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Experts estimate Swiss may vote online within 15 years

Information technology experts believe that Swiss voters may be able to cast their ballots via the Internet within 15 years. But they warn that public confidence in online polls must first be gained through watertight security.

This content was published on September 7, 1999 - 16:57

Information technology experts believe that Swiss voters may be able to cast their ballots via the Internet within 15 years. But they warn that public confidence in online polls must first be gained through watertight security.

Experts from the Federal Institute of Technology, discussing the issue at a symposium in Zurich on Tuesday, underlined the many difficulties of such a project.

They said that online votes and referendums were much more complex and difficult to carry out via the Internet than online banking, which was now considered to be generally safe.

They listed a number of specific problems to be solved:

-- only registered voters must have access to the online vote.

-- measures must be taken to prevent multiple vote casting.

-- all possibilities of manipulating final results or blackmail must be eliminated .

-- privacy must be guaranteed and it must be impossible to find out who cast which vote.

The experts said that current research was pointing toward a system whereby all data would be encrypted. Only final results would be announced and published as regular data.

Researchers said that, for reasons of security, polls would probably be carried out by a system of multiple computer servers, rather than just one central machine.

Public trust in an online voting system was the key to future Internet use, researchers said, suggesting that politicians engage in a public debate on the issue.

The experts warned against “Internet euphoria” and said that it was unlikely that a watertight online voting system will be ready anytime soon.

From staff and wire reports.

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