At the height of the blockchain frenzy, many evangelists were proclaiming that blockchains would provide solutions to most of humanities problems, and in particular that they would enable secure, online voting. Much of the initial frenzy has died down now, and few blockchain “solutions” have actually emerged. Regarding voting, a few blockchain based schemes have been proposed and some even been trialled. Whether any of these are secure in a meaningful sense is very doubtful, despite grandiose claims by their advocates.
In the book “Why Elections Fail” Pippa Norris argued that there were multiple factors that could explain the flaws and failures undermining elections.
The concept of political representation is traditionally connected to two reference poles: from one side the electoral dimension, from the other side the practices of participation. This linkage, however, is a relatively recent conceptual constraint and was not present in the development of the “electoral method” in the rising American nation: James Madison, for example, described democracy as a troubled system, destined to a quick and violent death.
At a recent launch of a new TV station in the capital, Abuja, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that as well as damaging Nigeria’s reputation broad, fake news was destroying the media industry and sowing national disunity. This is a favourite theme of the Minister. Last year he described fake news as a “time bomb” waiting to explode. Misinformation and hate speech, he said, “threaten the peace, unity, security and corporate existence of Nigerians”.
Over the years the internet has been celebrated for sharing information, disseminating knowledge, promoting freedom and debate, thus contributing to the enthusiastic rethoric of the so-called collective intelligence, a new form of intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and collective efforts of single individuals (Lévy and Bononno, 1997).
With only few days left ahead of the European Union parliamentary elections, the fear of foreign actors trying to influence the democratic voting process has spread rapidly across the continent. On a daily basis, news headlines point fingers at those “bad actors” allegedly responsible for the downfall of the West and at the role that social media plays in the process.
During the March meeting of the European Council there was talk once again of disinformation, the threat it poses (especially when conveyed through social media) and the risk that it could be used to influence the democratic process, both nationally and in the imminent elections for the European Parliament.
The upcoming European Parliament elections are just another vote that could be possibly targeted by malicious activities coming from cyberspace, which could have a direct impact on the integrity of the elections themselves. The US presidential vote in 2016 highlighted the possibility of interference by cyber means, due to the widespread use of digital technology to support election campaigns and the electoral process. We are just at the beginning of a radical transformation of the polity and of the way citizens participate in elections.
On March 12, 2019 members of the European Parliament approved the Cybersecurity Act. It establishes an EU-wide certification scheme for products, processes and services to guarantee they meet common minimal EU cybersecurity requirements.
"Cyber-attacks can be more dangerous to the stability of democracies and economies than guns and tanks”, the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated in 2017. The Cybersecurity Act entered into force on June 27, 2019, as a key step towards further strenghtening the European Union’s posture in cyberspace. The implications of this Act go beyond the mere technical dimension: they directly impact the private sector, the establishment of a single digital market, and the projection of EU as a digital power vis à vis other international actors.