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Updated: 6 hours 33 min ago

Proprietary Election Systems: Summarily Disqualified

Fri, 2017-04-28 17:06

The following was provided by Brent Turner, California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO) Secretary. CAVO, an OSI Affiliate Member.

Hello Open Source Software Community & U.S. Voters,

I and the California Association of Voting Officials, represent a group of renowned computer scientists that have pioneered open source election systems, including, "one4all," New Hampshire’s Open Source Accessible Voting System (see attached). Today government organizations like NASA, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Air Force rely on open source software for mission critical operations. I and CAVO believe voting and elections are indeed mission-critical to protect democracy and fulfill the promise of the United States of America as a representative republic.

Since 2004, the open source community has advocated for transparent and secure—publicly owned—election systems to replace the insecure, proprietary systems most often deployed within communities. Open source options for elections systems can reduce the costs to taxpayers by as much as 50% compared to traditional proprietary options, which also eliminates vendor lock-in, or the inability of an elections office to migrate away from a solution as costs rise or quality decreases.

Like others, CAVO is opposed to AB-668 Voting Modernization Bond Act of 2018. Although this Act might help our efforts toward better, open source, election systems, the bond funds it creates—450 million dollars—can be used by California localities to procure insecure, over-priced, proprietary systems, which will only lock these communities into additional commitments (and more costs). This Act will set horrible precedent for the United States, only exacerbating the growing national security and confidence crisis surrounding elections and their outcomes.

CAVO finds it incomprehensible that an elected leader in the United States would push for funding of these systems deemed insecure by government studies. Their proprietary nature disqualifies them summarily.

Both I and CAVO are available for further information.

Best regards,
Brent Turner
Secretary, California Association of Voting Officials

Categories: FLOSS Research

React to React

Thu, 2017-04-27 07:36

The OSI has received several inquiries concerning its opinion on the licensing of React [1], which is essentially the 3-clause BSD license along with, in a separate file, an 'Additional Grant of Patent Rights' [2].

The Additional Grant of Patent Rights is a patent license grant that includes certain termination criteria. These termination criteria are not entirely unprecedented when you look at the history of patent license provisions in OSI-approved licenses, but they are certainly broader than the termination criteria [or the equivalent] in several familiar modern licenses (the Apache License 2.0, EPL, MPL 2.0, and GPLv3).

The 'Additional Grant' has attracted a fair amount of criticism (as did an earlier version which apparently resulted in some revisions by Facebook). There was a recent blog post by Robert Pierce of El Camino Legal [3] (which among other things argues that the React patent license is not open source). Luis Villa wrote an interesting response [4].

What do members of the license-discuss community think about the licensing of React? OSI Board Director Richard Fontana posed a few issues to the OSI's License Discuss forum (you can see the thread here):

  • does the breadth of the React patent termination criteria raise OSD-conformance issues or otherwise indicate that React should not be considered open source?
  • is it good practice, and does it affect the open source status of software, to supplement OSI-approved licenses with separate patent license grants or nonasserts? (This has been done by some other companies without significant controversy.)
  • if the React patent license should be seen as not legitimate from an OSI/OSD perspective, what about the substantial number of past-approved (if now mostly obsolete) licenses that incorporated patent license grants with comparably broad termination criteria?
  • should Facebook be encouraged to seek OSI approval for the React license including the patent license grant?

Please note, at the time of this post and discussion, Facebook was a Corporate Sponsor of the Open Source Initiative.

[1] [2] [3] [4]
Categories: FLOSS Research

Volunteering at the 2017 SFBay ACT-W conference

Mon, 2017-04-17 10:48

Special guest article by Sean Roberts (@sarob). The OSI would like to thank Sean, Erich and Zack for all their help in promoting and staffing the OSI booth during the Bay Area ACT-W, and their support of open source software and women in technology. The OSI frequently reaches out to our membership and local open source software advocates to help organize and staff local events—if you're interested in volunteering too, please contact us.

What Was This

I had the privilege of volunteering for the Open Source Initiative (OSI) table at the ACT-W conference at Galvanize, San Francisco this last Saturday with Erich Clauer and Zachariah Sherzad. It was an event focused on giving women the best information on advancing in technical careers. Keynotes and talks sounded excellent on paper, but I missed out on them, as I was in the career fair part of the event for the day. There were many volunteering tables set up in the career area. OSI was one of them. Pyladies, Chicktech, Docusign, among others were there to support technical women. I answered questions about OSI and open source. There was a mix of experience levels, but most were just starting their technical careers.

What Was Happening

Everyone was networking, which is always a good practice. The energy was positive and welcoming. I was able to talk with many women on what OSI stands for and what I could help them with. Describing the benefits of open source is very enjoyable. Especially relevant there were a lot of opportunities to engage people directly. I felt my mentoring on how to join public open source teams was good and valuable information. However, I wasn’t helping with the most important need of all, a paying job.

