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Re: [Membership] [Comment-Mac] privacy and voting
Kent Crispin wrote:
> The MAC is to be commended on an excellent set of proposals. I have
> only one comment, concerning the following point:
> "8. Privacy concerns should be foremost in the collection,
> safeguarding and use of a Member's data. Except as may be required
> by applicable law, no Director, officer or Member of ICANN shall be
> permitted to use such personal data for commercial or other private
> purpose nor shall any Member's individual vote be made public."
> There is an unavoidable trade-off between privacy and public trust,
> and I think the concern about privacy here, though understandable,
> is overblown.
> Consider one extreme: you say nothing at all about the members; you
> post candidate information, announce the vote, collect ballots, and
> then announce the results. It is difficult for the public to tell if
> the votes were even counted, or if there was even a membership who
> voted. It is also very difficult for a member to verify that the
> vote was counted correctly, or that their vote was recorded
> correctly. Under such circumstances conspiracy theories will
> In order for a vote to be trusted, there has to be trust in the
> mechanism. Given the international character of the membership, the
> already existing widespread miasma of distrust, and the different
> cultural/political expectations, it will be very hard to come up with
> a secret ballot system that everybody thinks is fair and trustworthy.
> It is a hard problem, an acceptable solution will involve significant
> expense, and even then people won't trust it.
> OTOH, if you give up some of the privacy, you get in return a very
> much more robust, open, and trustworthy system:
> It is my opinion that voting, at least initially, should be done by
> email roll-call votes, with all the individual votes posted on a
> public web site. This is essentially equivalent to a roll-call vote
> in the US congress, or a show of hands in a small organization.
> There are several reasons for this:
> 1) public roll-call votes are very much more resistant to voter
> fraud than secret ballots.
> 2) email is the cheapest, most ubiquitous form of online
> participation, and certainly almost every at large member of ICANN
> will have email access.
> 3) an international email vote will be *very* much less complex and
> *very* much cheaper than equivalent paper-mail voting.
> 4) public posting of the individual votes means that the world can
> verify the count. Also, any voter can look at the web page and
> verify that his or her vote was tallied correctly. This almost
> totally eliminates several possibilities for voter fraud.
> The argument for secret ballot is that it eliminates the possibility
> of retaliation for a vote. It also prevents certain social strains,
> for example, when you vote against someone you are friendly with.
> But, on the other hand, legislative bodies have open roll-call
> voting, and they deal with these problems every day.
> So I'm not sure that these problems are worth the cost of maintaining
> a secret ballot. Many, many organizations get along fine with
> roll-call, or show of hands, voting, and ICANN could do so just as
> In summary, while in theory a secret ballot is preferable, in
> practice the benefits are not that great, and to me the robustness
> and simplicity of an online rollcall vote are substantially more
> important. After things settle down, and people have more confidence
> in how things are run, a secret ballot may be a good idea. But
> initially, I think votes should be public.
> Kent Crispin "Do good, and you'll be
> firstname.lastname@example.org lonesome." -- Mark Twain
I agree with and support Kent's comments and suggestion.
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