Online Vs Offline
It is a myth that online voting systems are not secure. Paper ballot or EVM ballot system is more prevalent because these methods are in use for decades and hence people are used to it. These methods were adopted when online voting was not an option and not because offline voting is safer than online voting. Many organizations are sticking to offline voting not because offline voting is secure or efficient, they are sticking to offline voting as there is inertia to change or a fear of change.
Another common myth is that anything linked with the internet can be hacked. In several industries online systems have proved to be much more safe and secure than offline systems. Many critical industries like banking, aviation, finance, stock markets, have already transitioned from offline to online. Thanks to Covid, the pace of transition from offline to online has substantially increased. People who were earlier fearful of shopping online are today buying basics like groceries and medicines online.
Voting in elections also has to eventually transition from offline to online and it's just a matter of time. Elections are taking longer to transition than other services because of following reasons:
- Many types of elections, including national elections, are regulated by government or government bodies. Most of these bodies are very slow when it comes to change.
- Decisions related to elections can't be taken by a few individuals but need to be taken by majority of the group members and leads to amendment in the constitution of the organization. Any constitutional change is a long bureaucratic process.
- There are vested interests who want to deny the right to vote to members who are unable to participate in offline voting due to lack of proximity to the booth. They keep opposing change to online voting by creating myths relating to security risks associated with the internet.
To have a fair discussion on online voting vs offline voting, one needs to understand the security and efficiency issues with the current offline voting systems. Also, one needs to see how security and efficiency has increased due to the introduction of internet in other sectors of the economy.
Post Vs Email
Remember the days when we used to exchange letters. How many times do those letters used to get lost? Sometimes in transit, sometimes from your post box, sometimes due to incorrect address, sometimes due to weather. However, the biggest challenge was the slow speed of delivery.
Today, physical letters via post are almost extinct. Nobody has the patience to wait for days to exchange one simple message. Emails and WhatsApp messages have replaced all physical letters. Today, only organizations who are reluctant to change or spammers are sending letters by post.
Branch Banking Vs Mobile Banking
Do you still stand in a queue to withdraw money at a bank teller? Do you still write a cheque when you have to make payment? Internet banking has made traditional branch-based banking extinct. Very old people or organizations unwilling to change are the only ones still dealing in cheques and offline banking. Most of the world has embraced online banking. India has gone even further with UPI and other new age internet-based banking methods.
If internet transactions were not secure, do you think the world would have embraced online banking? When it comes to banking, hard earned money of everyone is involved. Do you think people will take risk of online banking if it was not safe?
Offline Exams Vs Online Exams
Most competitive and high value exams in the world including SAT, IIT-JEE, CAT have moved completely online or are in process of moving online. Covid has expedited the process of transition to online. These are very high value exams where career of students is at stake. These are exams where people are willing to pay in millions to get admission.
If internet was not safe, do you think such life defining exams would have moved online?
Offline Stock Trading Vs Online Stock Trading
For decades share trading was an offline process. It used to take months to get shares transferred in your name. The shares had to travel via post first from the owner to the company and then from company to the new owner via the brokers.
With online share trading all that has changed forever. Shares change hands in matter of seconds. Shares worth millions and billions are traded online. If internet was not safe, would such high value trades move online? Would shares worth billions be stored in dematerialized form if internet was not safe? Can somebody hack the stock market and become owner of Reliance industries overnight?