How To Improve

I should have had a list of open source positions from all the OSI affiliates. Through the ACT-W organizers, I should have asked for digital resumes and LinkedIn URLs before the event started. As people came forward, I could have looked up their resume and matched them with possible openings. Then I could counsel them on their experience and plans.

So, I am going start working with OSI to figure out how we can add these and additional services.


Originally posted at sarob, April 14th, 2017, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Software Freedom Advocates Invited to the Open Source Initiative's Community Social

Sat, 2017-04-01 13:41

OSI hosting a community social for the open source software community: join us for drinks, dinning and discussions.

Meadhall, Cambridge, MA April 04, 2017 -- If you're in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area on Tuesday, April 4th, the OSI Board of Directors invites you to join us and the free and open source software community for a casual evening get-together (Oh, and please feel free to bring a friend).

If you're interested in extending your open source activities, the following day the OSI will be hosting, a symposium on Open Source Software, Open Science, Open Source Hardware, and their role in innovation: "Open Source for Science + Innovation." Details can be found here.

Details for the community social...

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
8:00 PM to ???

4 Cambridge Center
Cambridge MA 02142

Categories: FLOSS Research

Open Source for Science + Innovation

Wed, 2017-03-29 11:40

A symposium on Open Source Software, Open Science, Open Source Hardware, and their role in innovation


Who is this symposium for?
This symposium is for anybody with an interest in open source software, open science, open hardware, and innovation.

What is this symposium about?
We are bringing together open source and open science specialists to talk about the “how and why” of open source and open science. Members of these communities will give brief talks which are followed by open and lively discussions open to the audience. Talks will highlight the role of openness in stimulating innovation but may also touch upon how openness appears to some to conflict with intellectual property interests.

Date/Time: April 5th 2017, 11:30-17:00 pm

Venue provided by CIC Boston,
Lighthouse room
50 Milk Street, 20th floor
Boston, MA 02109 [view map]


      11:30-12:00 Opening session
      12:00-13:00 Session 1 (3 talks)
      13:00-13:45 Session 2 (3 talks)
      13:45-14:30 Break and networking
      14:30-15:30 Session 3 (3 talks)
      15:30-16:30 Session 4 (3 talks)
      16:30-17:00 Summary and open discussions

Contact: Kevin Moerman, MIT Media Lab



Phoebe Ayers
MIT Librarian for Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and Research Data Management
Steering Committee member of the Engineering Archive (EngrXiv)
Topic: Managing and sharing your data and code for openness

Kipp Bradford
Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab board member
Nation of Makers board member
Topic: "Making Patents Work: Invention, Innovation, and the need for Open"

Molly de Blanc
Director at The Open Source Initiative (OSI)

Andrey Fedorov
Assistant Professor in Radiology at the Surgical Planning Laboratory (SPL), Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Ambassador for the Centre for Open Science (COS)

Michael Halle
Instructor of Radiology
Harvard Medical School
Director of Technology Development
Director of Visualization
Surgical Planning Lab
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Patrick Masson
GM & Director at The Open Source Initiative (OSI)
Adjunct Professor, University at Albany, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
“Teaching Open Source: Creating an online course based on Karl Fogel’s text, ‘Producing Open Source Software’”

Kevin Moerman
MIT Media Lab, Biomechatronics
Co-founder and editor for the Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS)
Steering Committee member of the Engineering Archive (EngrXiv)
Developer for the GIBBON open source project


Jessica Polka
Director, ASAPbio, & Visiting Scholar, Whitehead Institute
ASAPbio: a biologist-driven project to promote the use of preprints in the life sciences

Allison Randal
President at the Open Source Initiative (OSI)
Topic: Capabilities for Open Innovation

Travis Rich
MIT Media Lab, Viral Communications Group
Topic: PubPub: a free and open tool for collaborative editing, instant publishing, continuous review, and grassroots journals.

Carol Smith
Director at The Open Source Initiative (OSI)
Topic: Project management in open source communities

Categories: FLOSS Research

OSI Welcomes the Journal of Open Source Software as Affiliate Member

Mon, 2017-03-27 09:24

Open Source Initiative Extends Support for Computational Science and Engineering Research and Researchers.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - March 28, 2017 -- The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), a global non-profit organization formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source software and communities, announced that the Journal Of Open Source Software (JOSS), a peer-reviewed journal for open source research software packages, is now an OSI affiliate member.

JOSS is a response to the growing demand among academics to directly publish papers on research software. Typically, academic journals and papers related to software focus on lengthy descriptions of software (features and functionality), or original research results generated using the software. JOSS provides a means for researchers to directly publish their open source software as source code: the complete set of software with build, installation, test, and usage instructions.

