Friday, March 05, 2004

Akron Beacon Journal (Ohio, USA) - Thu, Mar. 04, 2004
Issues delay E-vote rollout is a good overview of some of the security and certification issues. Via Google News Alerts.

There is a fundamental underlying problem.
The equipment vendors are all-American capitalists.
There is a false belief that somehow private enterprise will always provide the best solution thanks to the wonders of competition.
Ford used to say "At Ford, Quality is Job One".
Which of course is baloney. At Ford, as at any public company, shareholder return had better be job one.

Shareholder return is maximized by selling the cheapest product at the highest price.

So Diebold's self-interest as a company is to make the shoddiest machines possible that the market will accept.

Note how this does not align with the interests of the voters.
Now, after several generations of competition this might improve.
However, these devices have to work right the first time.

If these companies were really serious about making good elections, rather than making good money, they would have followed the well-established Threat Risk Assessment procedures and would be constantly striving to improve the security of their products.

However, they are instead doing what companies normally do, which is resist any changes to their product by fighting tooth and nail, accompanied by furious marketing spin.

The promoters of the "market is perfect" theories love voluntary guidelines.
If we still had voluntary guidelines in the automobile industry, there would be only a tiny number of cars with seatbelts.

Companies like revenue.
They don't like changes. Or costs.

If you listen to the tone from the election equipment vendors, instead of saying "isn't it great that computer security experts are guiding us to making our equipment even better" you can see it is more like "oh, what a bother and trouble all these geeky nit-pickers are causing for our important business, forcing us to spend money that should have been profits".
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