Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When descission makers are clueless

It's a well known fact that you don't have to know anything to make a descision. Not knowing anything really speeds up the process of descisions and in some cases the descisions are just as good. In some cases they come with a price of being worthless or even disasterous.

When you don't know about what you are to descide upon a common aproach is to seek advice by somebody that know something about the subject.

Clueless descissions are most destructive when done in higher management because the consequences are often bigger. This includes politicians that are elected to make descissions. In Denmark there have rescently been some bad examples of such descissions regarding IT.

  1. Descissions about open document standards. Politicians kept OOXML in the loop although there was a better alternative that was more open at that time.
  2. NemId was chosen as the new authentication for citizens of Denmark when communicating with the goverment. (about taxes and stuff). I have used it and its work nicely from the end users point of view. The problem with the solution is that is uses certificates with public/private keys...  The private keys are placed on a centralized server. They have broken basic security principles and I think that is a problem.
  3. Rejsekortet is a new way of paying for public transportation. To do this they implemented their own encryption algorithm. The system has not been put into production yet, but the encryption algoritm has already been broken.
  4. Digital elections. Computers can be used for almost anything else. Elections part of a democratic proccess is not part of what computers can be used for. Pure electronic elections don't support recounting of votes and tampering with all votes can't be guarenteed. Elections of less importance, with truely trustworthy third parties can be implemented. Everybody has a interest in a democratic election and there is no trustworthy part that can ensure that the votes are not tampered with. It has been decided by politicians that electronic elections will be tried out.

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