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It’s very rarely that I talk about the intricate details of my research. It is not because of the potential business value. It is instead mainly for the reason that my research only truly began two days ago šŸ™‚

My research is about bringing general election to the people via the Internet. So people do not have to travel back to their voting precinct just to mark a ballot. So that people will not be complaining when EC decides to have by-election on a weekday, like yesterday Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai tri-election. So that the Parliament no longer need to allocate RM100 million for election conduct, or for EC to employ nearly 200,000 election workers. There are plenty of motivations for having election conducted via Internet. At a more personal level, my research in this area is motivated by the prospect that I do not have to queue, and be stucked in traffic jam just to mark a ballot. Life is too short for such a thing. If a more convenient way exists for us to exercise our democratic rights, why not use it?

Election is interesting. It is the best type of contest, even better than a game contest such as Go and Shogi. Contestants in an election are actually racing against each other, trying to capture as many voters as possible.

It was a painful admission on my part, but an election contest is really better than a Go contest. While a Go contest brings out the character of the contestants, an election brings out the true character of a nation, the contestants personalities, the qualities of the voters and may even determine the fate of our children! I have none for now (or so I think?). Anyway, not being a Christian, I dont believe in Original Sin, but election is one case where the children en masse may have to suffer for the sins and foolhardy of their fathers, en masse. For that reason, I maintain that election (Parliamentary and State) are the best type of contests.

What are these true characters, and qualities? For instance, it could be our basic human survival instinct, despite masking ourselves as Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, atheists etc. Despite wearing the Malay, Chinese and Indian skin. Yes to bribery, yes to badmouthing, yes to selling principles, yes to holier-than-thou, yes to fraud. Yes, yes, yes. Votes are the One Ring, we are all Gollums.

Now that Internet voting is such a cool thing, why has it not been implemented? Well, actually it has been implemented in (astonishingly) Estonia. This one country that has been escaping from my mental image of the globe is now having 80% of my attention. Their citizens can vote via Internet, wohoo. Voting 2.0 if you want to call it šŸ™‚ Well, actually, voting is the right of all residents of Estonia, not limited the citizens.

Utilising computer and Internet for voting is very tricky, due to its unique requirements. The most tricky of the requirements is ensuring fail-safe vote secrecy. No one is supposed to know who you had voted for ! And technology must be implemented to ensure that the voter can not prove to anyone that they had voted for this or that person. This is to discourage vote-buying (or vote-selling) and intimidation.

This requirement can be satisfactorily met by the traditional election. An individual voter enter the voting booth by him/herself, mark the ballot and cast it. Of course, RPK claims that vote buying still exist with the buyer instructing the voters to record their votes using handphone and show the image captured to receive rewards. Even if that is true, at least in traditional voting, such activities do not scale. In Internet voting however, such practice can be done in large scale, by distributing software that automates the recording and reporting of all activities of the voters. Potential for large-scale fraud is tremendous, which is why Internet voting must be subject to more strict requirements.

Internet voting is impossible, some people are crying! However Avi Rubin said, there is hope for Internet voting, when voters’ PC can be trusted, and trusted path can be established between the users and the voting servers.

Seriously, when will PC ever be trusted? We’re not just talking about being free from virus, or Trojan. We’re talking about even deeper level, i.e. secure boot, secure OS etc. Luckily for us, there is an effort started by Trusted Computing Platform Alliance to produce specification for a hardware that can be hard-mounted on our motherboard to facilitate this. This is the basis of Trusted Computing really.

My job is marrying Trusted Computing and Internet voting. Certainly not the first and last academic attempt at this. I’ll try to fit my research into Malaysian election scenario, to have a more personal flavour.

Ah, I think I have written long enough. Suprisingly, effortlessly. If only I could write thesis as easily as I write blog posts, I could have a long list of academic credentials by now šŸ™‚ But of course, there is no academic quality in blog posts whatsoever. There is however, an eerie feeling that more people will read this post than people who will read my final thesis.

Which begs the question, what is the point of writing thesis?

begq

ps/: The time will come when there is no trust among humans, only between humans and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and trust among TPM-selves.

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What happened to YB Elizabeth Wong must be a nightmare. Technologies have been (mis)used to take private photo of her, and to distibute it online. I hope she will not resign over this matter, because it would encourage more of such practice. I am approaching this matter from security point of view, not political.

My stand on this is not dissimilar to Exclusionary Rule in the U.S. , which says that evidence gathered in violation of defendant’s constitutional right is inadmissible for criminal prosecution in the court of law. This is to discourage illegal conduct of investigation by removing all benefits that it would have brought.

Applying to this case, we can discourage the practice of such trespass on privacy by doing the same – remove all benefits it has, hence all reasons to do it in the first place.

Everyone is actually exposed to privacy attack as more and more data of us is circulating on the internet. For those who do not realise how horrific and terrifying this is – please read the book Schneier on Security. It discusses about security in general, without delving too much into technicality and is highly suggestable to everyone. I love the chapter on privacy most of all, this is one of the motivations for me writing about it myself now.

How about Facebook and all its features, tagging etc ? I just found this wonderful link on how to manage Facebook privacy settings. Consider paying it a visit, at least!

ps: I am a Bukit Lanjan resident, at least for another week.

