Τετάρτη, 13 Νοεμβρίου 2013

Governing on openness / listen following on Zeu's code (open source software for elections)


#open_government (6:50)
We, as civil society, have nowadays our own systems and methodologies that allows to control power and its authorities.

#Zeus open source software for elections (9:00)
Zeus (description at https://www.usenix.org/sites/default/files/jets0101-complete.pdf) is a, full circle, elections open source software and methodology. 120 elections and 23000 voters have taken place with Zeus in various Greek institutions. It is a browser based procedure, organising voters, votes and results in an open, transparent and efficient way. Anonymity of voters and non identification of votes are effectively answered through cryptography and mathematical models. For example, the electoral committee does not have access to votes, unless in a random way due to a shuffle mechanism: you do not know how you shuffle, but need to prove that you do it correctly. The shuffle is done is such a way that you can show that you still have the same ballots at its output, without linking it with the input. So the votes are anonymised.




#a zero knowledge proof (14:50)
Zero-knowledge protocol is a method by which one party (the prover) can prove to another party (the verifier) that a given statement is true, without conveying any additional information apart from the fact that the statement is indeed true (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-knowledge_proof). And this is what happens with the shuffle procedure we mentioned above. You prove that you shuffled, but you do not show how you shuffled.

#open source principles in elections systems (18:00)
It is of primordial importance to follow open source principles in elections systems development and deployment. In Zeus, source code has its own trajectory with several people checking on it and the procedures around it. It was created out of necessity in the academia, from 3 individuals, programmers and system developers, in a very tight resource basis. Working with cryptography means that you reuse the work of others, for example Zeus was based on Helios voting system. Now more than 50% of Zeus code is rethought and rewritten.

#open source and patents (37:10)
A patent troll (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_troll) can often occur when developing code. It is often that you need an alternative way but people like to collaborate and share ideas.Cryptography is fraught with patents—in fact, the first patents on software were on cryptographic methods. The problem is that the way the system works, patents may end up owned by somebody else than the original inventor. So, instead of dealing with the inventor of a patent, you may have to deal with a patent troll, and this can be difficult for a non-profit organisation. Luckily, you may be able to find alternatives, and people do like to share things they have invented.

#strenthen citizens participation (41:30)
Zeus could be used as a consultation platform, for agenda setting and voting / decision procedures for different reasons and themes. There is an opportunity to run more complex participation projects at national and local level.

#do_miracles with new methodologies for systems develpment (47:00)
Build systems with civil society and more agile, informal methodologies. Voting as a way of keeping up with updated registries. Zeus remains an informal project of grnet,gr that needs to be transformed to an autonomous effort. With a talented team and agile methodologies you can work miracles. As we say in the Zeus team, half in jest, with six persons for six months we can do national elections.

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