Hebrew soldiers said Goliath was too big they could not kill him. David said Goliath was too big, his slingshot would not miss him. Attitude. Equipped with the correct attitude, our people can view this electoral breakthrough called poll automation, and the generous support of many all over the land, young and elderly alike, as reasons for hope and optimism. With prayer and work (ora et labora) that there are better days ahead, Filipinos will succeed. If we whine, we complain, we bemoan that the Filipinos are beyond redemption, we will fail. Against gloom and doom, we labor and hope that change is within reach, and proclaim that God provides and He will never fail the Philippines!
Justice Antonio Carpio raised the issue of foreign control of the polls after he pointed out the mandate of the Comelec, which is to supervise and administer the election process. Carpio noted that the winning foreign bidder, Barbados-Venezuela Netherlands-based Smartmatic, will have exclusive possession of the public and private keys for the operation of the electronic machines.In response to Carpio's line of questioning, Lead Petitioner Harry Roque reportedly posited that if Comelec grants exclusive possession to Smartmatic, it also cedes exclusive control of the election process:
Carpio, one of the few IT-knowledgeable magistrates in the tribunal, explained that the public key allows access to the main system (or administrator) while the private key is essentially the password for the operation of the individual machines. The precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the polls will count, consolidate and transmit the election results.
Lead petitioner UP Professor Harry Roque told the High Court that it will be Smartmatic which will have control of both public and private keys. During the elections, the private key will be given to the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in the precincts.
However, the BEIs will have to depend on the private keys (or passwords) to be given by Smartmatic. By having control of both public and private keys, the set-up, in essence, reposes to Smartmatic the exclusive control of the election process.
Roque said the scheme amounts to “complete abdication of the function of Comelec” to supervise the polls, which is unconstitutional.
Cryptography: Requirements relating to use of cryptography in voting systems, e.g., use of U.S. Government FIPS standards.
Setup Inspection: Requirements that support the inspection of a voting device to determine that: (a) software installed on the voting device can be identified and verified; (b) the contents of the voting device’s registers and variables can be determined; and (c) components of the voting device (such as touch screens, batteries, power supplies, etc.) are within proper tolerances, functioning properly, and ready for use.
Software Installation: Requirements that support the authentication and integrity of voting system software using digital signatures provided by test labs, National Software Reference Library (NSRL), and notary repositories.
Access Control: Requirements that address voting system capabilities to limit and detect access to critical voting system components in order to guard against loss of system and data integrity, availability, confidentiality, and accountability in voting systems.
System Integrity Management: Requirements that address operating system security, secure boot loading, system hardening, etc.
Communications Security: Requirements that address both the integrity of transmitted information and protect the voting system from communications based threats.
System Event Logging: Requirements that assist in voting device troubleshooting, recording a history of voting device activity, and detecting unauthorized or malicious activity.
Physical Security: Requirements that address the physical aspects of voting system security: locks, tamper-evident seals, etc.What one discovers from a careful study of this comprehensive document is that CRYPTOGRAPHY is essential and necessary to all these aspects of system security and operation. It would be literally impossible to carry out its mission and guarantee that system security if Smartmatic were not given exclusive possession of them.
This happened already once before --in the 2004 SCoRP decision ITF v. Comelec--whose incomplete restitution has left a sour taste in everyone's mouths about Comelec and automation. The Court-ordered recovery of over a billion pesos paid to provider Megapacific in that case has never happened! As a result of the 2004 fiasco over Ben Abalos' Automatic Counting Machines there has developed a justifiable cynicism and distrust of Comelec. Many people are simply unwilling to grant Comelec the benefit of a second doubt in the case of the proposed Smartmatic Automated Election System and Comelec has not done much to win the Public's TRUST since the Garci Scandal of 2004, indeed, insult was added to injury with that slow-motion Maguindanao scandal in 2007 involving the votes of Migz Zubiri and Koko Pimentel, and Mr. Garci Junior himself, the accurately-named Lintang Bedol!
Of course, ANY first attempt to conduct an automated national election involving up to 50 million voters has got to be fraught with pitfalls and challenges. However, I do not agree with Petitioners in the case aforementioned that there is a big risk of an outright failure of election because of a massive and systemic failure in the Smartmatic system software and hardware. Against such a possibility -- say their PCOS disappears and another cannot be delivered in time -- each Board of Election Inspectors is expected to conduct a manual count of the executed ballots and to process their Election Return in the normal way: by submitting it to the Municipal Board of Canvass. They are obligated to do the same any way under RA 9369 except that they could also forward the PCOS-generated E.R. In a sense, manual election operations become the fail-over mechanism should the PCOS machines be unable to do the job on the voters' ballots. The Smartmatic Real Time Information System (REIS) claims to be able to accomodate manually counted and reported Election Returns from precincts without functional PCOS machines.
Some paint a picture of possible widespread inability to operate the Smartmatic PCOS machines; or that these machines will spit out and transmit inaccurate or dishonest election returns that cannot be questioned and corrected. Such an eventuality would be a grave disappointment, of course.
It is easy to believe the speculation that the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo stands to make a hefty commission from the deal, and not much less credulity to think that the FG or similar evildoers may even resort to "wholesale automated cheating".
I guess, I am prepared to believe that certain persons in High Places stand to make money from a seven billion peso contract, but I do not personally believe that Smartmatic Corp. is primarily interested in selling out to some Filipino politician instead of trying to establish itself as a long term leader in a rapidly growing global market for automated election systems. The calculus here is pure greed, since Smartmatic stands to make more money providing secure, reliable election systems than colluding with Filipino cheaters for a small time score.
Accusations have been made that these cryptographic codes in the possession of "foreign companies" will be used to conduct "modernized cheating" or digital dagdag bawas during the transmission and canvassing phase. The main accusation of petitioners is in fact "Comelec has abdicated its Constitutional duty " to conduct the 2010 synchronized national and local elections if it agrees to give Smartmatic Corp. "exclusive possession of the public and private keys" used in the elections.
I believe this characterization to be HYPERBOLIC, if not hysterical. It is equivalent to claiming that one ought not to allow one's Bank to exclusively possess the combination to its own SAFE because then it might cheat one of one's money, or not yield to an audit of the balance on demand.
Exclusive possession of those cryptographic keys by Smartmatic is WISE, as opposed to shared possession with say Virgilio Garcillano and others at Comelec--which strikes me as a singularly idiotic idea.