Expert developers criticize Russia’s blockchain elections despite their government saying that the mobile voting platform used was a success. Experts disagree and in today’s blockchain news we find out why.
According to Kommersant, the Minister of Digital Development, Mass Media and Communications Maksut Shadayev claimed that the two-by elections held in Yaroslavl and Kursk oblasts had no major technical failures in the three-day period where it was operational. The Central Elections Commission said that they are confident the system’s security was high. The blockchain-powered voting via smartphone and PC became a huge issue in Russia over the past year where it has been used at a local level in Moscow public votes as well as in Nizhniy Novogorod for a referendum.
The government said that it intends to roll out blockchain voting for the parliamentary general elections that are supposed to happen next year and it is using the platform constructed by the telephony provider Rostelcom, which is owned by, of course, the Russian state. The only issue experienced during the elections according to the minister was a minor problem connected with the users trying to access the platform using an outdated web browser.
However, developers criticized the entire process claiming that it is not a proper decentralized blockchain network as it is hosted on the Rostelecom servers. The operators posted the source code on GitHub but the developers commented that the platform exhibits data vulnerability problems and even some said it would be easy to uncover the identity of the voters and to discover how they voted in the first place. The media outlet quoted Sergei Aksenov who is the server software development at FunCorp stating:
“The voting process itself takes place on Rostelecom’s servers. As such, there is nothing to prevent [operators] from […] adding a number of votes, and then rewriting the entire blockchain and getting any desired result. The encryption, electronic signature and data storage mechanisms used would not prevent this at all.”
Other developers also commented that the algorithms used in the cryptographic protection system of the platform are unreliable and that only encryption algorithms approved by the Russian intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, can be used on a state-owned platform. The expert continued to say that the Rostelecom algorithms used in the blockchain voting system conformed to an outdated security standard which can make the entire election turnout wrong.
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