Bets urged to send representatives during source code review
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 1, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of the House of Representatives yesterday urged political parties and presidential candidates to send representatives to participate in the review of the source code of software to be used in the 2016 automated elections.

Reps. Elpidio Barzaga of Cavite and Winston Castelo of Quezon City made the call after Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista earlier opened the source code of Smartmatic Inc. for review months before the elections to give concerned parties adequate time to inspect it.

A source code review lecture was conducted by the Comelec earlier this month to kick off the opening of the code at the De La Salle University (DLSU) grounds that will be open for seven months.

“Source code review is a great thing that political parties should take advantage of,” Castelo said. “There are all these accusations that the source code can be hacked but no one participates in the source code review.”

“Now that the review is being held before the elections, it is imperative that political parties send their representatives to test the system and put their doubts to rest once and for all,” he added.

Barzaga said while the source code was made open to the public for review in 2010, hardly any political party participated. It was only after elections that the political parties started questioning the veracity of the source code.

He said the review of the source code by experts to be sent by political parties or candidates will add credibility to the 2016 elections and may possibly detect vulnerabilities that can be corrected this early. And if voters see that the source code cannot be compromised, then they will have confidence in the integrity of the results of the elections, and tension during the polls will be lessened.

“The 2016 presidential elections would likely be a close contest, so the elections should be credible and be seen as credible or losing candidates may bank on some purported flaw in the system,” Barzaga said.

Representatives of eight accredited political parties and/or concerned groups may visit the source code review center at DLSU which will be open five days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Among the accredited groups are the Liberal Party, the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Lakas-Christian and Muslim Democrats, Unang Sigaw, Bagong Bayan Party, led by former senator Richard Gordon, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, and Center for People Empowerment in Governance.

‘Impossible to hack’

Smartmatic has assured the public that the source code is impossible to hack. Smartmatic technology manager Marlon Garcia said the source code has encryptions in itself at all levels. 

“We always put the security measures required. In every election, we change our security features. So if any person finds out (about) the previous implementation, it becomes useless by next election,” Garcia added.

He also assured the public that the review site itself is also secure. There is only a particular workspace for the source code reviewer, who cannot copy or print files. All networks are disabled to ensure that no one can take information. There is also a CCTV camera to monitor the reviewers’ movements.

At this time, the accredited groups can review the base code. Another review of the source code with names of candidates will be open for review in February 2016. A parallel review is also currently taking place for the certification of SLI Global Solutions.

ACIRC BAGONG BAYAN PARTY BARZAGA CHAIRMAN ANDRES BAUTISTA CODE COMELEC DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY ELECTIONS NBSP REVIEW SOURCE
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