Introducing Swiss Cyber Storm 2017 Speaker Bryan Ford


Introducing Swiss Cyber Storm 2017 Speaker Bryan Ford

When I introduced the E-Voting Focus at Swiss Cyber Storm, I hoped we could help to ignite a public discussion on this transformation of our democratic process. As I am writing this, I know this public discussion has started and our role is now to add knowledge and information to the discussion.

Since I wrote the announcement in August, we have introduced Thomas Hofer as speaker for the E-Voting Solution CHVote of the State of Geneva, we have introduced Jordi Puiggalí as the speaker for the Swiss Post E-Voting solution. Outside of our conference, Adrienne Fichter has published her book on the SmartPhone democracy that is looking at the various effects that are connected with moving the political discussions online. In the parliament Franz Grüter (Swiss People’s Party), launched an initiative for a four year moratorium on E-Voting with the exception of Swiss nationals abroad. He insists that E-Voting is insecure, so only a small percentage should be allowed to use it. I can’t help to think that this initiative would make it seem as if a small percentage of insecure votes don’t matter much in Swiss public votes.

Afterwards, Marcel Dobler (Liberal Party) handed in an initiative that calls for a big national Capture the Flag competition with serious money in the pot to find out if the existing solutions from Geneva and Swiss Post live up to their promises. It is a wildly populist proposal in my eyes. But from a hacker perspective, the idea has a certain appeal. I mean we could take our Swiss Cyber Storm team for the European Cyber Challenge competition, win the E-Voting Capture the Flag and be done with all our funding problems for the conference for a couple of years…

But jokes aside, let’s look back at our conference. There is only one E-Voting speaker left and that is going to be the person introducing the topic. As I have made clear in my previous posts, E-Voting poses singular problems that you won’t find anywhere else. The need for voter anonymity is one, the need for absolute confidence in the votes cast and the results of a vote is another one. You need a sound way to verify the votes and the results after an election and this process needs to withstand a lot of scrutiny. And lately with the blockchain hype, everybody calls for blockchain solutions for E-Voting so it would be nice if said speaker would also cover that question.

Ah yes, and then it would be good if the speaker would have a high renown and not be tied to one of the existing offerings. As I have explained, there is a certain level of competition between the two offerings.

Prof. Dr. Bryan Ford, Professor at EPFL

So it took us a while to come up with such a speaker. But I am now very happy to be able to announce Prof. Bryan Ford from the EPFL, formerly Yale and MIT, as our speaker. Bryan Ford leads the Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DEDIS) lab in Lausanne where he works on securing private and anonymous communication technologies. Bryan Ford also presented to a group of cantons lately when they met at the Federal Chancellery in Berne and so I think he is the perfect E-Voting keynote speaker.

Bryan Ford, speaking at the George Marshall Institute

So what you get at Swiss Cyber Storm is an overview over E-Voting and general, how the two competitors stack up against each other and how they intend to solve the core problems with E-Voting.

The conference is now less than two weeks away. If you are interested in E-Voting or one of the many other topics we will be discussing, you should register for our conference.

More about Bryan Ford

Christian Folini, Program Chair, Swiss Cyberstorm Conference @ChrFolini