Blockchain Is Good on Its Own but Not Good for Voting

Rivest delivered his opinion at the RSA Security Conference, held in San Francisco earlier this week, technology-focused news outlet ITWire reported on Feb. 28.

Rivest – who is a cryptography expert and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – called voting an interesting problem that requires a more stricter approach compared to many existing security applications

Computer scientist Ronald Rivest has said that blockchain is not the right technology for voting, although it can find proper application in a number of other areas.

He said:

“Blockchain is the wrong security technology for voting. I like to think of it as bringing a combination lock to a kitchen fire or something like that. It’s good on its own for certain things but it’s not good for voting.”

“We need software independence”

According to Rivest, voting is an area that does not require hi-tech to work, and anonymity and secret ballots only complicate the process of audit. “Blockchain technology really doesn’t fit for a couple of reasons. One is that we have learned we need software independence”, Rivest said and further added:

“And if you do use some technology, use the paper ballots to check on it and you can do very well. We call this software independence, so you don’t need to trust the results because you trust some software. That’s a dangerous path to go down if you don’t need to go down that path and with voting we really don’t need to.”

Elaborating further on the matter, Rivest compared blockchain with garbage stored in forever. “Once they’ve had the chance to manipulate your vote, it goes on the blockchain and never gets changed again,” he concluded.

E-voting comes under criticism

Rivest’s speech came on the heels of the Iowa Democratic Caucus scandal, when a mobile software application that had been devised to help calculate the total number of votes in the voting reportedly malfunctioned, resulting in the Democratic Party having to delay its public reporting of the results.

Following the event, blockchain-based applications were heavily criticised by regulators, with many political commentators and media analysts speaking out against mobile- and blockchain-based voting technology.

In the meantime, companies on the forefront of blockchain technology realize the potential of the products they are developing to not only transform the global economy, but also the way voters cast their ballots. Most recently, cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab unveiled a new type of a blockchain-based voting machine using Polys, the system released back in November 2017 designed to be an effective and secure way to vote online.

Earlier in February, India’s Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said that the country will soon be able to cast votes from outside their city of registration thanks to a blockchain-based system. With this move, the government hopes to increase voter turnout.

Missouri Firm Launches New Software For Reporting Crypto Taxes

Missouri-based software maker CryptoTrader.Tax has launched a new product facilitating cryptocurrency tax reporting.

As the 2019 tax year comes to an end, the software is designed to help firms, certified public accountants and professionals counsel their clients about reporting their taxes from crypto in accordance with the tax guidelines set out by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). CryptoTrader.Tax announced the news in a press release on Nov. 25.

The new tool allows to auto-generate client’s tax reports

The newly released crypto tax professional suite by CryptoTrader.Tax provides step-by-step process description for importing crypto transactions by clients, as specified on the website. The tool allows tax professionals to auto-generate client tax reports using transaction data imported into CryptoTrader.Tax, manage multiple clients and operate automated importing.

Since the IRS released its guidelines for crypto-based tax reporting in October, roughly 150 million American taxpayers will have to answer the question on Form 1040 whether they received, sold, sent or exchanged any virtual currency.

In the report, CryptoTrader.Tax stated that the IRS expects that roughly 12 million tax returns should contain some form of crypto investment.

CryptoTrader.Tax CEO: there’s an increased demand for automating crypto tax reporting

David Kemmerer, CEO and co-founder CryptoTrader.Tax, stated that the new question on 1040 means that all tax professionals not only have to ask their clients whether they had any crypto-related activities this year but also must be ready to handle crypto taxation for clients. Kemmerer noted that their crypto tax professional suite follows increased demand from tax professionals:

“We’re seeing that thousands of tax professionals are now looking for software tools to help them automate crypto tax reporting for their clients. We are excited to launch our crypto tax professional suite to provide a much needed solution for these professionals.”

According to the report, CryptoTrader.Tax already has thousands of users on its platform to date and has processed over $10 billion of crypto transactions over the past two years. The new software is free-to-use for tax professionals, the report notes.

0.04% of tax filers reported capital gains from crypto in 2018

On Oct. 9, 2019, the IRS issued its guidelines for crypto-based tax reporting. According to the new rules, U.S. persons are subject to U.S. tax in case if they hold, sell or exchange digital currency as well as if they receive digital currency in the form of salary or as a result of a hard fork. If U.S. people acquire digital currency as a gift, there is reportedly no immediate tax. The IRS has reportedly not decided whether promotional airdrops should be treated as taxable to date.

According to a study by Credit Karma Tax, data released ahead of the close of the preceding tax year indicated that just 0.04% of tax filers were reporting capital gains from crypto investments to the IRS. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who own crypto reportedly almost doubled in 2019, from 7.95% in 2018 to 14.4%, according to a new survey published in October.

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