A farewell to democracy: Kaspersky

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.

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.

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