Friday, 13 June 2014

Bitcoin software can replace the ballot box.

Bitcoin is the topic du jour but is at bottom a privacy tool applied to money, an anonymizing security protocol.   Researchers at the University of Waterloo applied it to voting to create a secure and unique vote that can't be traced back by the people who count them.   Participation could jump and corrupt political machines (where present) will lose some grip.  The method can be extended to voting even on parliamentary bills. Why rely on representatives in Ottawa when we can represent ourselves?  (Trick question.)
"The trick to bitcoin might be that it doesn't have to be a currency at all. Maybe cryptocurrency’s fundamental value is as a security protocol—a safe, anonymous, hack-proof network that decentralizes trust and democratizes power. ...  Online voting in its current form— is very vulnerable to fraud, cyberattack, and government corruption. The theory is that the bitcoin security protocol matched with anonymizing software and a totally open source voting infrastructure would solve for a lot of these problems.  Like a bitcoin transaction, the entire process is recorded in the blockchain public ledger, repurposed to verify votes and avoid voter fraud. So instead of placing your trust in a central authority like, say, the ballot counters tallying up hanging chads in Florida, the network is anonymous but transparent, and audited by the crowd.
"Just replace a coin in your head with a vote, and run it the exact same dynamic,"  (Link to story at Motherboard.)
From the source of the source at New Scientist:
(Researchers) "at the University of Waterloo, also in Ontario, realised they could convert a message - for example, a list of codes that securely link voters to their votes - into a Bitcoin address. Sending a tiny fraction of a bitcoin - a small transaction - to that address would allow the holder of that list to store it in the public record without revealing its contents. When they later publish the message for verification, anyone can repeat the conversion to a Bitcoin address and confirm its age by checking the public record.
Faking Bitcoin's public record would be very difficult as you'd need more computing power than the rest of the Bitcoin network combined - a feature that ensures the currency's security".
 One man person featherless biped, one vote.

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