[LINK] Electronic witnessing [was: High Court case Re: Register Online to Vote Should be LLegal]

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Sat Jul 31 12:04:30 AEST 2010

Stephen Wilson wrote:
> Tom, you seem to be advocating no extra investment in security?  ...

No. I am suggesting not burdening the electronic system with an
inappropriate security system designed to mimic paper.

I have experienced this with worker's compensation insurance in the ACT, 
where the ACT Government required me to sign a statutory declaration to 
say how much salary my company paid out.

I suggested instead that I simply send the details electronically along 
with the payment. The electronic payment through the banking system 
would provide sufficient evidence for the electronic document. The 
government responded by saying I could send an electronic
form digitally signed. The logistics of having myself and a JP "sign" an 
electronic statutory declaration made this a very silly idea.

> The AEC might not check handwritten signatures routinely, but I bet they 
> dig them out when it comes to investigating electoral fraud ...

So you have a system which does not detect fraud, but instead might be
used if one is stumbled across? That does not sound a very useful way to
do things.

> Philip Argy's point was that there is no accepted way to even invoke an 
> 'electronic witness' much less create enough forensic certainty to 
> support AEC investigation. ...

My point is that use of such "electronic witness" is not the appropriate 
way to provide the level of certainty needed.

> Digital signatures need not be any any more complex than credit cards or 
> electronic bus tickets. ...

Melbourne seems to be currently experiencing problems with both credit
cards <http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/29/2967687.htm> and 
electronic transport tickets 

Canberra is about to implement the "MyWay" smart card bus ticket system 
<http://www.action.act.gov.au/myway.html>. It will be interesting to see 
how that goes, given that Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne have 
had problems. I would be happy to take a party of Canberra bus 
executives to Istanbul, so they can see how to do it properly: 
<http://www.tomw.net.au/travel/istanbul.shtml>. ;-)

> Surely if we don't do something serious now about e-authentication ...

We can be serious about e-authentication by using technology appropriate
to the job, rather than ones which mimic manual systems and are 
theoretically secure, but do not address real world problems.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au

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