IT entrepreneur: Doubts over e-voting reliability are a political issue

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Taavi Kotka. Source: ERR

Parties raising doubts about e-voting are engaging in self-promotion, IT entrepreneur Taavi Kotka has said, adding it is a political problem, not a real problem.

Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology Raul Siem (EKRE) recently suggested the ID-card based voting be stopped and facial recognition via a voter's phone or other device replace it.

Speaking on ETV's interview show "Esimene stuudio" Kotka said: "We don't have a direct need for that. We have a working system and if we say the system's not trustworthy, we can as easily ask whether our business environment is also trustworthy. This question should be broadened then. If we don't consider the implemented technologies to be sound, then the way business is done today, is not sound either."

Commenting on concerns raised by EKRE and the Center Party, he added: "It is not a real issue. It is clearly self-promotion and a political issue."

Kotka said that there are always people who doubt the reliability of voting, even if they take place entirely on paper.

"There's always a group of people who say they don't believe and so on. But the fact that we are using this technology daily for e-services, signing etc. if we say it is all fake and it doesn't work, we are actually breaking up our own digital society," Kotka said.

Kotka said that first, Siem should clearly phrase what kind of a problem he wants to solve. "This problem hasn't been enunciated yet, so something that doesn't exist is being solved," he said.

Kotka: Ministry of Economy needs to make bigger changes in its IT infrastructure

The National Information System Authority (RIA) identified three similar attacks against the information technology infrastructure in November on three different ministries which allowed criminals to gather personal data.

Kotka said that individuals whose data is now known should not be too worried. He said that no special information history was lost.

Kotka said the incident does not reflect well on the state. However, he acknowledged the officials for the fact that the incident was made public.

"In Estonia, if something like this happens, we tend to make it public so it is a lesson for everyone - not only in the public sector but in the private sector- how to better protect our systems. Most countries stay silent about issues like that," he added.

Kotka praised the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK) which was able to quickly identify what was lost and how much damage there had been.

"I would like to acknowledge TEHIK and the administration of the Ministry of Social Affairs because they found out what happened very quickly. This is not like being in an apartment where all the furniture is clearly gone; you still have to look at the logs, analyze what was taken and what wasn't," Kotka said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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