Three University of Chicago students last week posted confidential information about Diebold, a company that manufactures voting machines, on their personal websites. The 13,000 pages of documents, consisting mainly of inter-office memos, revealed the possibilities of miscalculation of election results and unsecure software in Diebold's machines.
While the rest of the world is just now finding out about the hacked messages, the information has already been circulating at campuses across the country as students try to take control of the situation and effect change in the electoral process. Students, part of the demographic that is least likely to vote, are now at the forefront of the movement for greater fairness in the voting process. Young people familiar with the Internet are effectively using its vast resources to spread their message to a much wider audience.
If presented with a cease-and-desist order to remove the documents from its server, the University will have the option either to file a counterclaim or quietly remove the material from the students' websites. We hope the University realizes the importance of these students' actions and weighs its options carefully. If a court finds the material to be copyrighted, the University should take it off its server, but until then, the administration should not force students to remove the information simply to avoid controversy.