Wireless Voting Still a Long Way Off
WI TH THE WIDESPREAD ADOPTION of smartphones and the use of mobile strategies in U.S. presi- dential campaigns, could there
come a day when Americans vote wirelessly?
That question was posed to a panel of
mobile-campaign experts during a recent
webcast. Their consensus: Not for a long time.
Considering that much voting in the U.S. is
still done with paper ballots, electronic voting via
wireless devices “is a long ways away,” said Katie
Harbath, associate manager of policy for Face-
book. Delegates to the Iowa Republican Caucus
in February voted with pen and paper, she noted.
Scott Goodstein, founder and CEO of Revo-
lution Messaging, agreed, saying that elec-
tronic voting had caused problems in previous
elections. The U.S. is not as advanced as other
countries in using the technology, he said.
Darrell West, a vice president at The
Brookings Institution, pointed out that the
tiny nation of Estonia likely has the highest
electronic voting rate of any country.
Clark Gibson, professor of political science
at the University of California, San Diego,
said Americans are concerned about keeping
their votes a secret, making the use of wireless
voting unlikely anytime soon.
He noted that mobile banking is catching on
in the U.S., with customers using
smartphones for cash transfers and
other types of transactions. But
that works, he explained, because
banks have insurance that protects consumers
from fraudulent transactions.
He pointed out that “there’s no real insur-
ance from fraudulent votes.”
In a move that has alarmed some
privacy advocates, the FBI has be-
gun scouting for a tool that will al-
low it to gather and mine data from
blogs and social networks, including
Facebook and Twitter.
The goal is to keep on top of
breaking events, incidents and
emerging threats, the agency said
in a recent request for information
(RFI) sent to IT vendors.
The FBI said it’s seeking a “secure,
lightweight Web application portal
using mashup technology.”
According to the RFI, “the applica-
tion must have the ability to rapidly
assemble critical open-source in-
formation and intelligence that will
allow [FBI analysts] to quickly vet,
identify and geo-locate” potential
threats to the U. S. The tool must
also allow users to automatically
search and scrape data off sites
based on specific queries.
Social networking “is rivaling 911
services in crisis response and re-
porting,” the RFI said.
In an Associated Press report, an
FBI spokesman downplayed poten-
tial privacy issues, saying the system
would be used only to monitor
publicly available information and
not to focus on spe-
cific individuals or
groups. Still, Ginger
McCall, director of
the Electronic Privacy Information
Center’s Open Government Project,
has called for proper oversight of
— JAIkUMAR VIJAyAN
FBI Seeks Tool
To Keep Tabs on
GE T BREAKING NEWS AT
– Matt Hamblen