Pentagon lifts election site ban on French ISP
23 September 2004, PARIS - A Pentagon ban slapped on French Internet Service Provider (ISP) Wanadoo which prevented American expats from registering to vote in the November US presidential elections has been lifted, Wanadoo parent company France Telecom confirmed on Thursday.
23 September 2004
PARIS - A Pentagon ban slapped on French Internet Service Provider (ISP) Wanadoo which prevented American expats from registering to vote in the November US presidential elections has been lifted, Wanadoo parent company France Telecom confirmed on Thursday.
The ban, which blocked users of Wanadoo and other ISPs across 25 countries from accessing the website of the Federal Voting Assistance Program (www.fvap.gov), was first revealed Monday by the International Herald Tribune (IHT) newspaper.
The site is dedicated to helping US civilians and military personnel residing overseas to take part in elections, and is managed by the Defense Department.
The Pentagon earlier this week justified the ban as a security measure against abuse by hackers, but it now claims it was the result of a mistake.
France Telecom said it had been given no reason why the ban had been lifted, but said it had carried out tests Thursday morning and it showed that Wanadoo users could now access "certain sites" including that of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the AFP news agency reported.
Tim Madden, spokesman for the Defense Department task force that oversees the Pentagon's computer networks, announced Wednesday that the ISP ban had been lifted and said it was imposed several years ago but had been left in place "inadvertently", according to a report in the IHT on Thursday.
Declining to comment why it was originally set up, Madden said the ISP ban "should not have continued past a certain date".
"For technical reasons that block was not lifted when it was directed to be lifted," he added.
News of the Pentagon ban caused a storm of protest earlier this week, notably from Diana Kerry, sister of Democrat party candidate John Kerry and chair of Americans Overseas for Kerry-Edwards, which is campaigning for a Democrat vote among expat voters, who said she was "outraged" at the move.
"The deadline for filing voter registration applications is less than a month away," she commented. "Had it not been for the diligence of private citizens volunteering to help others obtain this vital information, we may never have discovered this at all."
Three members of the US congress wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld protesting that the ISP ban could result in "the potential disenfranchisement of millions of overseas Americans".
OverseasVote.com, a pro-Democratic site which provides voting instructions, said it had received complaints since early in the year from voters denied access to register.
"Eighty percent of complaints have come in the past two weeks alone, and they come from countries that have the largest populations of overseas Americans", commented the site’s co-founder, Brett Rierson.
Republicans Abroad Europe chairman Robert Pingeon dismissed suggestions that the ban was aimed against Democrat voters. "But I certainly think they could have done a better job explaining the situation," he told the IHT.
Other sites affected by the block included the US Military Tricare healthcare system, according to an Expatica France reader.
Those who could not access the Pentagon site could still register to vote online for the 2 November elections at www.overseasvote2004.com
American Voices Abroad
Republicans for Kerry Europe
Americans Overseas for Kerry
The Overseas Americans Voting Rights Project
[Copyright Expatica France News 2004]
Subject: French News