Comelec deposits source code at BSP
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday kept in escrow with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas one of the source codes or programs that will be used in the automated election system (AES) in May.
In a ceremony at the BSP complex in Manila, Comelec chair Andres Bautista placed inside a highly secured vault a metal safety deposit box containing a sealed envelope with a thumb drive inside.
Stored in the thumb drive are the source code of the Election Management System (EMS) component of the AES, binary codes and hash codes of the EMS. Also placed inside the safety deposit box were the certification of the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC), Comelec and international certifier SLI Global Solutions.
The source code is composed of human readable instructions. It is converted into executable code, the system used by poll machines to count votes properly.
“We need to deposit the source code at the BSP because it is required by the Republic Act No. 9369, or the Automated Election Law,” said Bautista in a press briefing.
The escrow came just hours after the Comelec, SLI, and AES service provider Smartmatic International completed the “trusted build” process of the EMS on Tuesday.
“It is provided by law that we need to have it escrowed as soon as the trusted build is completed,” said Bautista.
Two more source codes—for the vote-counting machines (VCM) and the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS)—will be deposited in escrow by the Comelec at the BSP on Feb. 9.
“The source code review and trusted build of the CCS and VCMs are not yet finished so we decided to go ahead with the EMS (escrow),” said Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, who is the Comelec-Steering Committee for the 2016 polls chair.
Lim explained that the source code for the EMS is the one that will be loaded into their main server, while the CCS source code will be in the laptops used in canvassing centers. The VCMs have a separate source code to be loaded.
BSP deputy governor Vicente Aquino noted that the “BSP is the most secured place in the Philippines.”
“BSP actually stands for BSP Secured and Protected,” he said in jest. “We will ensure that the source code will be safe throughout its custody in escrow here in BSP. We will not touch it, we will not look into it, we will not look at it, we will just ensure that it’s there, untouched by anyone.”
Aquino added that even BSP officials have no access to the vault. “We have to pass through so many security, I’d say, impediments.”
The safety deposit box containing the source code was placed inside the BSP vault with several layers of security locks.
Some members of the media, including the Inquirer, were drawn in a lot for the opportunity to witness the process of depositing the source code. However, cameras and other recording devices were not allowed in the area where the vaults are located because of security concerns.
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