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Blockchain voting is the alternative for trusted democratic elections

Digital transformation will eventually make electronic voting backed by blockchain technology one of the main methods for elections all over the world….

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people’s lives, the relationship between governments and citizens, and the entire world economy, and of course, it has had a major impact on the United States presidential election.

Due to social isolation, a large number of American voters opted to vote by mail, which increased vote counting time, led candidate and acting President Donald Trump to judicialize the electoral process with actions in several states, and triggered intense debates about the veracity and legitimacy of the current American electoral system.

Related: Blockchain voting systems could be the future, but current flaws persist

The current voting system in the digital age

Currently, many have proposed “mobile” voting as an alternative more compatible with current times, allowing people to vote without leaving their homes.

We are able to shop online, there are professions that are performed 100% remotely — which has intensified with the current pandemic — but electoral participation still needs to be exercised in person and in a specific location.

Now, does this not go against the digital age where information and technology serve as facilitators of communication, data transfer and business transactions?

How does one make mobile, or remote, voting possible without compromising the security of electoral participation? The addition of blockchain solutions to the mobile voting process can give confidence to the electoral system and bring peace to the electoral process.

Related: Electronic voting with blockchain: An experience from Naples, Italy

The combination of sequential hashing and cryptography in a distributed structure allows for the protection of voters’ identity and the verification of absolutely all votes entered in the blockchain platform, which can enable secure and transparent voting mechanisms with electoral vote monitoring.

Imagine how good it would be to check if your vote was actually counted for the candidate chosen by you, with the absolute guarantee of the secrecy of your vote? All of this is possible with blockchain technology.

Related: The promise and reality of blockchain’s role in global elections

American electoral jurisdictions and blockchain-based pilot projects

Electoral jurisdictions in several U.S. states have tested mobile-application-based blockchain voting for state, federal and municipal elections — primarily to enable remote voting by military and civilian residents abroad via smartphones and tablets, rather than the traditional and mail, fax and paper methods.

West Virginia, for example, enabled mobile voting via blockchain for its state and federal elections back in 2018. Denver, Colorado; Utah County, Utah; and two counties in the state of Oregon also tested pilot projects for their 2019 municipal elections. In total, 29 counties in five states tested Voatz’s mobile voting app in official elections.

In all of the examples mentioned above, to the surprise of many and according to the authorities responsible for voting via blockchain, the electoral process proved to be easier and more accessible.

For that reason, there are already advocates of the use of blockchain in American elections.

The positions of American political personalities on mobile voting

As a result of the good performance mentioned in the previous paragraphs, there are already notable figures in American politics raising the banner of blockchain mobile voting, such as Bradley Tusk — an American businessman, philanthropist, political strategist and founder of Tusk Philanthropies; Mike Queen — deputy chief of staff to the West Virginia Secretary of State; and Jocelyn Bucaro — director of elections in Denver.

But because we are living in the age of polarization, there are also people strongly against mobile voting, including voting via blockchain. In that sense, we can refer to Jeremy Epstein, a member of the Association for Computing Machinery’s US Technology Policy Committee. Here, it is important to note that Epstein — who was a vice chair of the committee at the time — co-authored an electoral security report titled “Email and Internet Voting: The Overlooked Threat to Election Security,” which was developed in conjunction with Common Cause, the National Election Defense Coalition and the R Street Institute.

The report points to blockchain and internet voting as a target for online attacks by foreign intelligence, saying the transmission of ballots over the internet — including by email, fax and blockchain systems — makes them vulnerable.

Despite the pros and cons, are there solutions already in place that can protect citizens from electoral fraud? How would identity verification be used in the process? What projects and solutions can we think of implementing for identity verification in the voting process, and how would they work?

A blockchain solution that can enable a virtual election in the U.S.

The Voatz application, for example, looks for vulnerabilities and signs of commitment or vulnerability from the start. If the app finds that a smartphone has been compromised, it does not allow the user to vote. If the application passes security tests and third-party tools linked to it, the voter is authenticated on their mobile phone by a fingerprint or facial recognition.

