Just launching - CIVIL will hopefully bring quality journalism back. A new model which will move away from corporate, Ad driven click journalism joincivil.com/about/

@doryandgeoff its not quite that simple, the is a backlash against blockchain coins at the moment. CIVIL is based on this technology.

@Hamishcampbell @doryandgeoff Blockchain doesn't have to be energy-intensive (apparently) but it is still rather unclear what the point of choosing blockchain over conventional databases might be.

@jim @doryandgeoff one of the problems is that the people who start the coin end up with a huge pile's of them so then they have the motivation to push the coin out to increase/keep the value of this private pile of coins. That's one of the resions why we have so many of different "coins" being pushed hard the last few years.

Low energy paths are not tested so hot air for now to keep the whole thing expanding

The tech is interesting.

@hamishcampbell @jim @doryandgeoff most alt-coins are #PonziCoin (see: ponzico.win), but there are some legitimate blockchain experiments

@strypey @jim @doryandgeoff all interesting but "it is still rather unclear what the point of choosing blockchain over conventional databases might be." is a question that need to be asked for these projects. If the answer is just then they are taking up space that needs to be filled by projects.

@hamishcampbell @jim @doryandgeoff one of the key questions when net services and human organization are combined is "who owns the server?"
@hamishcampbell @jim @doryandgeoff the advantage of a distributed database is that everyone running the software owns the server.
@hamishcampbell @jim @doryandgeoff take #NameCoin. #DNS is centralized, so whoever owns the root servers (currently #ICANN) calls the shots
@hamishcampbell @jim @doryandgeoff in #NameCoin, a blockchain replaces the root servers, so no authority can confiscate #NameCoin domains
@hamishcampbell @jim @doryandgeoff then there's ascribe.io, which allows creators to register their work and its #CC license on a blockchain
@hamishcampbell @jim @doryandgeoff ... instead of trying to get all creators to agree on a single entity to host a copyright database

@strypey @Hamishcampbell @doryandgeoff … at which point I start getting quite worried. Even if tech can solve some of the issues around online voting, there are significant social problems with online voting. It seems impossible right now to ensure that a vote cast on a computer is actually done in secret.

@strypey @Hamishcampbell @doryandgeoff Copyright is difficult for different reasons. It is extensively generated, and always contestible, for instance.

@jim @hamishcampbell @doryandgeoff secrecy of voting is not a problem specific to online voting. Postal voting has the exact same issue

@strypey @Hamishcampbell @doryandgeoff That's precisely true but it does not make online voting a good idea. Large scale postal voting is already abused.

The other social issue is trust in the verification. This is very hard to achieve when non-technical people who are inclined to distrust the election process are asked to believe what engineers claim.

Remember in the UK? Or think about the claims of fraud around many recent elections.

@jim @hamishcampbell @doryandgeoff if you want to hack election results, social engineering (eg via FB) is simpler

@strypey @Hamishcampbell @doryandgeoff I'm not sure that is an answer.

In the US, the (successful) attempts to hack electronic voting systems were clearly to design to throw doubt on the result – which they did, even though it also turned out that votes had not been tampered with.

@jim you've raised a number of distinct issues here, and I only have 130 char per posts, so I'll deal with one issue per post (bear with me)
@jim postal voting may be abused (citation please) but it doesn't stop it being widely used, including in local government elections
@jim the need for verification is a key reason why any software used in elections must be free code, so parties can hire tech scrutineers
@jim key question: why do we elect representatives instead of voting ourselves? Because running in-person or postal referenda is costly ...
@jim ... if secure, online voting did work, we could have many elections for different purposes, none of which are worth the effort to crack
@jim influencing who gets to be #POTUS is worth a tremendous amount of money, time etc for a wide range of state and private actors ...
@jim but if there are are many single policy referenda each year, in each town, city, country etc none are as attractive as a target

@strypey I don't see how you arrive at that conclusion. Surely it depends on the nature of the vote? If the referendum is for a community centre to be built, or a massive bridge, then certain actors have definite reasons to manipulate the outcome.

@strypey The USA right now is debating making paper trails a requirement for all electronic elections, on the grounds of security,

If they succeed, then online voting will be hard in the US context. Yet the USA does a lot of the referenda you talk about. Which was the driver for voting booth machines in the first place.

So various things may be possible, but in summary online voting seems especially hard to do safely.

@jim properly designed online voting would be more secure than proprietary voting machines, and could be built to create paper trails
@jim kind of, but not #TheRussianTM, not people who have the resources to crack a free code system developed by experts from many parties

@strypey I would tackle that at the other end: finding ways to create participatory democracy from the ground up. Including through local government.

Open code does not eliminate the whole set of verification issues, at each level.

Yes some elections are more worth hacking than others. But any vuln anywhere calls any election into doubt. CF Netherlands evoting machines being withdrawn for local elections.

@strypey On the local election fraud, see: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lond for instance.

Postal ballots are also open to small scale intimidation, from family members etc.

Postal and online voting are not secret ballots. This is a problem.

@jim so the only workable answer is paper and pen in voting booths?
Josh Benaloh gave a talk on "Elections with both Privacy and Integrity" based on homomorphic encryption. Until I attended this lecture, I had thought privacy and integrity in elections were mutually exclusive. https://crysp.uwaterloo.ca/speakers/20170313-Benaloh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC-rJX0Nmxg @strypey @jim

@bobjonkman @strypey

The issues are not whether encryption can solve the anonymity problem, but whether

(a) there is a secret ballot (social problem with online voting)

(b) the software and hardware are invulnerable to tampering

(c) the population at large are inclined to believe experts saying it is all safe

As to whether paper and pens are the only solution: currently I would they are the *best* solution for *state-run elections*.

All questions which Josh Benaloh answers in his lecture. I found it quite interesting and understandable, even the technical homomorphic encryption parts. And the social concerns (coercion, secrecy) are nicely addressed too. But there's not a single electoral jurisdiction in the world that's applying any of these ideas.

@bobjonkman I'll make the time to listen (not right now).

The practice vs theory is a big issue of course, but I'm struggling to see how online voting can be secret. I'll get back when I've found time to go through it.

@jim @bobjonkman I don't think state-level elections are the place to stress test any experimental voting system, electronic or otherwise.
@bobjonkman @jim in my country, I would put forward non-binding referenda as a better place for testing. Offer a $ prize for proof-of-fraud

@strypey @bobjonkman

Nevertheless, state elections are precisely where e-voting trials / rollout does take place, and the software is not just closed, but basically commodity product built on Windows.

Prizes would need to be for proof of attack. I can claim one for leaning over your shoulder as you vote.

@jim @bobjonkman I think we can agree that this is a disturbingly flawed approach.
@bobjonkman @jim But sadly it seems to have provoked a knee-jerk opposition to e-voting systems *in general*, which is not justified

@strypey @bobjonkman Well, there are many factors involved, but one key point is that nobody wants to pay for elections. In the UK for instance they are run on a tiny budget. They are also used occasionally, and this makes security even harder than normal.

As I say what you seem to be after (really) is direct democracy. That comes in many forms. While online voting might enable it, there are other ways to do. It's also a huge change for most countries, which would need a culture shift.

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@jim @bobjonkman proof of *successful* attack, allowing fraud to occur, true. $ bounties need *very* clear conditions of success
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