Alex Macfie's Techdirt Profile

Alex Macfie

About Alex Macfie

Alex Macfie's Comments comment rss

  • Oct 04, 2016 @ 02:07pm

    Illegal in the EU

    Chips that detect and block the use of third-party printer cartridges are specifically banned throughout the EU, since about 2000.

  • Aug 13, 2015 @ 01:08pm

    Re: Re:

    exactly as secret as you want it to be.

    And by this comment you show that you fundamentaly misunderstand the point of the secret ballot. Voting needs to be secret IRRESPECTIVE of whether the voter wants it to be. Otherwise voters can be pressured into waiving their right to secrecy. The secrecy of the ballot is a public right, not a private choice, as voters choosing to waive secrety compromises the integrity of the ballot.

  • Aug 13, 2015 @ 01:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Really? How so? He is asking them to do something illegal in coercing their vote already.

    The act of proving how you voted by taking a photograph is MUCH easier to prove than voter coercion. You are assuming that mere questions of illegality are enough. They are not. The whole point of the secret ballot is that it SHOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE to prove how you voted. Freedom of expression is nothing to do with it either. By your argument there should be no bans on vote buying as it is an unfair trade restraint. Bollocks. The secret ballot is a matter of public policy not private choice. That is how democracy is supposed to work. If you make it legal to prove how you voted to someone else, you make it possible to force people to do this. Simple as thaqt.

  • Jun 01, 2014 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: True tally

    No, I have no fear that an open "signed" voting system of the kind you advocate will ever happen (although I do fear electronic voting, with its inherent 'black box' counting, in contrast to the open transparent counting of pencil&paper voting with manual counting).
    But I do think your conspiracy theories about secret voting absurd; however, as you seem totally committed to them, there is little point in continuing this discussion, which in any case it is doubtful if anyone else is reading, as this thread came off the techdirt front page some days ago.

  • Jun 01, 2014 @ 04:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    You have admitted that you do hold to an idealised view of modern society in which no-one would ever seek to use anyone's vote against them so we don't need to worry about the consequences of open voting. Don't worry I'm not going to accuse of threatening to harm children or animals, however I am prepared to say you are a slightly ridiculous conspiracy theorist as far as your ideas about the motivations for introducing and maintaining the secret ballot are concerned.
    EVERYONE is making their living in the "system", however "non-traditional" you think your means are, they still involve interacting with people, maintaining a reputation, and all that stuff. Whether you are a 9-5 cubicle drone, running your own business or freelancing, your ability to get business depends to some extent on what others think of you, so you have to fear if your voting records are posted for all to see.

    "Such things as - the Web - make it easy to report wrong doing by employers, and forensics tends to make your old-style club-wielding brown-shirt tactics a tad over-obvious today."

    AGAIN you miss the point that reporting wrong doing after the fact is no substitute from ensuring that it cannot happen. You also ignore my point, stated elsewhere, that improper influence does not need to involve "club-wielding brown-shirt tactics", and such informal pressure on people either is not covered by any law, or otherwise the law against it is likely unenforceable.
    Also f*** your na?ve techno-idealism. The Web is just as likely to be used as part of a campaign of improper influence of voting (as in the Brendan Eich case) as to "report" it.

  • May 29, 2014 @ 05:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is not "twisting the law". It is interpreting the law as intended, to ensure that voting remains secret.

  • May 29, 2014 @ 05:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    But it's not just a "right to privacy". The voter is forbidden from allowing anyone else to help them fill in the ballot paper while in the voting booth. These alleged infringements on right to free expression are minor when set against the benefits of a truly secret ballot.

  • May 29, 2014 @ 05:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Also the kind of informal pressure I mentioned that may be put on people to vote a particular way may not be illegal, or laws against it may be practically unenforceable. If someone is socially ostracised by their friends, family or neighbours because of how they voted, it is doubtful if any crime has been committed because of this (we can choose whomsoever we want as our friends). But it is not desirable for the integrity of the ballot if the reason this is possible is that it can be proven how they voted. When this happens, voting inevitably passes from the individual to the group, and this is fundamentally unacceptable. Under the secret ballot system, you can lie about your vote rather than risk being cast out of your social group. Under the open voting system you support, a voter could be forced to choose between voting according to their conscience and their social/personal allegiances. This cannot be acceptable in a free and democratic society.

