Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Are we making enough of e-democracy??

. Interesting report by Iain Dale on a meeting he attended last night. His comments on the Lib Dems ran thus;

"Willie Rennie was the victor of the 2006 Dunfermline by-election. He is also the head of the LibDems Parliamentary Campaigns team (or so it said on the programme). LibDems are normally very switched in with regard to campaigning. Generally, they "get" what technology can contribute to campaigns. Not Willie Rennie, though. His entire web strategy was to have collected 1,500 email addresses from constituents within two years, to whom he sends a monthly email. He doesn't even post the email on his website (which he shares with the local MSP!). He has not blog, no other web presence and derided those who did. He didn't fancy blogging in case he said something against the party line. I didn't think that would be so much of a problem for the LibDems, but there you go. I have rarely encountered a politician so immune to the opportunities which the internet provides."

Now, rather leaving aside a degree of expected partisan hostility I think there is a interesting question here. Especially since we are opposed to all forms of e-voting or so it would seem...so, comments welcome...

12 comments:

Stephen Glenn said...

Interesting doesn't sound like the Willie Rennie, nor Jim Tolson the MSP, with whom I shared a number of conversations regarding my blog over recent weeks.

To be fair the reason that both said they didn't blog was that personally they said they couldn't find time (of course us bloggers say huh) nothing to do about saying the wrong thing.

Darrell G said...

Stephen,

Maybe that was Iain applying a little bit of spin there...

I picked up on it though because when I raised e-voting it got a distinctly lukewarm response...

Joe Otten said...

What has e-campaigning got to do with e-voting? Where do the issues overlap?

Darrell G said...

Joe,

The meeting was on 'e-democracy' so I think both come under that heading...

Joe Otten said...

That's probably the culprit. Trying to talk about an electronic version of an abstract concept. I look forward to e-ethics. Now why do you appear to endorse the link?

I wonder if, when the steel ballot box was invented, whether people talked about steel-democracy and linked that with the use of steel in campaigning. Or perhaps that was a less confused age.

Darrell G said...

Joe,

I do not 'appear to endorse the link', in fact directly under it I qualify it. If you want to be more specific then I think it could be headed how can we use the internet to improve democracy but that is long-winded...

Certainly, I feel it can be used to aid participation etc, etc...I think it would be worthwhile looking at our stance on electronic voting again; especially in light of the fact that the internet can be made increaseingly secure...

Joe Otten said...

Darrell, the problem is not securing a particular voting system, but knowing that a particular voting system is honest and secure. In a word, the problem is transparency.

The question is not: is this machine capable of storing my vote accurately, but rather: is this machine capable of stealing an election. If the machine is built on a general purpose computer, the answer will always be yes.

Darrell G said...

Joe,

It's possible to steal any election; if you dont beleive me then I call as my chief witness Al Gore.

I think with the proper safeguards in place there is certainly a role for e-voting...

Joe Otten said...

Not a good reason for making it easy.

And how do you know whether there are safeguards in place. Can you see what software a machine is running?

Darrell G said...

Joe,

I do not believe that it is not possible to moinitor the systems that would do this..i am 110% sure there must be ways and means...am not an expert so couldnt name them but still...

Richard Gadsden said...

I am an expert. It's not possible.

Seriously, the way you ensure computer systems are secure is through auditing. If you have auditing of votes then you don't have the secret ballot.

Richard Gadsden, CISSP.

Darrell G said...

Richard,

If you are an expert then I am more than happy to defer to your expertise...

I still think there is are broader issues..for example, I didnt mention it in my article but things like My Society which have potential...