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Google Submits Patent Application For Online Voting (thestack.com) 44

An anonymous reader writes: Google has outlined a concept for real-time online voting in the Google home page in a patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled 'Social Voting-Based Campaigns in Search', the application proposes a voting user interface (VUI) that will enable a user to submit one or more votes in a voting-based campaign, giving the hypothetical example of a campaign to vote for the 'Top American Singer', with users authenticated via Google log-ins. If implemented, the system would represent a new foray for Google into generating rather than recording analytics and metrics of popularity.
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Google Submits Patent Application For Online Voting

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  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @01:51PM (#51535791)

    This would be great for voting down stupid patents.

    • is that google pretty much has to patent anything obvious that hasn't been patented yet (e.g. one-click buying) or some troll patents it ("voting--using a computer"). When google patents the digitally enabled iGloo it will come with a patent on method for wiping your ass without dropping your android in the portapotty.


    • This would be great for voting down stupid patents.

      Why? People around here don't even use Google to find out what patents actually are!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    thank goodness for that. no chance of fraud there, mates.

  • I don't like where this is going.

    • Chicago, of course!

    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      Dead people will have Google+ accounts.

    • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @03:47PM (#51536595) Homepage Journal

      This is for opinion polls, not actual elections. And some stuff allows more than one vote. America's Got Talent, for instance, allows up to 10 votes per method (online - using your Google signon, I believe - text and 800 call) in the audience vote rounds.

      Since getting extra votes on Google accounts is as simple as installing multiple browsers, or just going in to private browsing mode, it's so obviously unsuitable for anything that matters that even the government can figure it out.

  • We have seen how voting can be changed with "trusted" computers and e-voting. Once a bit gets flipped, nobody will know about it. Online voting means that we can now add untrusted computers to the mix, and the next round of malware will go for this.

    How about something actually secure? David Chaum has a verifiable means of voting. What is so wrong with paper ballots? No, they are not 100% secure, but it is a lot harder to get physical access to ballots to change entries than it is to add a few lines of

  • And if it's a vote Google feels should go a certain way, they can be sure to emphasize the poll to those who their analytics say will vote the right way.

  • Do Not Want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @02:26PM (#51536017) Homepage

    There are vaguely smart people here in Slashdot. At this point, I'm comfortable saying that there's NO mass-electronic voting system I'd want to adopt. The attack surface is too high, the rewards for a successful intrusion or intentional modification by the controlling interests are too high, and the benefits are too low.

    Electronic voting is fine in small cases, where the number of votes is so low that it's not worth a massive effort to break.

    If it's connected, it can be hacked. If it's electronic, it can be modified. Even WORM/DVD-burning systems can be altered via firmware that's not writing what you think it's writing (and falsely spits back info on a "read" to fool at-moment auditing).

    You know what humans are good at securing? Little pieces of paper, often with Presidents on them. Usually it involves guns. Doing it at scale requires scaling up your investment. Altering the contents of one polling station's box doesn't mean you've also altered the contents of the other 85,000 that also have ballots. Intrusion is limited by physical restraints. And usually is easy to spot after-the-fact.

    It definitely doesn't involve glibc bugs, Romanian hackers (or the State of Romania), and trusting the political process to the cloud.

    No thanks.

    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      Even if you eliminated all the thousands of software and hardware bugs (yeah, right), online voting will strip vote anonymity. No anon coward votes means a useless election with useless, coerced votes.

      Also, a small group of admins running the voting servers can change everyone's votes. So, no thanks. To do that with paper ballots would require a much bigger group of conspirators so it's more difficult.

      • Still, one could imagine something actually representing a real popular vote if everyone could just click to vote.

        But, yeah, it's too bad, but I think the sentiment in this thread is probably correct. It would be abused and corrupted instantly.

        Which fits in just fine with politicians view... they certainly wouldn't want a real representative vote on their hands.

        • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

          Still, one could imagine something actually representing a real popular vote if everyone could just click to vote.

          In today's app-centric culture, trust me... Having people have to make more effort than Swipe Left or Swipe Right to vote for government elections is a feature, not a bug.

          In the late '80s there was a great series called Max Headroom [wikipedia.org], occurring "20 Minutes into the Future". In it, elections were held by counting ratings and clicking buttons on the remote control.

          It was supposed to be a dystopia :(

    • by r0kk3rz ( 825106 )

      If it's connected, it can be hacked. If it's electronic, it can be modified.

      Bitcoin has this problem solved though, there's plenty of incentive to try and break the bitcoin ledger and yet as far as anyone knows, nobody has managed it, and it has had a lifespan far greater than the average election.

      That's not to say that there isn't other problems with mass electronic voting, and it would likely require very different protections than the current tried and true paper based system, but to argue that we cannot adequately secure a voting system for a relatively short period of time I t

  • Come for the voting, stay for the data collection!

  • I've been here a while now, and yet I'm still amazed at how many people don't even get past the headline before they have to post (or moderate) a rant almost entirely unrelated to the actual news.

    Am I newer here than I thought, is everyone just yelling from their lawns, or has the level of buried rage around here really increased so much?

  • Wouldn't this just be an example of a multi-question survey? Such systems have existed for decades. Even Compuserve had a version of it. How would voting for the Top American Singer be any different than voting for a product to list on Massdrop?

"Spock, did you see the looks on their faces?" "Yes, Captain, a sort of vacant contentment."