You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Census attack sets back e-voting

AAP logoAAP 10/08/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

The cyber attack on the census website has cast into doubt a new push for online voting.

Amid criticism of the slowness of the federal election vote count, Bill Shorten approached Malcolm Turnbull to consider a bipartisan bid to look at electronic voting.

Mr Shorten said at the time a "grown-up democracy" in the 21st century should not have to wait over a week to find out who has won the election.

The prime minister said electronic voting was something that should be looked at.

However, the denial of service attacks on Tuesday, which led to the Australian Bureau of Statistics taking down the census site before millions of Australians had a chance to enter their information, has led to a debate about the merits of online government systems.

"If this happened during an online election it would have been a catastrophe," director of the Australian Computer Society Richard Buckland said.

However, he added that a cyber attack on electronic voting would likely be aimed at perverting data as it went in, rather than trying to access data as was the case with the census attack.

The prime minister's cyber security adviser Alastair MacGibbon said if people were confident about online banking, shopping or tax returns he saw no reason why online voting could not work.

"I tend to be a glass half-full guy," he said, adding the census event would be a "learning opportunity" for all government agencies.

Chief executive of Australian tech start-up PoweredLocal, Michael Jankie, said it was a setback.

"This will set back electronic voting for years and it makes the industry look bad as a whole," Mr Jankie said.

Phillip Zada of the University of New England's mobile e-voting research project said trust would be crucial to any future voting system.

"This is going to hit at the bottom line of trust of online voting - fears that anything online is susceptible to this kind of malicious act.

"And that makes it harder for politicians to argue for it."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon