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Comelec seeks ideas for source code review

Posted on: July 14, 2009

Comelec seeks ideas for source code review

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 08:40:00 07/14/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Computing & Information Technology

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has started to solicit suggestions on how to form the guidelines for the conduct of the source code review for the 2010 elections automation project, a poll official said.

“Preparations are underway for the review of the source code that will be installed in the poll machines. The Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) has started meeting today (Monday) to draft guidelines for the conduct of the code review,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told INQUIRER.net.

“The code review is a transparency measure to make sure public is appraised of the operating instructions to be installed in the poll machines. We believe there is no monopoly on knowledge or insight so we want to solicit input from the public especially our local IT experts,” said Jimenez.

Specifically, the guidelines will tackle mechanics of code review, answer questions on how to resolve adverse observations and provide means on how to input beneficial suggestions, said Jimenez.

The source code or human readable programmed instructions will be installed in poll machines to carry out specific commands such as recognition of security keys needed to operate the machines, counting votes from scanned paper ballots, consolidation of data and electronic transmission of results from a polling precinct to Comelec-designated servers.

After the customization of poll automation software, the poll automation law mandates the provider to promptly have its code open for review by all political parties, excluding bidder to polish the program before final installation on the poll machines.

“For its part, TEC has yet to decide on the guidelines, the number of copies to be disseminated and to whom, and implementation of changes on the source code. The body will request additional information on best practices with regards to source code review from international agencies involved with code review,” added Jimenez.

Asked if the code to be reviewed can be posted on the Internet or sent via e-mail to individual reviewers, Jimenez said there are “no defined guidelines on this yet.”

Jimenez said TEC will “likely” release preliminary guidelines on the conduct of source code review by the end of the month. No date has been scheduled for the code review, which could take between two to three months.

“We aim to have the code review finished before end of this year and have the final code before delivery of poll machines finishes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp., the joint venture formed by the wining bidder consortium, has started the customization of its automated election system software and acquisition of parts needed to fabricate the machines and other related hardware, said Cesar Flores, Smartmatic international sales director.

Jimenez clarified that although the source code review was not reflected in the implementation calendar for the automation project, it follows a “parallel track” and is “independent from other preparations” such as the fabrication of poll machines and related hardware, contingency planning and voter’s education.

TEC, a body created by Republic Act 9369 or the poll automation law, shall certify through an established international certification entity chosen by Comelec that the poll automation system is operating properly and securely according to provisions of the law, not later than three months before Election Day.

All Filipinos, especially local IT experts, are encouraged to email their suggestions to Comelec at bagondbotante@gmail.com.

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2 Responses to "Comelec seeks ideas for source code review"

The law is clear: “Once an AES technology is selected for implementation, the Commission shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested political party or groups which may conduct their own review thereof.” Sec. 12, RA 9639. The law already gives two requirements, and not just guidelines: “promptly” and “available and open to any interested political party or groups.”

COMELEC CHAIRMAN MELO assured us that COMELEC will make the source code of the Automated Election System available for review once it is customized and gets certified sometime in February. Yes, we have no problem with promises. Lovers often do that. Groovy? We’ll see.

“A Stalled Right to Review the Election Source Code”
http://www.mndlaw.net/?p=477

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