Reply to post: Re: I'm baffled

Voatz of no confidence: MIT boffins eviscerate US election app, claim fiends could exploit flaws to derail democracy

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: I'm baffled

Which was sort of my point - and I'm a bit sad my snark seems to have bypassed my downvoter. I personally have never trusted that anything mobile - or, for that matter, just online - is 100% secure. It is one of those things that is impossible to prove and relatively easy to disprove.

I think what I am saying is that people are being encouraged to transfer (in particular) financial dealings online and on mobile with the promise that it's all utterly safe. The consequences for an individual of a breach in their banking app could be catastrophic, though the consequences for society as a whole are likely trivial.

Conversely, one of the arguments against online electronic voting (which probably uses many of the same frameworks as online electronic banking) is that it is utterly unsafe. In this case the consequences of a breach for an individual are likely quite minor, though the consequences for society could be bigger, if temporary. At the very least you would get another voting opportunity in 2/4/5 years (except for rare things like the EU referendum) and if widespread fraud was proved then I believe most jurisdictions have systems in place for declaring a vote invalid and re-balloting.

I'm aware that paper ballots have their own issues, but we do at least have several hundred years of experience with paper and it is possible (even if it isn't done in every country) for any Joe Bloggs to follow a physical piece of paper along every step of its way from voting booth to tally pile. Once you've clicked that button on that app, who knows what happens to your vote?

Completely stand-alone voting machines could in theory be better - no online connection means that all you have to worry about (apart from the software which could be audited I'd think) is the physical security of the device - but if one of the reasons for online voting is convenience then you don't gain anything if you still have to go to a polling station in order to push a button rather than putting a cross in a box.

Obviously there's a trade-off being made somewhere along the convenient - secure continuum...

M.

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