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ISSUE 67 page 8

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Estonia e-voting grows but is it safe?

 THE BALTIC COUNTRY OF ESTONIA HAS BEEN A PIONEER of electronic voting. Starting with a local election in 2005 the practice was extended to national and, now to two, European votes (see issue 47).  Whilst the government has lauded ‘E-stonia’ as ‘a vote of confidence to one of the best IT-systems in the world’, according to President Ilves, there have been various objections to its use.  The mayor of capital city Tallinn, who received significantly fewer votes electronically than by ballot paper in 2009, brought a court case to annul the result of a 2011 general election when a student found a weakness which theoretically allowed a computer virus to to block e-votes for certain candidates. Now, just before the recent European election, a U.S.-based team of I.T. experts have issued a damning report on flaws in the system. After observing municipal elections last October the Open Rights Group team reported that the software was out-of-date and vulnerable to state-sponsored cyber
attacks. They also pointed to bad practice by election officials such as typing pin numbers and passwords in the view of cameras and using insecure network connections. However the Estonian Electoral Committee insisted that ‘We look for blind spots after every election. We look for loopholes, and carry out audits to see that the results match up’. Countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany have given up their e-voting systems and there were problems in Belgium this time where Euro-election computers failed to add up the votes correctly. Nonetheless Estonians seem happy to take the system on trust: 11% of the electorate used their pin numbers and card readers to vote, 4.7% of them abroad. ‘We have reached a situation where many people would not bother to vote, if e-voting was not an option’ said a universiy researcher.

An Estonian woman uses her e-vote



Web sites mentioned in this issue are available at:
 OSHwiki main page:
 Independent Report on E-voting in Estonia
 Video from the London Fashion Week protest is available at

Greek women to go digital to meet demand for ICT skills

AS THE DIGITAL SECTOR OF THE European economy grows the European Commission believes that the number of people with the relevant skills may fail to keep up, resulting in about one million unfilled vacancies by 2020. To prevent this a number of Member States have launched coalitions for digital jobs involving ICT businesses, universities, small business associations, public and private employment agencies.  Participating organisations pledge to recruit, train and raise awareness of digital skills.  Greece, the latest country to take the pledge, has aimed it at women and young people. As there is a lack of female post-holders at all levels in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry the ‘Women & Girls Go Digital in Greece  (WGGD - G) coalition will use best practice to promote ICT among women.  Mentoring and counselling will play a part as will encouragement of female entrepreneurship and a better gender balance in economic decision-making. At present only 19% of IT managers are women and only nine out of a hundred app developers are female.
European Commissioner for Employment László Andor said: ‘I welcome the launch of the Greek National Coalition for the Digital Economy … We must continue our efforts to ensure ICT employers can find young people with the skills they are looking for. If the ICT jobs gap is filled, everybody wins’.

OSHwiki launches to provide quality H & S information

 THE EUROPEAN AGENCY FOR SAFETY AND HEALTH AT WORK has launched a new web site based on the wiki concept so that accredited experts in workplace health and safety can create and share knowledge. Modelled on the popular Wikipedia, the site is currently under trial with a view to full publication at the World Congress in August. Only approved authors will be allowed to post articles to ensure that the information provided is reliable and professional. Eventually it is hoped that an occupational health and safety community will form  to edit each other’s work. OSHwiki allows posts in 24 European languages. The most popular pages, which include ‘Dangerous substances (chemical and biological)’ and ‘Worker participation – Cyprus’, have already notched up around 1,000 views.  OSHwiki

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