Blockchain Might Make Voting Worse — Not Better: Crypto Researchers

Three researchers with the Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3) are questioning whether, as some proponents claim, blockchain technology will be able to change the internet voting sector for the better.

In an article published by Business Insider, the scholars argue that while blockchain technology might serve to revolutionize other industries, internet voting might be a sector that doesn’t benefit from the technology at all, and could potentially even be harmed by it.

Potential For Change

The researchers start off by acknowledging that they understand why blockchain technology is being considered as an option to optimize internet voting. There is little doubt in the fact that the cryptocurrency world has attracted billions of dollars for legitimate reasons and that it has clear potential to revolutionize everything from the global payments sector, to logistics, to retail, to land ownership rights, among other sectors.

The immutable nature of blockchain means that one would naturally consider the fact that elections might be less susceptible to fraud if the technology is utilized. However, the three researchers argue that the basic issues with internet voting cannot be addressed, even by blockchain.

It’s Too Broken

While voting from a smartphone seems like a logical technological development, many cybersecurity experts have pointed out that it’s much more complicated than one might believe. While the convenience of online voting might lead to more participation, many in the cybersecurity world come to the same conclusion as Ron Rivest, a professor at MIT and board member of Verified Voting. He said, “Voting is too important to put online.”

Blockchain technology is known to be extremely secure, but the researchers point out that this doesn’t mean that most hardware and software are not themselves vulnerable, security-wise. Of course, this doesn’t even take into account the fact that internet outages occur, as well.

Security experts are still working to understand the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  The fact that foreign governments and other adversaries will exploit every technical vulnerability possible to influence an election certainly doesn’t bode well for internet voting, even if it implements blockchain to maintain transparency.

In fact, the fact that blockchain is so secure might actually work against it. While it might sound counterintuitive, consider this: just because the blockchain is secure, that certainly doesn’t mean that the computing device used to vote in the election is hack-proof. If a phone is infected with malware that switches your vote at the last minute, the blockchain will record the vote safely, but it will obviously not be the right vote. As a result, the entire election could be compromised in this manner.

There is also the possibility of vote buying to evolve to a new level, given the anonymity and decentralization of blockchain technology. This shouldn’t be downplayed, as there have been elections where votes have been influenced for less than the cost of a tank of gas.


Source
Author: Neil Mathew
Front Image Credit: Image from Shutterstock

Russia’s Pension Fund Eyes Blockchain to Prevent Labor Abuse

Russia’s FIU pension fund will use blockchain technology to integrate all of its information into a distributed registry and will prepare proposals to integrate all systems into a single platform, according to Izvestia. The fund believes it will cut costs for servicing and storing significant amounts of data.

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The technology will also provide more transparency to labor relations agreements and help protect workers from having their rights violated by negligent employers, which experts have cited as a pervasive problem.

Data to Move to Distributed Databases

The FIU currently houses employers’ data about insurance premiums and tax deductions on centralized servers. Once the distributed ledger technology is in place, all information will be stored on distributed databases.

Users will be able to record all agreements on the distributed ledger, and it will not be possible to edit the information retroactively.

Dmitry Medvedev, a government chairman, said in June that the digital labor books will consolidate labor relations work electronically from 2020.

Improved Labor Contracts

FIU said the use of smart contracts in labor relations will prevent compulsory exclusion in paper form.

Blockchain technology, the FIU noted, will enable information to be distributed concerning employment contracts between employers and certifying centers. This will protect citizens from illegal employment contracts as well as save the cost of servicing and storing large amounts of data.

Alexander Shcherbakov, a professor in the Russian Academy of Science and Technology’s Institute for Public Administration and Management’s department of labor and social policy, said labor violations are widespread among small- and medium-sized enterprises in Russia. New technology will enable such situations to be monitored.

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Employers often violate employee rights as soon as employees apply for a job, through to when they are dismissed, Shcherbakov said.

More than 465,000 appeals were filed in the past year from citizens concerning labor violations, according to Rostrud.

Experts have noted that smart contracts will change the relationship between legal entities and individuals. The contracts will be more transparent and help free people whose activities are impacted by the termination of agreements.

Also read: The Russian military is building blockchain research lab to combat hacks

Digital Economy Emerges

The transition to the digital economy is increasing, the FIU noted, encompassing more services, including tourism, transportation logistics and network trade. The pension fund, for example, has included Airbnb, Saloodo, Alibaba, Amazon and others.

The FIU’s digital platform should reduce the fund’s transaction costs and provide for the proactive digitalization of the country’s economy.


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Author: Lester Coleman
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US Government Grants $800K to Blockchain Researchers

The U.S. government will help fund a distributed ledger platform being developed by researchers at the University of California-San Diego.
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Subhashini Sivagnanam, a researcher and software architect with the Data Enabled Scientific Computing division at the San Diego Supercomputing Center, won $818,433 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop the Open Science Chain (OSC), a proposed distributed ledger which will help researchers efficiently access and verify data collected through scientific experiments, according to the NSF’s website.

NSF, a long-standing scientific organization, serves as a key conduit for research initiatives in the U.S. to tap federal resources. The government organization has funded a number of blockchain projects in previous years, including those focused on different aspects of cryptocurrency incentive mechanisms and blockchain technology use cases.

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Public records show that the project entails “a web-based cyberinfrastructure platform built using distributed ledger technologies that allows researchers to provide metadata and verification information about their scientific datasets and update this information as the datasets change and evolve over time in an auditable manner.”

Simply put, the network would constitute a living – and digital – catalog of their work, growing as more information is developed and added. Researchers will be able to better trust the data they are examining, according to the abstract.

The grant will begin on Sept. 1, 2018, and carry through until Aug. 31, 2021, according to the award letter.


Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

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Author: Nikhilesh De
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