The voter then provides their government identification, usually a driver’s license or passport, and takes a selfie for further authentication. Finally, the voter touches the fingerprint reader of their cell phone to verify that the smartphone is actually in the voter’s hands. In this step, the Voatz application combines the selfie taken by the voter with the image of the identity document and, after rechecking all the registration information given, confirms that the voter can vote.

Voters can use their own additional authentication factor, such as an Apple Watch, Google Authenticator or a YubiKey. And if they wish, they can still receive an SMS message or email as an additional authentication factor.

Cybersecurity in a blockchain vote

Regarding cybersecurity, as “all” software has vulnerabilities, it cannot be ignored that denial-of-service and distributed denial-of-service attacks are legitimate risks in a mobile vote. Therefore, it is important to look for backup methods for possible infrastructure failure in the case of a DoS attack on the mobile voting system.

The blockchain part of the process is the least worrying in terms of security. It is just one component of the voting process, which also includes the steps of identity security, verification and validation.

Blockchain, in the case of Voatz, is for the specific application for which it was built: to distribute voting records so that it is more difficult to attack remotely. It also has cryptographic audit evidence of each transaction.

The main security risk in voting via blockchain is in the interface with the electoral jurisdiction, where the ballot is also printed with a hash or encrypted key on top. After it is stored, it is finally digitized in the election systems and software ballot-reading systems. At this stage, the electoral process “is out of reach” for Voatz.

In addition to cybersecurity issues, another point in a blockchain vote that has been questioned is: How would the voting book be processed and the ballots verified in a blockchain solution?

Taking the Voatz app as an example again, it uses a 32-node blockchain infrastructure on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, each hosting 16 nodes in the United States. Cloudflare is among several companies that provide DDoS-protection services, and Voatz has said that the system employs end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication for infrastructure nodes.

Another blockchain voting solution was used in Colombia in 2016. “Blockchain Voting for Peace” is a case study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development of a referendum held in Colombia back then. In it, the nonprofit organization Democracy Earth Foundation creates a blockchain platform to allow Colombians living abroad to symbolically participate in the plebiscite on the peace treaty between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly known as FARC. The interesting thing here is the possibility of democratic coverage provided by the blockchain.

Key takeaways

From what we have seen so far, it is not an exaggeration to imagine that in the near future, many countries will see blockchain technology as an ideal voting method for a society that is increasingly digitized faster than ever.

However, even if the maturity of the technology is reached and it effectively brings greater legitimacy to the electoral process and veracity to the voting system, will we be able to overcome the cultural barriers and digital illiteracy that still exist in today’s world?

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Tatiana Revoredo is a founding member of the Oxford Blockchain Foundation and is a strategist in blockchain at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Additionally, she is an expert in blockchain business applications at MIT and is the chief strategy officer of The Global Strategy. Tatiana has been invited by the European Parliament to the Intercontinental Blockchain Conference and was invited by the Brazilian parliament to the public hearing on Bill 2303/2015. She is the author of two books: Blockchain: Tudo O Que Você Precisa Saber and Cryptocurrencies in the International Scenario: What Is the Position of Central Banks, Governments and Authorities About Cryptocurrencies?

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/blockchain-voting-is-the-alternative-for-trusted-democratic-elections

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Cointelegraph

Binance Coin reaches 37% of Ethereum’s market cap: 3 reasons why BNB is soaring

Binance Coin (BNB), the native cryptocurrency of Binance Smart Chain, has been rallying after seeing an uptick in transaction volume.

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Binance Coin, the native cryptocurrency of Binance Smart Chain, has been surging with a massive uptick in transaction volume.

Binance Coin reaches 37% of Ethereum’s market cap: 3 reasons why BNB is soaring

Binance Coin (BNB), the native cryptocurrency of Binance Smart Chain and top digital asset exchange Binance, is starting to close in on Ethereum (ETH) in market capitalization.

As of April 12, BNB is valued at $87 billion at the price of just under $600. The valuation of Ethereum is hovering at around $246 billion, which is 2.8 fold larger than that of Binance Coin.

