In addition to social distancing measures, the European Parliament has developed an electronic voting application. Called iVote, it only works on iOS and iPasOS platforms. It also requires registering with iCloud, which some parliamentarians refute, raising the question of the confidentiality of information stored at the firm.
Electronic voting, wanted by Emmanuel Macron in 2017, could benefit from the health crisis we are going through. On the one hand, the French or European democratic bodies demand a vote of the citizens or their representatives for governance, even during a global epidemic. On the other hand, modern technologies allow, more and more, to connect remotely to professional or institutional services. Voting from a distance is therefore no more complicated than filing your taxes online.
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Electronic voting therefore seems to be a tool for the future which responds to a very current problem. Even if some initiatives are cruelly lacking in realism. Here is a good example, reported by our colleagues from Express. The application is called iVote, with this distinctive little “i” that you find in many Apple products (iPhone, iOS, iPad, iMac, iCloud, etc.). Is it a coincidence? No. Because the app only works on iOS and iPadOS, even if the design is not linked to the Cupertino company.
The project management of the application was in fact taken care of by the Directorate General of Internal Policies of the European Union. It was launched with parliamentarians during the month of June to replace, in certain committees, the vote by PDF file, which must be downloaded, printed, completed, signed, scanned … and finally returned. This new electronic voting platform is therefore easier. But it poses two problems.
Incompatible with the OS that powers more than 80% of smartphones
The first problem is that this limited compatibility therefore does not take into account the fact that more than 80% of smartphones in Europe run on Android. Should MEPs equip themselves at Apple to fulfill their democratic mission? It would be curious. The second problem concerns the use of the application. Not only is it only compatible with iOS and iPadOS, but it also requires the activation of an iCloud account for the transmission of votes.
And for that, it is obviously necessary to accept the terms of the conditions of use which imply in particular the conservation of confidential data on the servers of the firm. Czech parliamentarian Marcel Kolaja protested the application, calling it ” bad joke ” “To use it (…), we have to accept that Apple keeps data stored on [ses] servers, whether it’s private documents, contacts, or passwords. ” Marcel Kolaja then alerted his colleagues. And there are many who follow him.
Of course, the parliamentarian enlarges the line. If an iCloud account does indeed keep all of its information (and much more, such as photos, calendar events, Safari browsing history, health information, instant messaging, etc.), this is a default setting. It is completely possible to deactivate the backup of its elements from the configuration menu accessible in any iOS device (but also iPadOS and macOS).
How to guarantee the confidentiality of data?
In fact, the real problem raised by this application is a risk of conflict of interest. The Cupertino company, even if it is not (once again) involved in the development of this application, is the subject of several complex files. There are in particular two investigations which have been opened (in Europe, but also in the United States) for anti-competitive practices over the App Store and the Apple tax. The European Commission also pinned Apple for illegal tax benefits. The firm had to reimburse 13 billion euros.
The question of the parliamentarians led by Marcel Kolaja is then the following? How can we guarantee the confidentiality of data stored on Apple’s servers, when this is the first involved in certain votes of the European Parliament or in certain investigations of the European Commission? False, a spokesman for the Parliament explains that it is a temporary solution “to respond” to the current circumstances “, that the Union has not” had the time to focus it on d ‘other platforms’. However, he ensures that “the votes remain secret”.
Source : L’Express