The European Parliament will briefly enable electronic ballot by email as MEPs are required to work remotely during the coronavirus crisis.
A spokeswoman for the parliament verified today that an “alternative electronic ballot procedure” has been agree for the plenary session that will happen on March 26.
” This voting treatment is short-lived and legitimate until 31 July,” she added.
Earlier this month the parliament moved most of its staff to teleworking. MEPs have because switch to full remote work as confirmed cases of COVID-19 have continued to step up across Europe. Though how to handle ballot from another location has actually generated some argument in and of itself.
” Based on public health grounds, the President chose to have a temporary derogation to make it possible for the vote to take place by an alternative electronic voting procedure, with appropriate safeguards to guarantee that Members’ votes are specific, personal and complimentary, in line with the provisions of the Electoral act and the Members’ Statute,” the EU parliament spokesperson said today, when we requested the most recent on its process for voting throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
” The present preventive measures embraced by the European Parliament to contain the spread of COVID-19 don’t affect legal priorities. Core activities are decreased, but kept specifically to ensure legislative, monetary, analysis functions,” she included.
The spokesperson verified votes will happen by means of email– discussing the procedure as follows: “Members would get electronically, through e-mail to their official e-mail address, a ballot kind, which would be returned, finished, from their e-mail address to the relevant Parliament’s functional mailbox.”
” The outcomes of all votes conducted under this momentary derogation would be recorded in the minutes of the sitting concerned,” she even more kept in mind.
Recently, ahead of the parliament verifying the alternative voting process, German Pirate Party MEP, Patrick Breyer, raised concerns about the security of e-voting– arguing that what was then just a proposal for MEPs to fill and sign a voting list, scan it and send it through e-mail to the administration ran the risk of votes being vulnerable to adjustment and hacking.
” Such a manipulation-prone procedure dangers weakening public rely on the integrity of Parliament votes that can have serious repercussions,” he composed. “The procedure comes with a risk of manipulation by hackers. Generally MEPs can send emails utilizing several gadgets, and their personnel can access their mail box, too. It is easy to come by a MEP’s signature and scan it … This treatment likewise comes with the risk that personally chosen and highly paid MEPs might purposefully permit others to vote on their behalf.”
” eVoting via the general public Web is inherently unsafe and vulnerable to hacking, thus runs the risk of to wear down public rely on European democracy,” he included. “I make sure effective groups such as the Russian intelligence agency have an excellent interest in manipulating tight votes. eVoting makes manipulation at a large scale possible.”
Breyer suggested a number of options– such as parallel postal ballot, to have a paper back-up of MEPs’ e-votes; presence ballot in EP workplaces in Member States (though plainly that would need parliamentarians to risk exposing themselves and others to the infection by taking a trip to offices personally); and a system such as “Video Ident”, which he kept in mind is already used in Germany, where the MEP face identify in front of a web cam in a live video stream and then reveal their voting sheets to the camera.
He likewise suggested MEPs may not discover manipulations even if ballot results were released– as looks to be the case with the parliament’s concurred treatment.
It’s not clear whether the parliament is applying a further back-up step– such as needing a paper tally to be mailed in parallel to an e-mail vote. The parliament spokesperson declined to comment in any information when we asked. “All measures have actually been put in place to guarantee the vote runs efficiently,” she stated, including: “We never discuss security measures.”
Reached for his response, Breyer informed us: “My issues certainly stand.”
Nevertheless security expert J. Alex Halderman, a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan– who affirmed prior to the SENATE hearing into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Election– said e-voting where the results are public is reasonably low danger provided MEPs check their votes have been taped properly.
” Ballot isn’t such a tough issue when it’s not a secret tally, and I take it that how each MEP votes is generally public. As long as that’s the case, I don’t think this is a significant security concern,” he informed TechCrunch. ” MEPs must be motivated to examine that their votes are correctly tape-recorded in the minutes and to raise alarms if there’s any disparity, however that’s most likely enough of a safeguard during these tough times.”
” All of this remains in stark contrast to election for public workplace, which are carried out with a secret tally and in which there’s typically no possibility for voters to confirm that their votes are properly taped,” he added.
NationBuilder probe closed
In further news associated to the EU parliament the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) announced today that it’s closed an examination into the former’s user of the US-based political project group, NationBuilder in 2015.
Back in November the EU’s lead information regulator revealed it had released its very first sanction of an EU organization by taking enforcement action over the parliament’s agreement with NationBuilder for a public engagement campaign to promote ballot in the spring election.
During the project the site collected individual information from more than 329,000 people, which was processed on behalf of the Parliament by NationBuilder. The EDPS found the parliament had actually contravened policies governing how EU institutions can use individual information associated with the selection and approval of sub-processors used by NationBuilder.
The agreement has actually been described as concerning “a natural end” in July 2019, and the EDPS stated today that all data collected has actually been transferred to the European Parliament’s servers’.
No further sanctions have actually been carried out, though the regulator stated it will continue to monitor the parliament’s activities carefully.
” Data protection plays an essential function in guaranteeing electoral stability and needs to therefore be dealt with as a priority in the preparation of any election project,” stated EDPS, Wojciech Wiewiórowski, in a statement today. “With this in mind, the EDPS will continue to keep track of the Parliament’s activities carefully, in specific those connecting to the 2024 EU parliamentary elections. I am confident that the improved cooperation and understanding that now exists in between the EDPS and the Parliament will help the Parliament to learn from its errors and make more informed choices on data defense in the future, making sure that the interests of all those living in the EU are sufficiently protected when their personal data is processed.”
At the time of composing the parliament had actually not responded to an ask for comment. Update: A spokeswoman stated:
The European Parliament has taken into consideration the guidance of the EDPS and has actually put in place the appropriate processes and workflows to guarantee that the IT platforms and data processing operations connected to the 2024 EU parliamentary elections are completely certified with the regulation EU 2018/1725
Likewise, a task has been launched to allow that, in any require tender to contract out services which include the processing of individual information on behalf of the EP, the business will be evaluated likewise trough information defense requirements.
The Data Protection Service of the European Parliament is carefully associated with the establishment of these requirements.