I’ve just finished listening to Bob Mackin’s excellent story about the BC Rail scandal that was posted on CKNW’s website yesterday. Right when I’m finished, I came across Shirley Bond’s announcement that the Province of BC wants to convene a panel on the potential of Internet Voting. My first reaction to this story was that it was a distraction- look at the airplane!
Put simply, the potential of Internet voting is that there isn’t a potential- end stop. As a technical architect who has specialized in designing large-scale corporate and government technical infrastructures I can say – without reservation – that it would be impossible to build an infrastructure secure enough to protect our democracy.
Just look at who has been hacked in the past- banks, governments, corporations, the CIA. Then, think about the scandal behind the Diebold voting machines in the US- they were proven to be entirely insecure. The difference with online voting is that it would have exponential risks compared to what happened with Diebold.
Why? The answer is simple- to manipulate a Diebold machine, one had to have physical access to the voting machine. Online voting would be accessible to anyone on earth. So, in the online world, a hacker in Timbuktu could potentially effect our election.
And, let’s not forget the denial-of-service attack on the NDP’s last leadership vote. This sort of attack can be conducted by anyone, simply by pointing a few computers to constantly bombard the voting servers with Internet traffic. The easiest way to do this would be through a computer virus that creates a ‘botnet’ with thousands of servers attacking all at once.
Shirley Bond, the Attorney General, isn’t a lawyer- well, she obviously isn’t a technologist either…
This whole situation reminds me of the movie Wag The Dog, where the president gets caught groping a girl scout and his handlers come up with a distraction to get voter’s minds wandering elsewhere. In this case, Christy Clark hasn’t groped anyone- but there are serious allegations of corruption piling up on her doorstep.
What better way to get us to ignore the BC Rail scandal than to throw us into a useless debate about something that isn’t technically possible at this point in history? I’d like to suggest to everyone that we ignore this ludicrous distraction and pay attention to the important issues at-hand. Don’t take the bait…