The primary purpose of a JOSS paper is to enable authors to receive citation credit for research software, while requiring minimal new writing. Within academia, it is critical for researchers to be able to measure the impact of their work. While there are many tools and metrics for tracking research outputs, JOSS fills the gap for software source code, which doesn't look like traditional academic research papers, allowing it to be treated as another form of research output.

JOSS has a rigorous peer-review process designed to improve the quality of the software product, and a first-class editorial board experienced at building (and reviewing) high-quality research software. Review criteria assess the research statement of need, installation and build instructions, user documentation and contributing guidelines. The software is also required to have an OSI-approved license and a code of conduct. Authors must include examples of use, tests, and suitable API documentation. Reviewers and authors participate in an open and constructive review process focused on improving the quality of the software—and this interaction itself is subject to the JOSS Code of Conduct.

OSI Board Director Stefano Zacchiroli noted, "JOSS is a clever hack. It addresses the idiosyncrasy of traditional academic publishing that still forces researchers to write bogus papers in order to get credit for the impactful research software they write. By requiring that published software be released under an OSI-approved license, and that a third party archive the software and associate the archive with a DOI, JOSS ensures that published research software enters the software commons and that it be always available for anyone to use, modify, and share."

"On the face of it, writing papers about software is a strange thing to do, especially if there's a public software repository, documentation and perhaps even a website for users of the software. But writing a paper is currently the most recognized method for academics to gain career credit, as it creates a citable entity that can be referenced by other authors." said Arfon Smith, JOSS Editor-in-Chief. "The papers JOSS publishes are conventional papers, other than their short length: the journal is registered with the Library of Congress and has an ISSN. Every JOSS paper is automatically assigned a Crossref DOI and is associated with the ORCID profiles of the authors. If software papers are currently the best solution for gaining career credit for software, then shouldn't we make it as easy as possible to create a software paper?"

In recent years, the OSI has made significant investments in higher education: extending the OSI Affiliate Member Program to institutions of higher education, creating educational materials, sponsoring curriculum development, and even developing a complete online course. Supporting academic research enabled by openly licensed software is a natural progression of the OSI's work in higher education.

The OSI Affiliate Member Program is available at no-cost to non-profit or educational institutions and government agencies—independent groups with a commitment to open source—that support OSI's mission to raise awareness and adoption of open source software and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.

About The Journal Of Open Source Software

Founded in 2016, the Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS) is a developer-friendly peer-reviewed academic journal for research software packages, designed to improve the quality of the submitted software and to make software citable as a research product. JOSS is an open-access journal committed to running at minimal cost, with zero publication fees or subscription fees. With volunteer effort from the editorial board and community reviewers, donations, and minimal infrastructure cost, JOSS can remain a free community service. Learn more about JOSS at:

About the Open Source Initiative

Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative protects and promotes open source by providing a foundation for community success. It champions open source in society through education, infrastructure and collaboration. The (OSI) is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, or to learn how to become an affiliate, please visit:

Media Contact
Ed Schauweker

Categories: FLOSS Research

San Francisco Open Source Voting System Project Continues On

Thu, 2017-03-23 15:13

This update on San Francisco's project to develop and certify the country's first open source voting system was submitted by OSI Individual Member Chris Jerdonek. While Chris is a member (and President) of the San Francisco Elections Commission, he is providing this update as an individual and not in his official capacity as a Commissioner. Chirs' e-mail is, and a website with that domain is expected soon.

Some "Action Items"

Below are some things you can do to help the effort:

  • Show support by following @SFOpenVoting on Twitter:
  • Retweet the following tweet about a recent front-page news story to help spread the word:
  • Reply to Chris with the words "keep me posted" if you'd like me to notify you sooner if something interesting happens related to the project (e.g. an RFP or job posting getting posted, an important Commission meeting coming up, the publishing of a news piece about SF open source voting, etc).
  • Reply to Chris with the words "might want to help" if you might like to help organize or be part of a core group of activists to help build more support and otherwise help the project succeed. This would likely start off with a small organizing meeting.
  • Show your support and come watch the next Elections Commission meeting on Wed, April 19 at 6pm in Room 408 of San Francisco City Hall:
San Francisco Examiner Article

At the February 15 Elections Commission meeting, the Elections Commission voted unanimously to ask the Mayor's Office to allocate $4 million towards initial development of the open source voting project for the 2018-19 fiscal year (from Aug. 2018 - July 2019). This would go towards initial development once the planning phase is complete.

