A farewell to democracy: Kaspersky

A farewell to democracy: Kaspersky

Summary: Without internet-based passports and identity credentials for the next generation of citizens to use, for example, at polling booths, democracy will fall apart within two decades, according to internet security billionaire Eugene Kaspersky.

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Without internet-based passports and identity credentials for the next generation of citizens to use, for example, at polling booths, democracy will fall apart within two decades, according to internet security billionaire Eugene Kaspersky.

Eugene Kaspersky
(Credit: Michael Lee/ZDNet Australia)

Kaspersky shared his view of the bleak future of democracy, in a keynote address at this year's CeBIT conference in Sydney.

He said that governments need to be developing secure, online-based credentials, which can be used to verify the identity of a person when they engage with official government services, as soon as possible.

We need them, Kaspersky said, because of the children.

Kids are digital natives, and adults are digital immigrants, Kaspersky said, adding that the "little homo sapiens are, all the time, online".

As a result, kids growing up in today's society will never do anything offline, that they feel should be available online, Kaspersky said.

"If we don't have internet passports, [kids] will never go to the election offices. If they never go to election offices, in 20 years, we will not have enough volunteers to vote for the next presidents or prime ministers. If we don't have internet passports — that will be the end of democracy in 20 years."

"New generations will never vote. They will be disconnected," he said to a silent audience.

"That's why I think we need digital, cryptographic identification methods," Kaspersky added.

Kaspersky's theory may not hold true in Australia, where voting is currently compulsory, but he said that the risk is very real for countries where it's voluntary.

He admitted that he didn't know what the future would be for democracy, without secure internet identification methods.

"I don't have any idea ... of what will happen, but I'm afraid that it will become a very serious conflict between generations. We might even end up with a revolution."

Ukraine, a cybercrime heaven

Kaspersky, a fan of predicting the future of online security, said at this year's AusCERT conference that the golden age of cybercrime would be over by 2014.

The Russian internet magnate built on that statement at CeBIT this morning, saying that, until then, cyber-criminals would find a haven in the Ukraine, as the Ukrainian police rarely cooperate with international law enforcement agencies that are looking for criminals.

"There's still some countries which are havens for cyber-criminals, and in Europe, it's [the] Ukraine. The Ukranian police don't cooperate ... So, that's a hint if you want to start a cybercrime business, you go to the Ukraine. It's a protected area at the moment," Kaspersky joked.

Topics: Government, Browser, Emerging Tech, Government AU, Security, Enterprise 2.0

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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2 comments
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  • Kaspersky is right.
    Even though voting is compulsory here, Australia needs to start work on this now.
    Once such a secure online credential based system is in place, imagine how much cheaper it would be to conduct an election. It would probably even be feasible to conduct oline referendums on major issues.

    For countries like the USA where voting is voluntary, the issue is far more critical.
    All the hoohaa the Americans have to go to just to motivate people to vote results in bizarre election campaigns funded by Wall Street and religious groups and distorted election results. No point in telling them should move to compulsory voting - they have "rights" blah blah.
    Compulsory voting is a small price to pay for true democracy.
    ITenquirer
  • Yes "without secure internet identification methods" I cannot see a future for online voting be it a referendum or selecting a Gov (at any level). Until there is a full proof method of instantly verifying the true identity of a person be it online or in face to face I have to say good luck with it all.
    Wolfungarman