Extra election monitoring – with the help of modern technology – could cost Russia a fortune, let alone crash Internet providers around the country, IT specialists say.
The idea to equip every polling station in Russia with constantly-streaming webcams was recently suggested by PM Vladimir Putin as a response to opposition allegations that November's parliamentary elections were rigged. The move, Putin believes, would make elections transparent for everyone.
But progressive as it may be, the initiative sparked criticism among the country’s IT specialists, who say it may eventually turn into a billion-ruble squander.
For Russia’s 94,000 polling stations, no less than 300,000 web cameras would be in place, in addition to powerful server stations and Internet links. Local manufacturers would be unable to produce such an amount of equipment – in either cameras or computers, said deputy head of the Communications Ministry, Ilya Massukh.
The project also requires Internet capacities Russia simply does not have.
“Even if we have all the polling stations equipped with Internet links, we will still need to increase speed in the whole segment,” senior vice president of communications provider Rostelecom, Baagn Martirosyan, told RIA-Novosti.
And such an increase could easily shut the Russian Internet down, Massukh believes.
“Russia’s main Internet channels, on average, are 70 Gigabytes per second, while the new project requires 100 Gigabytes per second,” he said.
Another question is how to protect the new system from hacker attack. The website webvybory2012.ru, registered for the forthcoming presidential elections, has already been shut down by an intense direct denial of service attack.
And the most curious issue is the money allocated for the project. Instead of launching a public tender, which could divide the task between several Russian companies, the government has reportedly decided to work “with a single source,” according to the director general of Intellectual Data Analysis, Ivan Begtin. It means that massive amounts of funds – to the tune of $500 million allocated for the cause – could disappear, unaccounted for.
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