Medici Ventures Backs Blockchain Powered Voting App Voatz, after MIT Identifies Bugs
Jonathan Johnson, CEO of Overstock and president of Medici Ventures, has voiced his support for blockchain in voting in retaliation to the allegations regarding technologies shortcomings.
Budding technologies faced the ire of regulators when a mobile software app that had been coded to assist in the calculation of total number of votes in the latest Iowa Democratic Caucus supposedly went wrong, forcing the Democratic Party to postpone its public disclosure of election results.
As a consequence of the Iowa Caucus scandal, blockchain powered voting apps Voatz came under investigation by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Voatz is self-proclaimed Internet voting app used in the US federal elections. The researchers pointed out that bugs in Voatz paved way for “different kinds of adversaries to alter, stop, or expose a user’s vote, including a sidechannel attack in which a completely passive network adversary can potentially recover a user’s secret ballot.”
The analysts also decided that the app is not safe, and stated that “our findings serve as a concrete illustration of the common wisdom against Internet voting, and of the importance of transparency to the legitimacy of elections.”
In the meanwhile, Voatz conducted its own study via the CISA Hunt and Incident Response Team (HIRT) to establish if there was proof of specific foul play in the app’s connectivity. HIRT drew the following conclusion:
“HIRT analysts did not detect threat actor behaviors or artifacts of past activities on the in-scope portions of the Voatz networks. HIRT identified some areas where defense-in-depth protections and configurations could be improved to help Voatz’s IT security personnel defend their enterprise network. HIRT commends Voatz for their proactive measures in the use of canaries, bug bounties, Shodan alerts, and active internal scanning and red teaming.”
Johnson voiced in favor of Voatz by saying that it avoids voting scam and guarantees voters privacy. He pointed out that speculations regarding the use of technological innovations in elections have gone to extremes in recent times, causing an anti-tech and anti-learning attitude. Johnson explained how false info affects technological progress:
“I firmly believe this undermines American progress. This false premise is shutting down our pursuit of piloting, testing and developing technologies that not only mitigate risks, but makes voting accessible for populations who cannot physically get to the polls.”
Earlier this month, Votem, another blockchain centric votic startup, has mentioned that there is no clarity regarding the function provided by the app for the Iowa Caucus. Pete Martin, CEO of Votem, disagreed to the use of the term mobile voting.
“Our assessment is that this was not truly mobile voting where a verifiably authenticated voter is casting a verifiable and auditable electronic encrypted ballot that is shuffled and publicly tallied. The Caucus is unique in that the voter’s identity is known, but in most cases the voters identity is separated from their ballot to protect their identity, all of which we detail in our “Proof of Vote” protocol.”