A leading data protection expert has warned of future security breaches if the government’s plan to introduce e-voting at a nationwide level goes ahead. Bruno Baeriswyl, data protection commissioner in canton Zurich, urged the authorities to give up plans, announced last April, for online voting across Switzerland. Speaking on the occasion of this year’s European Data Privacy Day at the end of January, Baeriswyl said that current technology could not guarantee that ballots remain secret in votes and elections. He and other cantonal data protection commissioners argued that digitalisation could undermine democratic principles even while online systems help to simplify procedures. “The current systems for e-voting override the secret ballot in votes and elections. But it is imperative that all transactions must always be verifiable in a secure system. As a result, either we have ballot secrecy or we don’t have a secure method,” Baeriswyl said. “And this is highly risky for our democracy.”
… Bryan Fordexternal link, associate professor at the Lausanne-based Federal Institute of Technology, points out that the Swiss technology standards are high, and the country is even at the forefront in some areas of IT security.
“Yet there is no absolute security,” the data protection expert says. “It is indeed a big challenge to ensure data protection in e-voting,” he cautions.
The computers of individual citizens are a major concern as the e-voting systems in use can’t isolate private computers from the entire user network. A computer that has been infected with malware could infringe the secret ballot.