The San Francisco Examiner wrote a good article about this development here (with the headline appearing on the front page):

Latest Project Updates

The open source voting project is starting to gain some definition. For the latest, read the March 2017 Director's Report in the agenda packet of last week's March 15 Elections Commission meeting:

A few highlights from the report:

  • Very soon (perhaps within the next few days), the Department will be posting a job opening for a senior staff position to assist with the project.
  • In addition, by the end of March or so, the Department will be issuing an RFP for an outside contractor to help plan and create a "business case" for the project.
  • Software for the project will be released under version 3 of the GNU General Public License where possible. (GPL-3.0 is a copyleft license, which means that future changes would also be assured open source.)
  • The software is projected to be released to the public as it is written, which would be great for increased public visibility and transparency.
Citizen's Advisory Committee

Also at last week's Elections Commission meeting, the Commission started discussing the idea of forming a Citizen's Advisory Committee to help guide the open source voting project. This is an idea that was raised at the February meeting, as well as previously.

At the meeting, it was suggested that the committee help advise primarily on technical matters -- things like agile procurement approaches, project management, open source issues, and engineering / architecture issues.

The Commission will be taking this up again at its April meeting on April 19 (and possibly voting on it).

If you might be interested in serving on the committee, you are encouraged to listen to the discussion from last week's meeting to get an idea of what it might be like (starting at 11 mins, 18 sec):

(And if you know someone who might be good to serve on such a committee, please forward them this info!)

FairVote California house party (recap)

In early March, Chris spoke about San Francisco's open source voting project at a house party organized by FairVote California. Thank you to FairVote California for having me!

If anyone would like me to speak to a group of people about the project, just shoot me an e-mail. It would only require 5 minutes or so of a group's time.

GET Summit (upcoming: May 17-18)

On May 17-18 in San Francisco, there will be a conference on open source and election technology issues called the GET Summit:

The conference is being organized by Startup Policy Lab (SPL) and has an amazing line-up of many speakers, including people like California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and former Federal Elections Commissioner (FEC) Ann Ravel. In September 2016, Alex Padilla said on television that "open source [voting] is the ultimate in transparency and accountability for all." And Ann Ravel made headlines last month with her very public resignation from the FEC. See the conference website for the latest speaker list.

So that's all folks! Please follow @SFOpenVoting on Twitter if you haven't yet, and thank you for all your continued interest and support!

We thank Chris Jerdonek for his work in raising awareness of San Francisco's efforts to develop an open source voting system and sharing these updates with us here at the OSI and the larger open source software community.

Categories: FLOSS Research

CAVO Continues to Advance Open Source for Democracy

Mon, 2017-02-27 21:37

OSI Affiliate Member, the California Association of Voting Officials (CAVO), has shared some exciting news regarding their advocacy work in San Francisco: according to the San Francisco Examiner, the city of San Francisco is pushing forward with plans to develop their open source election system. In addition, the paper is reporting that the San Francisco Elections Commission voted unanimously on Feb 17th to request $4 million to fund the initial stages of the open source voting system.

For many years board members of CAVO have been urging San Francisco to expedite, "the creation and deployment of a GPL v3 open source / paper ballot printing system that would set the standard for voting systems nationally." According to CAVO, currently only New Hampshire has deployed a voting system using open source software, Prime III.

"We have been speaking with many members of the intelligence community regarding the immediate necessity of securing the election systems" states CAVO communications lead Brent Turner. "We feel we are finally breaking through the proprietary software lobbyist's block that has delayed political will."

CAVO reports San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Elections Commission, and community groups have directed the San Francisco Department of Elections to expedite the new open source system.

For more information regarding open source election systems - see

CAVO Welcomes New Board Member

And in more open source elections news, Dr. Jean Camp has joined the California Association of Voting Officials and National Association of Voting Officials in their efforts to provide the election administration community with appropriately secure voting systems and election administration education.

Commenting on her appointment, Dr. Camp stated, "I am proud to serve on the California and national board. The work of this association is crucial to the integrity of our democracy."

CAVO / NAVO has been the focus of national attention in questioning the validity of election results tendered by vendor sold "secret software" systems while advocating the benefits of publicly owned /open source voting systems." Professor Camp is a great addition to our board," said NAVO Secretary Brent Turner. "We look forward to her input."

Jean Camp is a Professor at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University (like CAVO, IU is also an OSI Affiliate Member). She joined Indiana after eight years at Harvard’s Kennedy School where her courses were also listed in Harvard Law, Harvard Business, and the Engineering Systems Division of MIT. She spent the year after earning her doctorate from Carnegie Mellon as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. She began her career as an engineer at Catawba Nuclear Station and with a MSEE at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focuses on the intersection of human and technical trust, levering economic models and human-centered design to create safe, secure systems. She is the author of two monographs. In addition, she has authored more than one hundred fifty publications.

Jean Camp joins other CAVO board member notables Dr. Juan Gilbert and Brian Fox to be part of the pioneering team.

Categories: FLOSS Research