Disinformation versus Election Machines

Disinformation versus election machines

By Alvin Capino | Posted on Dec. 10, 2012 at 12:01am

One would have to admired the bulldoggedness of the bashers of the automated election system and the precinct count optical scan machines used in the highly successful and internationally praised first-ever computerized national elections held in 2010.
Their obstinacy in claiming that there was a grand conspiracy to rig the 2010 national elections through the AES and the PCOS machines must already be jarring the nerves of some people in Malacañang who realize that the bashing in effect is also questioning the legitimacy of the 2010 win of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
It’s no wonder therefore that one of the leaders of the AES/PCOS bashers, former acting Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman, was not reappointed by Malacañang after he was bypassed by the Commission on Appointments.
The dilemma of Malacañang about Lagman is understandable. How can the Aquino administration support Lagman when he has not stopped raising issues against AES/PCOS, which in turn reanimates the lingering doubts on the victory of President Aquino in the 2010 automated elections?
The problem of the AES/PCOS bashers is that people have realized that they are not only misinforming the public on AES/PCOS; they are also engaged in disinformation.
Wikipedia is helpful in making the distinction between misinformation and disinformation. The free online encyclopedia says “misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally.” On the other hand “disinformation, in contrast, is intended to mislead.”
If you look at all the efforts the critics of the AES/PCOS it would look like they are not only committing misinformation they are actually engaged in disinformation.
Undeterred by the Supreme Court’s June 2012 decision declaring Comelec’s purchase of the PCOS machines from Smartmatic/TIM valid (this decision was affirmed by the high court last October), the AES/PCOS bashers continue to make media rounds and hold press conferences to warn people about the looming disaster in the 2013 elections.
Their warning, however, sounds like the end-of-the-world Mayan prediction which is more imagined than real.
The present mantra of the AES/PCOS bashers is “source code”.
The “source code”, in IT parlance, is the set of instructions that allows a program to run on a computer or a computing machine.
Citing the business dispute in the United States between Smartmatic and its licensing company, Dominion Voting Systems International, AES/PCOS bashers are now claiming that no source code for the 2010 election was ever deposited by Smartmatic with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as required by law.
In response to the source code issue, Comelec spokesman Director James Jimenez wrote in his Nov. 28 column in a business daily that the licensing agreement between Smartmatic and Dominion included a provision that obligates Dominion to place all its source codes in escrow.
Jimenez said that there is a safety clause in the contract that allows Smartmatic to take the codes out of escrow and use them to fix any problems arising from Dominion’s violation of their licensing agreement, if any. This provision is the center of the legal feud between Smartmatic and Dominion.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes has repeatedly assured the public that the business dispute between Smartmatic and Dominion does not affect in any way the technological aspect of the Comelec contract with Smartmatic.  He has also made clear that the dispute would have no effect on the use of the PCOS for the 2013 elections.
Brillantes, one of the country’s leading election lawyers before his appointment to chair the Comelec and who is also a certified public accountant, said that what contributes to the confusion on the Smartmatic and Dominion legal tussle is when non-lawyers interpret complicated legal issues and when the comments are based not on source documents but on third party accounts.
Jimenez also explained that the Dominion-Smartmatic legal feud does not in any way imply that Smartmatic never got the source code for the 2010 elections. In fact he said that the source code was submitted by Smartmatic and Comelec for a third-party review. After the review was completed, the source code was used to create a final version of the software that was used in the 2010 elections.
It is strange that former acting Comelec Commissioner Lagman now raises the issue of whether there is a source code when he has lashed out against  Comelec before against the poll body’s bias against local IT experts when it awarded a P70-million contract to SysTest Labs to perform he mandatory review instead of making the source code available for review by Filipino IT professionals.
Jimenez said that Comelec even invited the very same groups now claiming the non-existence of the source code to examine it in the presence of representatives from Smartmatic and Dominion. “Unfortunately, the review process was boycotted by the very same people who now claim that the code never actually existed.”
Published in Manila Standard Today

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