How to E-file Your Tax Return Without Crashing the Computer
The idea is that parties who want to use the system would agree to act as intermediaries for the data transfers. When the individual files, he receives a secure time stamp, ensuring that he gets credit for being on time. But most of the file is still sitting in the bistro. The central server pulls the information off the bistro when it best serves its own needs.
"These hosts are not necessarily trusted; our protocols include mechanisms to ensure the privacy and integrity of the data," she says.
The trick is to make sure the data isn't changed while it sits there waiting. To that end, Golubchik has devised a "message digest" that shoots to the central server when the file is first sent. The digest is cryptograhically derived from the actual data; if the file is changed, it will no longer match the digest.
"It would require a huge supercomputer to work for many, many days to try to come up with a ballot different that the real one that puts out the same message digest," she says. "In fact, it would be nearly impossible." The IRS is the most likely partner for the project, but the concept would work just as well for e-voting, Golumbchik says.
"I have been talking to the IRS; they are quite interested in electronic submission," she says Golubchik. "Right now, what we've been testing is submitting projects for classes."
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