Online voting involves serious risks

Mr Heng Cho Choon has made his case for online voting ("Time for online voting in the Internet age"; July 26). However, there are serious issues of online security.

If people voted online before a security loophole in the system could be discovered, what would be the consequences? Is it possible to determine whether the electronic versions of the ballots cast reflect the will of the voters? What about the possibility of election rigging malware that could modify voters' selection without their knowledge?

The idea that election officials can protect their computer systems from attacks, when even technology giants such as Google and Microsoft are unable to do so, is unrealistic.

There are many ways an attacker could disrupt the voting process, or cast doubt on the legitimacy of results. The level of security needed to make online voting as secure as paper-ballot voting does not exist yet. A hacked election or, worse, an election in which online voters buy and sell votes, would be a disaster for democratic legitimacy.

Technology has enabled mass surveillance and it is not uncommon for search engines to collect users' data for data analytics,which can be sold. Smart technologies are also exposed to risks. Even cars are vulnerable to hacking ("Jeep hacking triggers recall of 1.4m vehicles"; July 26), as are electronic toys, smart TV, air-conditioners and refrigerators - so what more polling systems? We should not gamble with democracy.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 09, 2015, with the headline 'Online voting involves serious risks'. Print Edition | Subscribe