Monday, 25 June 2007

ORG report

You can't have missed that ORG have release their report on this years pilots. Unsurprisingly they've declared them a 'threat' to democracy, couldn't have seen that coming could we? A few problems with their reporting method though:

  • The outcome of the report had already been decided, i.e. eVoting bad.
  • Individual reports on pilots are not available, instead we get the edited highlights, i.e. the juicy bad bits, no breakdowns on how each pilot fared. Guess we'll have to wait for the Electoral Commissions report before we get that.
  • Makes recommendations for how to improve the process, whilst slamming the very idea, strange contradiction.
Something occurred to me whilst reading the report though. It's when Jason talks about Opt2Vote using .NET (no not on the client Jason, their solution is ASP.NET it's server side, but let's not let technical accuracy get in the way of a bit of good old MS bashing eh?) and bangs on about how Java is better, and then in a piece about auditing (about how there's no crypto that proves they were audited in the correct order, such as using dodgy hashing techniques). The two are subtle pointers towards... GNU.FREE! This fits with Jason's assertions that the process needs fixing whilst slamming the very idea... get the current round of pilots pulled and get GNU.Free involved.

Having said all that I'd have to agree that a more stringent testing and accreditation regime would be beneficial, perhaps Jason & ORG would like to put in some constructive comment on how this can be achieved? Unlikely.


Tony Kennick said...

Sorry Daniel but the statement about .NET causing problems with users being able to vote is a direct quote from Siobhan Donaghy of Opt2Vote.
Have you asked Jason about individual reports?
I'll be in Bournemouth between Christmas and new year if you want to meet me and find out how open minded I was going into my observations and how little I would object to a system that was openly proven to meet my expectations.

Daniel Gray said...

Hi Tony,

I'm not contesting that there was a problem that originated with .NET (probably wasn't a problem in the framework or CLR itself, that's pretty damn solid 99.99% of the time, also the site couldn't have been well configured if an ASP.NET error appeared at the front end). It was more the section "If Microsoft's .NET was indeed being used on electors' computers as part of the Internet voting process, ORG is suprised that a more cross-platform software technology, such as Java, was not chosen when Government put such high regard on ease of access and convenience" that concerned me. Whilst .NET can be a client side technology it wasn't being used for this for voting over the web, just ASP.NET serving up good old vanilla HTML. It smacked of taking every chance to have a pop.

Unfortunately Jason and I aren't talking much these days since I kept pestering him about why he was still distributing GNU.Free (I've got no problems with him being opposed to eVoting or distributing his own system, just not both at the same time). I'll give it a punt though, the worst he can do is ignore me.

Meeting up between Christmas and New Year sounds great, my email address is on my profile page shoot us over a mail and we can meet up, unfortunately they've closed my old haunt (the Gander), but I think the sports bar above is still open if you want to meet up there.