— Joe Grech (@JoeBGrech) April 12, 2021

The technical momentum of BNB has been so strong that it briefly surpassed the volume of the BTC/USDT pair on Binance.

This trend is significant because USDT is the biggest stablecoin in the global market and the BTC/USDT pair is one of the most liquid trading pairs in crypto.

Why is Binance Coin surging so hard?

Binance Coin has been rising due to the three key reasons: an overall uptick in the popularity of Binance Smart Chain, strong technical momentum, and the gap between BSC and Ethereum projects.

Binance Smart Chain transaction volume. Source: BSCScan.io

In recent weeks, the transaction volume on Binance Smart Chain has tripled the volume of the Ethereum blockchain.

Particularly in Southeast Asia, the usage of Binance Smart Chain has been rising, according to Coin98, the biggest venture capital firm in Vietnam that is building a DeFi ecosystem targeted at Asia.

Considering that the price of BNB was much lower than Ethereum until late March, this discrepancy between BNB and ETH likely made BNB a compelling trade.

There is also a big gap in valuations between the Ethereum DeFi ecosystem and Binance Smart Chain, which has been fueling a large portion of the demand for BSC projects.

This has caused the value of BNB to rapidly rise over the past two weeks while ETH has been relatively stable at just over $2,000.

A journalist who covers crypto in China known as “Wu Blockchain” explained:

“BNB broke through an astonishing $600, but Ethereum’s Fees fell to its lowest point in a month. Although the transaction volume of BSC is 3x that of Ethereum, the two are not in a competitive relationship. The top 10 addresses of BNB hold more than 88%, and Eth is 20%. The future of Ethereum depends on the upgrade of EIP-1559 and 2.0. The only two things Binance needs to worry about are the government suppression and hackers.”

Traders foresee BNB to undergo a more explosive rally in the foreseeable future if it breaks out against Bitcoin.

Kaleo, a pseudonymous cryptocurrency trader, said:

“$BNB breaking above this level on the $BTC pair could lead to the type of explosive momentum needed to actually close in on $1,000.”BSC/BTC 1-day price chart (Binance). Source: TradingView.com, KaleoWill the capital rotate back into Ethereum?

However, Kelvin Koh, the managing partner at Spartan Group, one of the largest DeFi-focused funds in Asia, said that for now, he expects the capital to rotate back into Ethereum as BSC projects near the valuation of ETH equivalents.

He emphasized that there is a huge valuation gap between BSC and ETH projects. This gap could be making BSC projects compelling to the market. He said:

“BSC is having its own DeFi summer….so much alpha to be discovered in BSC ($XVS, $CAKE). If you are wondering why Ethereum DeFi coins are lacklustre, its because of the huge valuation gap that still exists between the BSC coins and ETH equivalents. Until this gap closes, money isn’t rotating back to ETH DeFi coins.”

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-coin-reaches-37-of-ethereum-s-market-cap-3-reasons-why-bnb-is-soaring

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Our Man in Shanghai: Scandal as $45M of stolen government funds lost using 100X leverage

A blockchain security company’s future is in doubt after its CMO allegedly lost $45M betting on Bitcoin; Chinese netizens turn the other cheek to Peter Thiel’s warnings, and more

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The Chief Marketing Officer a blockchain security company has been charged with embezzlement; Peter Thiel calls Bitcoin a ‘weapon’ of China (but no one cares), and CZ’s net worth rises to $1.9 billion.

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Our Man in Shanghai: Scandal as $45M of stolen government funds lost using 100X leverage

Blockchain security company Beosin has been the focus of a major scandal after its Chief Marketing Officer Gao Ziyang was taken into custody and charged with embezzlement of state-owned assets. He is alleged to have been using government funds to unsuccessfully short BTC, resulting in a massive liquidation of over 300 million renminbi, or $45 million dollars.

Beosin, also known as Lianan Tech, had a working relationship with Chinese authorities and was helping them investigate fraudulent fundraising schemes. After the seizure of funds back in 2020, Beosin was tasked with storing and selling the assets, to be later returned to the state treasury. Instead of selling the assets, CMO Gao Ziyang allegedly opened a short position in late August, hoping to increase the size of the positions for personal gain. At the time, BTC was trading around $12,000.

