Helping make European elections fair – get to know European Parliament Crypto Tool
Jérôme Stefanini, on behalf of the European Parliament Crypto Tool Team, DG DIGIT, European Commission
The European Parliament Crypto Tool is an open source software that enables EU countries to exchange files securely. It was used for the European elections in 2014 and is already being used for the European elections that will take place in May 2019. Developed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT), the tool is supported by the ISA² Programme.
Following Directive 109/93/EC, EU Member States have to exchange information on citizens who plan to vote or be candidates in their country of residence rather than in their home country. This is to prevent double voting, which EU law prohibits. DIGIT facilitates this exchange of sensitive personal information by providing EU countries:
- an open source crypto tool to encrypt the data exchanged;
- a secure platform to perform the exchange; and
- a process to achieve this efficiently.
After the 2014 European elections, DIGIT was running test campaigns with the Member States every year to make sure that everything will be ready for this year’s elections.
Based on the results, DIGIT implemented several main improvements. For example, the software has been upgraded according to the latest security requirements and best practices. We have also added the possibility for EU countries to validate the quality of the data sent to other Member States. Last but not least, DIGIT has set up and operated a central platform allowing the exchange of files. For this, we are reusing the European Commission’s collaborative platform CIRCABC.
The business owner of the Crypto Tool is Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (JUST), DIGIT is the system supplier. The project is developed by a small team of committed DIGIT developers.
Although the actual elections will take place just at the end of May, EU countries are already actively using the Crypto Tool from 1 March 2019. They have started to exchange information about voters and candidates.
To conclude: this project has a relatively small budget. However, in combination with the reuse of the CIRCABC platform, it offers a complete and simple solution for Member States that addresses their needs, with the European Commission and DIGIT in particular playing an active role valued by all EU countries.