IT expert questions Comelec continued use of source code from Smartmatic

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MANILA, Philippines – IT expert Pablo Manalastas on Monday warned of complications arising from the Commission on Elections’ continued use of source code from Smartmatic International Corporation.

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM, the IT consultant for the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) questioned why Comelec did not require bidders for the poll machines to present source codes to ensure that these would be available for examination by concerned political groups or individuals.

Doing so would have prevented the issues being raised about Comelec’s inability to uphold transparency, he said.

“Political parties and other interested groups should also be allowed to conduct independent reviews on the source code, otherwise, Comelec will be undermining the principle of transparency,” he added.

Poll watchdogs and political parties have earlier assailed the Comelec for not allowing local IT experts to review the source code used for the precinct count optical scanners (PCOS) machines.

“They should have required bidders to submit source codes to ensure they can comply with the law (RA 9369 or the poll automation law),” said Manalastas.

“Dominion (Voting Systems) owns the technology that Comelec will be using for the 2013 elections and not Smartmatic,” he said, adding that the license for the source code created by Dominion has already been terminated.

“Smartmatic does not own the source code, they only licensed it from Dominion,” said Manalastas, pointing out that it was Dominion’s programmers who knew the software inside out.

The fact that the contract for the source code and the poll machines was only between the Philippine government and Smartmatic was a grave mistake as the Comelec had no control over the technology being used, he said.

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  • malek_abdul

    Why did the government particularly Comelec purchased the PCOS machines and its software from a middleman (Smartmatec)? Why did Comelec not just purchase it from the original distributor (Dominion Voting Systems). Issues like the source code could have been easily solved or clarified by Dominion.

    • ApoNiLolo

      Ikaw naman, para ka namang bagohan pagdating sa mga “project bidding” at “dealing” ng gobyerno (wink-wink). ; )

      • malek_abdul

        I know…actually yun ang pinupunto ko…hehehe.

  • nice_boy

    Any IT expert will tell you that all software developers protects the secrecy of their technology like their very existence depend on it.  They will show you the source code only if you guarantee its confidentiality, which our IT experts wants it to be open to all for them to study.  Knowing Filipino mentality towards intellectual property rights, opening their source codes will mean automatic piracy.   Any software, whether open or not will not be acceptable for as long as Filipinos never lose in an election.  They get cheated.

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    how can they confirm all machines has the same source code?

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    somebody could changed the source code

  • JasonBieber

    Under Aquino no one questions the government. If Aquino is fine with the PCOS machines then there is nothing that anyone can do about even if the machines are having issues. Experts have been warning for quite some time that the machines are spitting out the ballots but still no one did anything about. Now it’s too late. As long as Aquino’s bets win that’s all Aquino cares about.

  • Pert Cabatana

    These doubts raised about the PCOS reminds me of the skepticism when GSM was first introduced. At that time, the market got burned by the rampant incidence of cloning of Piltel’s analog cellphones. So, when we told the public that GSM could not be cloned, several cynics and skeptics refused to believe. They said: anything that’s man-made can be cheated. Today, more than 15 years later, GSM has proven itself. So, I say to the PCOS cynics and skeptics: time will prove you wrong. The problem is not in the PCOS per se, but in the ignorance and lack of discipline of those who use them. Secondly, did we have to know the source code of GSM to fully trust it?

  • JasonBieber

    This would have been a perfect time for the FOI Bill to kick in because we would all like to know what happened behind the bidding, purchase, and acquisitions of these machines. Why is the Comelec so intent to use machines that were having issues way back in 2010. And now there is also source codes problems…in plain English – the machines are not properly scanning the ballots. That point is a already a red flag.

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