Authorities say that records obtained from OKEx show the position began using 10x leverage, before increasing to 100x, and eventually ended up in liquidation. They began to ask about the whereabouts of the funds, before finally realizing that the assets were no longer in the wallet. Online, people have marveled at the age of Gao Ziyang, who was described as in his twenties. The future of Beosin, which was once regarded as a credible blockchain security company in China, is now in serious doubt.

Peter Thiel’s Bitcoin claims ignored

On Wednesday, PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist, Peter Thiel warned that the Chinese government may be using Bitcoin as a “financial weapon” to undermine the stability of the U.S. Dollar. The reaction was quite muted, as only 30 comments responded to the story on Sina Finance, a social media account with over 23 million followers. One of the top comments simply pointed out that “Bitcoin wasn’t invented by China” while another comment simply stated “Impossible”.

Binance billionaire

On Thursday, Binance founder Zhao Changpeng, better known as CZ, appeared as #1664 on Forbes’s annual billionaire list. His net worth is now listed at $1.9 billion, an increase of $700 million from the last list in 2020.

Nanjing Ribensi bought by US company

US Company Future FinTech announced earlier this week that they had agreed to a deal to acquire China-based mining company Nanjing Ribensi Electronic Technology Co. Nanjing Ribensi operates a mining farm that can handle up to 30,000 Bitcoin mining machines. The deal was worth approximately $9.1 million dollars and stipulates that the mining company must generate no less than approximately $2.3 million dollars in 2021.

Blockchain standards accelerated

China’s National Development and Reform Commission called for the accelerated implementation of blockchain standards in a new plan released on April 1. The plan was jointly issued by 28 government departments and also included technologies such as cloud computing, IoT, and big data.

This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/our-man-in-shanghai-scandal-as-45m-of-stolen-government-funds-lost-using-100x-leverage

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CoinMarketCap removes South Korea crypto exchanges from Bitcoin price tracker

The crypto analytics provider also removed South Korean exchanges from the price calculations of cryptocurrencies in 2018 “due to the extreme divergence in prices.”

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“If the prices on South Korean exchanges stabilize, then we will add the data back in, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said a CoinMarketCap spokesperson.

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CoinMarketCap removes South Korea crypto exchanges from Bitcoin price tracker

Crypto price trackin website CoinMarketCap has removed many South Korean exchanges from its calculations for the price of Bitcoin as the coin dipped under $58,000 again.

As of today, CoinMarketCap’s Bitcoin price tracker shows no data from major South Korean crypto exchanges including Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit. The website uses data from many exchanges to estimate the average price for cryptocurrencies. At the time of publication, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) is $57,721, having fallen more than 2% this morning.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, CoinMarketCap content manager Molly Jane Zuckerman said the removal was due to the premium observed on crypto exchanges based in South Korea. The crypto analytics provider estimates the BTC price to be roughly 6% higher than that on other exchanges.

“If the prices on South Korean exchanges stabilize, then we will add the data back in, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said Zuckerman.

The last time the price tracking website took similar action was in 2018, when CoinMarketCap announced it had “excluded some South Korean exchanges in price calculations due to the extreme divergence in prices from the rest of the world and limited arbitrage opportunity.”

During roughly the same time three years ago, the price of XRP was falling significantly after reaching an all-time high of $2.96 on Jan. 2. However, the token is looking bullish today, having briefly surpassed $1.00 for the first time since 2018 after it rose more than 20% in the last 24 hours. The price has since fallen to $0.9694 at the time of publication.

CoinMarketCap said only its Bitcoin price index was affected today, given the large volume of the crypto asset on South Korean exchanges. Last month, the volume of transactions in the South Korean digital currency market — driven in part by the price of BTC reaching an all-time — briefly exceeded the daily average transaction amount of the country’s stock market.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/coinmarketcap-removes-south-korea-crypto-exchanges-from-bitcoin-price-tracker

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