, he gives this as the summary of positions:
> > ==============
> > The AEC's position is that EasyCount contains a trade secret, namely the
> algorithm used to count Senate votes. On this basis they have refused
> access to the documents. Their position is that the trade secret extends to
> the titles of the documents and so they have refused to provide a schedule
> of identified documents.
> > My position is that there can be no secret in the algorithm, because it
> is public, and that the source code is in any case not commercially
> valuable within the meaning of the FOI Act (i.e. its release would not
> cause substantial commercial harm to the AEC). I also take the position
> that in any case there is no trade secret in the titles of the relevant
> > ==============
> > --
> > Steve Jenkin, IT Systems and Design
> > 0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
> > PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA
> > mailto:sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin
> > --
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