    However, I can see that you probably can't, or rather won't, understand how it is wrong that voting should be passed from individuals to groups in this way. Not with your silly conspiracy theory about why the secret ballot was set up, nor with your idealised view of society in which no-one would ever do anything like use someone else's vote against them. So there is little point in continuing this discussion with you.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Re: End of story

    Its not hypothetical. It can happen and does happen. And it IS what the law was intended to stop.
    It is not up to the individual to decide whether to keep their vote secret or not, so get off your high horse about state interference.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 11:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: True tally

    I have already explained what I mean. Please don't be so obtuse and claim you don't know it. If people publicly sign their vote, it can be used against them.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 10:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Nope

    I have explained this already. The right to secure and safeguard your property is a private right; the secret ballot is a public right whose abrogation directly affects everyone, not just the affected voter.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Bribery of a specific person in charge of part of the voting process is (relatively) easy to detect, as is any monkey-business by election officials. Bribery of J Random Voter is not so easy to detect.
    Who said anything about having "absolute security"? I didn't. Of course there will always be ways the system can be exploited or corrupted, the point about the secret ballot is that there is a limited arena where these problems can happen, so they are relatively easy to investigate when irregularities do occur.

    Oh and by the by, it is no longer 1813.

    How touching. Clearly in the 21st century we now have Human Race 2.0, in which everyone is enlightened and no-one would ever seek to turn someone out of a job for voting for the wrong candidate, and anyway we don't need jobs as we can all live off the trees and the flowers. Come off it, who's the one with blind faith here? I don't have faith that the voting process will always work, I KNOW there are criminals who would seek to exploit it. I know voter fraud happens, it makes the news, and people get convicted and punished for it. Do you know why this happens? Because the system has checks in place such that it is possible to detect such fraud and identify the source of it. Yet you are saying that modern-day people are so enlightened that they would never seek to use someone's vote against them. Values of society change, but people don't fundamentally change. Before the secret ballot, the practice of using people's votes against them happened BECAUSE IT WAS POSSIBLE. If it becomes possible again, it will start to happen again.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 10:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Questions of legality don't come into it. It is what would happen, and it would often prove difficult to find who was behind such a campaign and punish them, as they will often be anonymous and/or will push their campaign through channels that are themselves illegal or underground, disappearing without trace once their work is done.
    And again, the mere threat of repercussions from voting in a particular way is likely to cause people to modify their vote, regardless of whether said reprecussions are legal or not. I wouldn't go using the argument "but you can get legal redress" around here; not when the issue of patent trolls often comes up, where the legal route of fighting trolls is so expensive that people settle even when they would ultimately win. Besides, the use of the law to punish activity that could easily be prevented from happening (in the sense of being made impossible) in the first place is like abortion as a form of contraception.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 03:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    I didn't say anything about knowing in advance. My point is that rigging an election doesn't necessitate shifting millions of votes. Anyway your assumption that improper influence is only about large-scale organised operations with a specific intent is flawed as I describe in another post (it could be the cumulative effect of informal pressure on people to vote some way other than the way they really intend to). There is also the issue of the use against people of how they voted. You really are hopelessly na?ve if you think this isn't going to happen.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 03:53pm

    Re: True tally

    It would mean that no-one's vote was their own, as it could be used against them at any time. You are hopelessly na?ve if you think that this isn't going to happen in all sorts of ways if votes are made public.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 03:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    The effect on an election of any one act of informal pressure on a voter to modify their public vote may be insignificant, but cumulatively all these effects will make a difference to the result of the election. How different, and in what way, is not clear. The point is that the result of the election with such pressure will be different from that without.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 03:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    Another point about improper influence in public voting that has not been addressed yet is that it need not be an organised operation by a company / government / political group. It could be informal, like peer pressure, or being leant on by community leaders. You might change your opinion of your friend if you find they voted a different way from you. You might say you wouldn't, but are you honest with yourself about that? If people modify their voting behaviour because of any fears about what the people around them (friends, family, colleagues, neighbours) would think about them if their honest vote is published, then improper influence has occurred. And it would be practically impossible to enforce any prohibition on behaviour that would lead to such influence (without closely circumscribing everyone's private communications, as in a police state).

    And another thought. Last month the CEO of a major software company was hounded out of his job after about a week because of a donation he had made to a particular political cause some years earlier. I personally am disturbed by campaigns against businesses based on the personal views of their directors (when said views do not affect how the business is run). If we had public voting, then we would start to see campaigns against prominent people (and perhaps even less prominent people) because of how they voted in public elections. Maybe you think it would be desirable to have a campaigns against a new corporate executive because (according to public voting records) he voted UKIP at the last election. However, this is exactly the sort of thing the secret ballot is designed to prevent.

    Public voting means that a person's vote may be used against them at any time. It need not be intentional, but whenever it happens, it is wrong. Secret voting means it can never happen.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 03:29pm

    Re: Re: Verifiable vote is not allowed

    This has got nothing to do with manipulation of the secret ballot process.

  • May 28, 2014 @ 03:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, but how does this specifically apply to laws protecting the secret ballot?

  • May 28, 2014 @ 03:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am not sure. It is not possible to be 100% sure that any attack on our democratic rule-of-law system is not happening. But this applies to anything. You don't need to be 100% sure: just sure enough that the system works better than any other system might. The scope for fraud in a well-run secret ballot system is much less than in a non-secret system. And that is what matters. If 100% certainty that a system is working is the requirement, then all systems fail. What matters is that the system works better than any other.

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