Suggested reading:

schneier

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I took a brief look at the 2009 National Budget and Economic Policy Brief by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on his website. What caught my attention in particular was his intention to review the RM15.2 billion High Speed Broadband (HSBB), should Pakatan Rakyat get into power.

Nooooooo !!! I want 50 Mbps Internet connection speed !! šŸ˜¦

It’s funny that the budget claims that it “includes understanding the successes of Taiwan, Korea..” when laying out fiber optic network was exactly what Korea did. And near bankrupt they were for that. But from there, contribution from information and communication sector helped to propel them from the worst Asian country hit by 1997-1998 financial crisis to among the most advanced countries in the world.

OK, HSBB is a small part of it, the budget plan probably follows Korea in other aspects.

A commenter on DSAI blog said that he knew of a bumiputra who could deploy WiFi in a campus of 500 students for just RM30,000 to compare with HSBB cost. Of course WiFi deployment is cheap. Any wireless deployment is cheap. Even for a metropolitan area networkĀ such as Wimax, all that’s needed is toĀ rent spectrum from MCMC, rent communication towers, put up antenna and setup base stations. Well, that’s oversimplified but at least there’s not much digging, burying, civil work and planning.

But is it justified to allocate RM15.2 billion for this? I have no idea. I dont know how rich or poor Malaysia is now. But I’m sure aĀ superb communication framework will attact a lot of investors, encourage tourism, improve academic excellence, reduceĀ urbanĀ stress, provide platform for other initiatives such as “Safe City”, promote IT while reducing dependencies on other industries and so on …

There’s really no bad side to fast internet speed at all !

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One post criticising Lim Kit Siang brought so many visitors to this blog. LOL. Whoever wants to start a career as blogger or journalist should consider politics as the field. Malaysians are hungry for any written material that is related to politic. I would think this trend to continue until end of the year as many things are coming.

visits-500.jpg

What is BN going to do?

Party election.

Witch-hunting.

Removal of pro-Malays policies.

Hot debates in Parliament.

Hehe, those graduates in politics have easy chance to make name and money.

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Yawn.

I am one of the many people who are now calmed down after Lim Kit Siang publicly apologised to Perak Royals. As for me, I’ll be getting back to my daily boring life.

3 hours of sleep lost because of this whole thing. My family came from Perak and I was schooled there for 5 years. While I dont associate myself with Perak anymore, I still care for it in some ways.

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While the BN coalition was dumb for making so many miscalculations prior to the election, Lim Kit Siang and the whole DAP top leaders are way dumber for making stupid moves after the success handed to them. It’s like a game of Wheel of Fortune. DAP outsmarted BN in every round and won a Ferrari. And a minute after, perhaps drunk in victory, DAP press the pedal too quick and fall down the cliff. And while BN can still do some studying to be smarter and win the next game, DAP is just dead.

I’m saying this in response to Lim Kit Siang post titled No DAP CEC Mandate for Pas Menteri Besar in Perak, where he called for Perak DAP to boycott the swearing in ceremony of new Perak MB, Nizar Jamaludin from Pas who was handpicked by the Perak Sultan himself. Even worse, PAS, DAP and PKR had actually agreed to respect the Sultan’s choice whoever he would be.

What could possibly get into the great mind of Lim Kit Siang that he announced not being approval of the Sultan’s decision? The best explanation for this is, DAP fears that they would lose Chinese votes like they did before by associating themselves with PAS. Now tell me, how is it that DAP is a party for all when all they care about isĀ keeping Chinese votes? How about Malay voters who also put them where they are now, in the government of Selangor and Perak?

Abolishing NEP is still fine, if they come up with new policy to help everyone regardless of his of her race. But going against the Sultan is only something that the leader of Dumb Action Party would do.

Now please retract your words and just show up at the ceremony tomorrow.

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Sorry for the lack of update recently. It was not because I was away from Internet, instead I was close to it every minute. However, I was busying myself with reading almost every accessible articles on the Internet regarding Malaysian Election 2008 and had no time for anything else.

I will not be commenting anything since there’s huge amount of reviews available online. However, I wish to express my personal hope that UMNO, MCA and MIC will revamp, rebrand and renovate themselves to become stronger. This time around, they were caught off guard, much to be blamed on their ignorance of what was going on in the cyber community. In brief, the opposition criticised BN, exposed corruption and these were without rebuttals from BN. Simply commenting “Bloggers are liars” of course was too weak to counter the growing calls for dislike for the government.

I hope to see more pro-BN bloggers who can match Jeff Ooi, Tony Pua, Elizabeth Wong, Ahirudin Atan, Haris, Raja Petra and so on. At the moment, I can name tens of opposition bloggers and none of BN. Personally, I think debates should happen. Of course things like unclogging the drain, repairing the roads need no debates. But other matters like human rights, ISA, press freedom, national security, race, religions, NEP, economy need to be debated at least informally on Internet.

Otherwise seeing one side of the arguments from the opposition will make the public think that the oppositions are farĀ  brighter and more capable than BN.

Unfortunately, one-sided mainstream media and one-sided cyber activities do not provide the truth that the Malaysians need. This needs to change. Otherwise, election is about comparing the number of mainstream media readers againstĀ blog readers – instead of about the choice of well-informed citizens.

I consider myself well-informed since I read both sources. But I didn’t vote. Hehe, I need to change too. Already cant wait for the next election šŸ™‚ I will perform my duty effectively next time.

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